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I was shocked and upset to be called 'racist', model tells court

ROSANNA Davison is no stranger to being at the centre of attention.

In evidence to the High Court yesterday, Ms Davison said she travelled to many countries and did a lot of charity work during, and since, her year as Miss Ireland and Miss World.

In 2006, she completed an honours degree in Sociology and History of Art in UCD and later did a diploma in PR and Event Management.

She works as a model and a columnist for the 'Evening Herald'.

The 27-year-old said she made her remarks concerning the Ryanair calendar after being phoned by journalist Stephen O'Farrell, whom she did not know.

She added that the journalist told her the Ryanair calendar had just been published, there were no Irish women in it and asked, as an Irish model, what did she think.

At the time of answering Ms Davison did not know much about Ryanair or about the selection process for the calendar.

The next day, she was contacted by a journalist about the Ryanair news release and was absolutely shocked and upset when she saw the words used in the release, particularly "racist".

Ms Davison said she did not believe the calendar should be limited to just one nationality.

Of all people to call racist and elite, she was not such a person as she worked with, and for, people of all nationalities, she said. Her family was also upset.

Her solicitor Paul Tweed wrote to Ryanair seeking an apology and a donation to charity. She felt Ryanair's response in its replies to her solicitor's "reasonable" letters were aggressive.

References by Ryanair in its letters describing her comments as "stupid" and "ill-considered" were "incredibly juvenile", "downright rude" and "schoolyard talk", she said.

The jury heard that Ryanair in one letter stated it had been contacted by Chris de Burgh, father of Ms Davison, about the news release and had said it would not be bullied by him.

In cross-examination, Martin Hayden, for Ryanair, said Ms Davison's solicitor had initially written to Ryanair asking for a sizeable donation to charity.

Ms Davison agreed she had considerable dealings with media. She also agreed a charity calendar was a great idea and said she had participated in a charity calendar, 'Angels for Moldova'.

She felt her comments concerning the calendar were "considered", she was expressing an opinion and did not want to insult anyone.

The case continues next week.

Irish Independent