Former Ryanair pilot accepts email should have been disclosed in discovery

Martin Duffy giving evidence in ongoing defamation case, now in sixth week

Martin Duffy was a Ryanair pilot until his dismissal in 2001. Photograph: AFP

Martin Duffy was a Ryanair pilot until his dismissal in 2001. Photograph: AFP

 

A former Ryanair pilot and current strategic management consultant has told the High Court he accepted he should have disclosed an email as part of the discovery process in the airline’s defamation action against three pilots.

However, Martin Duffy said he believed he had included the email, which referred to the sale of shares by Ryanair management, in the documents he provided when he was asked to make discovery of his communications.

The court has heard those communications formed part of the discussions between a number of individuals before the creation of a “pilot update” which was sent out to pilots by the Ryanair Pilot Group (RPG).

That September 2013 update, entitled “what the markets are saying about Ryanair” was circulated to 2,289 pilots.

Ryanair is suing Evert Van Zwol, John Goss and Ted Murphy, all members of the RPG interim council, claiming, among other things, the update falsely inferred the company misled the market. The defendants deny the claims.

Mr Duffy, a consultant for the RPG in helping to organise Ryanair pilots, began giving evidence last Thursday and was asked by Martin Hayden SC, for Ryanair, why a particular email, which he received during various pre-update communications, had not been disclosed prior to trial.

Mr Duffy said he thought he had supplied it to the defendants’ solicitors as part of the discovery process.

When the trial resumed on Wednesday, Mr Duffy, a Ryanair pilot until his dismissal in 2001 and who years later became a consultant to the trade union groups backing the RPG, said he came across the email on Thursday evening after going over his records again that night.

The email was from an unnamed pilot who made a reference to share sales in June 2013 by Ryanair management, including chief executive Michael O’Leary, but this reference to Mr O’Leary turned out to be incorrect.

Mr Duffy, under continuing cross-examination by Mr Hayden, denied he knew at the time of the discovery process he should have supplied this particular email.

All documents

He thought he had passed on all documents because what he was asked for was a chain of emails between various people involved in drafting the pilot update. This particular email did not come into his mind because it was not part of that chain because the person who sent it was a person outside that group.

He said it was personal correspondence which had come to him and he had included a sentence from that email in what formed part of the chain of emails between the main group.

Mr Duffy said on the day of this particular email he had interacted with 18 people through more than 70 emails related to the RPG dealing with 13 or 14 topics. It was not his intention to not disclose any documents, he said.

While he agreed the discussion in the email was to show “some sort of insider dealing” (by Ryanair management) he said that was never included as he did not believe any of that would happen. He disagreed he had got “caught out” by this newly discovered email or it was an attempt to “outcast management”.

He also denied it was an attempt to show what the “bad managers are doing”. The only purpose was to inform pilots of what was going on in the market, he said.

The case, now in its sixth week, continues before a judge and jury.

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