Email sent by former Ryanair pilot was ‘reasonable’, court told

Airline claims mail falsely inferred it had misled market

Former Ryanair pilot John Goss has told the High Court that an email over which the airline is suing him and two other pilots was a "reasonable" document.

Under continuing cross examination, Captain Goss said he made his own enquiries about the information in the email before it was sent to Ryanair pilots, was satisfied it was correct and stood over it.

The airline is suing him and Evert Van Zwol and Ted Murphy, all members of the Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG) interim council, over the September 2013 email circulated to 2,289 pilots.

It was headed “Pilot Update: what the markets are saying about Ryanair”.

The airline claims it falsely inferred, among other things, the company misled the market. It also claims it was published maliciously and was part of an ongoing RPG effort to trade unionise its pilots.

The defendants deny defamation and also say the words complained of do not mean what Ryanair says they mean.

The action is now in its fifth week before a jury and Mr Justice Bernard Barton.

Under cross-examination by Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, Captn Goss denied a suggestion, because the RPG had been “getting nowhere” in relation to raising safety issues, the email was the “next stage” in mounting pressure on management to talk with the RPG.

It would make no sense to do such a thing, Captn Goss said.

He denied the email was about “outcasting management” in the eyes of pilots. There would be no point in doing that when it was about talking to them, he said.

Counsel put to Captn Goss, having run into a “dead end” with the aviation authority over safety claims, the RPG moved target to see if if could get some traction out of accusing management of acting improperly when informing the market.

Captn Goss replied that was “absolutely incorrect” and he could see no evidence to suggest that.

Hostility and ill-will

When counsel put to him that, leading up to the publication of the pilot update, he had a known hostility and ill-will towards the company given his history, he replied he felt disappointed and upset at the way he had been treated but hostility would be the wrong word.

Asked did his dismissal in 2013 make him angry, he said he had mixed feelings of shock at first, then disappointment and there was an element of anger as anyone would have when they are fired without due process.

Being “dumped without the opportunity to defend yourself” left him extremely worried about what would happen and this was quickly followed by the serving of these defamation proceedings, he said.

He denied the purpose of the pilot update was to drive a wedge between management and pilots. That would stop any discourse between the two sides when the sole purpose was to organise pilots so they could deal directly with the management, he said. “Putting a wedge between them would have been completely against the work we were doing”.

Cross examination of Captn Goss has finished and he will be briefly re-examined by his own counsel on Thursday when the case resumes.