Aer Lingus worker loses claim over 'rape slander'
Published 21/07/2011 | 05:00
AN Aer Lingus worker who claimed a colleague spread gossip about him "all but raping" a former girlfriend has lost his claim for slander.
The Circuit Civil Court was told yesterday that the sex lives of Aer Lingus employees were a regular source of tittle-tattle for the airline's employees at Dublin Airport.
But the tongue-wagging resulted in an alleged claim of defamation, isolation, bullying and harassment between workers that should never have reached court -- according to barrister Louise Gogarty.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane dismissed a claim by ground operative Wayne Hanratty (40) for slander against colleague Louise Kennedy on the grounds he had failed to prove his case.
Mr Hanratty, who works with the Aer Lingus Boarding Section, had sued Ms Kennedy, of Sandford Wood, Swords, Co Dublin, for €38,000 damages.
Mr Hanratty's counsel told the court he was also seeking an injunction restraining Ms Kennedy from further stating he had raped, attempted to rape or had sexually assaulted his former girlfriend Suzanne McPartlan who also worked for Aer Lingus. The court heard that Mr Hanratty, of Violet Hill Road, Glasnevin, previously had a two-year relationship with Ms McPartlan, of Blackthorn Close, Portmarnock, Co Dublin.
Following their break-up Ms McPartlan began a relationship with Ray White, of Chapelfarm Green, Lusk, Co Dublin.
Meanwhile, Mr Hanratty, had begun a relationship with Caroline O'Connell, of Charnwood Park, Clonsilla, Dublin.
In his claim for slander and defamation against Ms Kennedy, Mr Hanratty alleged that in October 2009 she said to one of his colleagues -- Aideen Murphy, of Rivermeade Close, St Margarets, Co Dublin -- "At least this guy (Mr White) won't be as bad as Wayne.
"He won't try to have sex with Suzanne in her sleep. That's rape."
He also claimed that in January 2010 Ms Kennedy told Louise Rispin, of Grange, Ardbraccan, Navan, Co Meath: "I wonder will Wayne break Caroline down like he did Suzanne.
"I remember she was bubbly and happy until Wayne got his hands on her . . . you would think butter wouldn't melt in Wayne's mouth but underneath the innocent person is a nasty person.
"One night, when Suzanne was asleep, Wayne had tried to force himself on her. Please don't say this to anyone." Mr Hanratty claimed the statements held him out to be a rapist, a bad character guilty of a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment. He said he still had to work and talk with Ms Kennedy in their work at the airport.
Ms Kennedy denied the claims against her.
She added that she never held any malice against Mr Hanratty and had found herself isolated from her work colleagues, harassed and bullied.
Judge Linnane, dismissing Mr Hanratty's case with costs against him, said it had been made clear from the outset that Ms Kennedy denied she had ever spoken the words it was alleged she had said to Ms Murphy or Ms Rispin.