Saturday 24 March 2018

I won't apologise to Rosanna for press release -- Ryanair PR boss

Dad Chris De Burgh pledged to sue in angry phone call

Rosanna Davison at the High Court yesterday
Rosanna Davison at the High Court yesterday

Tim Healy

RYANAIR'S head of communications will not apologise to former Miss World Rosanna Davison over a press release which she says branded her a racist, the High Court heard yesterday.

Asked by Ms Davison's counsel, Jim O'Callaghan, if he was prepared to apologise, having heard evidence in the case, Stephen McNamara said: "No".

Mr McNamara said the release was published -- on the airline's website -- on the basis of comments made by Ms Davison. He insisted that he did not make any comments about Ms Davison herself but about comments she had made in relation to the airline's calendar.

"That is an important difference. I don't know Ms Davison," he said.

Mr McNamara was under cross-examination on the third day of Ms Davison's defamation action against the airline over the news release issued by Ryanair on November 11, 2008, which she says wrongly implied that she was racist, xenophobic and jealous. Evidence in the case has ended and the jury is expected to go out today.


The court has heard that the release was posted in reaction to remarks by Ms Davison relating to the absence of Irish female cabin crew from a Ryanair charity calendar for 2009.

Ryanair denies defamation, denies that the release had the meaning alleged and pleads that it was fair comment.

The action is being taken by Ms Davison (27), a model and newspaper columnist, with an address at Cornelscourt, Dublin.

The release arose after an Irish Independent journalist asked Ms Davison what she thought of the absence of Irish cabin crew in the calendar.

She said she was correctly quoted the next day as saying: "If I was (organising) it, I would have made sure that Irish women were involved because it's an Irish charity and Irish fundraising. Any person from any part of Europe would say that Irish women are gorgeous."

The next day, Ryanair posted the release, which said the airline "hit back" at Ms Davison's comments, which "bordered on racism and demonstrated an elitist attitude against Ryanair's international cabin crew".

Mr O'Callaghan, counsel for Ms Davison, asked Mr McNamara yesterday if he accepted what another High Court judge, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, had said in June last year about "Ryanair and the truth being uncomfortable bedfellows".

Mr McNamara replied he did not have that press release in front of him. He thought that particular release had been issued by airline boss Michael O'Leary.

Daniel de Carvalho, Ryanair's European communications manager, told the court that after the release had been issued, he received a call from Ms Davison's father, the singer Chris de Burgh, in which Mr de Burgh said he would sue Ryanair and Mr McNamara unless they received an apology.

Mr de Burgh also said he had sued 16 times in other cases and won, Mr de Carvalho said.

Mr de Burgh said he respected Ryanair, although he had never had to avail of the airline himself because he could afford a private jet, Mr de Carvalho said.

Under cross-examination from Declan Doyle, counsel for Ms Davison, Mr de Carvalho denied that he was lying when he told the court that he received a phone call in 2008 from Ms Davison looking for a free airline ticket in relation to a charity event, a request which was refused.

Irish Independent

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