Tuesday 21 November 2017

Court orders Ryanair to show documents to media lawyers

Airline is suing Channel 4 over programme aired in 2013
Airline is suing Channel 4 over programme aired in 2013

Tim Healy

THE High Court has ordered Ryanair to make available for inspection certain documents which Channel 4 and an independent production company say they need to defend a defamation action by the airline.

Ryanair is suing over the August 2013 Dispatches 'Secrets from the Cockpit' programme which dealt with a number of criticisms of Ryanair over its fuel policy, passenger safety, and pilot working conditions.

Ryanair says it was defamatory because it wrongly meant the airline endangered passenger safety by operating a low-fuel policy and by pressuring its pilots to take on as little fuel as possible.

Channel 4 and the programme makers, Blakeway Productions, say the words complained of were true, an expression of honest opinion, and fair and reasonable publication on matters of public interest.

As part of the pre-trial disclosure process, both sides sought further and better discovery of documents they say they need to prepare their cases.

Last month, Mr Justice Charles Meenan delivered part of his decision on discovery in which he said Channel 4 and Blakeway were entitled to claim journalistic privilege over certain sources though he made orders in relation to how disclosure in relation to documents over which legal advice/litigation privilege was claimed.

Yesterday, the judge dealt with outstanding discovery sought by Channel 4 and Blakeway against Ryanair.

Meanwhile, in a seperate case Ryanair is suing three pilots over an email it says falsely inferred the airline had misled investors, facilitated insider dealing in shares by management and was guilty of market manipulation.

The airline says captains Evert Van Zwol, John Goss and Ted Murphy, of the Ryanair Pilots Group (RPG), maliciously circulated the email to 2,289 pilots in 2013.

Ryanair also claims it was part of an ongoing RPG effort to trade-unionise its pilots and had come following similar false attacks on the airline's safety record.

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

The words also have the benefit of qualified privilege whereby a statement published to someone with an interest in receiving such information is protected as long as it is not motivated by malice, the defendants say.

The action opened yesterday before a High Court jury and Mr Justice Bernard Barton.

Irish Independent

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