Rosanna sues comments in Ryanair over web calendar racism row
FORMER Miss World Rosanna Davison is suing no-frills airline Ryanair for defamation after claiming a news release wrongly implied she was racist, xenophobic and jealous.
The news release was posted on a website on November 11, 2008.
It was a reaction to remarks by Ms Davison relating to the absence of any Irish female cabin crew from a Ryanair charity calendar for 2009.
The calendar featured international female cabin crew in bikinis and under titles including Miss Cockpit and Miss Fuel Pump.
Ryanair denies defamation and denies the release had the alleged meaning.
It also pleads the release, which remained on its website yesterday, was "fair comment".
The action by Ms Davison (27), a model and newspaper columnist, with an address at Cornelscourt, Dublin, opened yesterday before Mr Justice Eamon De Valera and a jury.
It is expected to last three days at the High Court.
Her counsel Jim O'Callaghan said there was no issue about the charity calendar, which some people would consider distasteful, others fun.
Ms Davison had been contacted by a journalist from the Irish Independent and asked what she thought about the absence of any Irish female cabin crew in the calendar.
"If I was (organising) it, I would have made sure that Irish women were involved because it's an Irish charity and Irish fundraising," she said.
"Any person from any part of Europe would say that Irish women are gorgeous."
There was "nothing earth-shattering" in those remarks, published in an Irish Independent article entitled 'Ryanair's Irish Girls not keen on take off for calendar', Mr O'Callaghan said.
However, Ryanair then launched "an attack" on Ms Davison via a news release published on its website, which contained "very serious charges".
It was Ms Davison's case that the release meant she was racist, xenophobic and jealous, she was deeply offended by it, regarded her reputation as very damaged and was seeking damages.
"Ryanair hit back at comments made by Irish glamour model Rosanna Davison in relation to the absence of Irish cabin crew from Ryanair's 2009 charity calendar that 'bordered on racism and demonstrated an elitist attitude against Ryanair's international cabin crew'," Mr O'Callaghan said, quoting the release.
"While we originally selected an Irish girl, it was because she deserved to be included, not simply as a token gesture.
"To replace that girl with another applicant on the basis of her being Irish would have been unfair to all the girls who applied to participate. . . This narrow-minded attitude is disgraceful," the release said.
The case resumes on Tuesday.