Sunday 26 February 2017

Judge stands firm on Ryanair criticism as he quits fees case

Tim Healy

Mr Justice Peter Kelly will not backtrack on his remark. Photo: Courtpix
Mr Justice Peter Kelly will not backtrack on his remark. Photo: Courtpix

The Commercial Court's Mr Justice Peter Kelly has said he will not backtrack on his remark that Ryanair and the truth are "uncomfortable bedfellows".

However, he agreed yesterday to allow another judge to hear actions against Ryanair by Cork, Dublin and Shannon airport authorities over alleged delays in paying airport charges.

His criticism followed an application seeking to have him withdraw from hearing any more cases involving the airline on the grounds of its "reasonable apprehension" of his bias in recent proceedings.

Mr Justice Kelly had said Ryanair told untruths to and about the court and about Transport Minister Noel Dempsey, meaning the airline and the truth were "uncomfortable bedfellows".

He emphasised that his decision to have the airport charges cases dealt with by another judge was to ensure they would not be delayed or made more costly.

Nor was he ruling himself out from the possibility of hearing other cases involving Ryanair in the future.

If Ryanair or its agents misrepresented his decision, he would regard this as contempt of court, he warned.

Tendentious

The judge noted that an affidavit from Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary had stated that given his conduct of the recent application (by Ryanair) for judicial review of proposed new charges at Dublin Airport between 2010 and 2014, and given his expressed view that Ryanair was not disposed to the truth, the airline "has a reasonable apprehension of bias in these proceedings and all Ryanair proceedings".

In the course of his "tendentious and sometimes inaccurate" affidavit, the judge said the CEO had accurately recorded the judge's finding that factual misstatements in affidavits put before the court had misled the court in a material way.

Mr O'Leary had accurately stated what he had said about Ryanair and the truth being uncomfortable bedfellows, the judge said.

"I do no resile one iota from those findings or those comments," he said.

He added the untruths to the court were admitted by Ryanair and the untruths about the court were admitted by Mr O'Leary in the witness box. The judge said he had concluded that untruths were told about the minister.

"In the circumstances, it is difficult to see how any judge could have come to a conclusion other than I did."

Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan has been asked to hear the airport authorities' case.

Irish Independent

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