Independent (UK) Settles Ryanair Defamation Action
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE
QUEEN’S BENCH DIVISION
B E T W E E N:-
- and –
INDEPENDENT DIGITAL NEWS AND MEDIA LIMITED
STATEMENT IN OPEN COURT
SOLICITOR FOR THE CLAIMANT
1. In this action for defamation, I appear for the Claimant, Ryanair Limited. My learned friend appears for the Defendant, Independent Digital News and Media Limited.
2. The Claimant is an airline company with its headquarters based at Dublin airport, Ireland.
3. The Defendant is the publisher of the online edition of the Independent newspaper.
4. On 7 August 2013 the Defendant published an article entitled “Low-fuel flights put lives at risk”. The article incorrectly said that Ryanair had ‘restricted the amount of fuel [their aircraft carry] to the legal minimum’. In fact, Ryanair pilots are permitted to carry as much extra fuel, over and above the flight plan fuel (which already includes extra fuel), as they consider necessary.
5. The article also referred to a legal minimum fuel-reserve which aircraft must have on landing, and claimed that one of Ryanair’s flights in 2010 landed with less than that amount of fuel. In fact, the legal obligation relating to fuel payload specifies the amount required on take-off (a portion of which is the requisite reserve). Ryanair complied with this requirement on take-off in the 2010 incident but declared an emergency, as required, on their approach to landing because the remaining fuel was likely to be and in the event was, less than the pre-departure reserve when the flight touched down.
6. The Spanish CIAIAC (The Commission for Civil Aviation Accidents and Incidents) issued a report about this incident. When the Irish Ministry of Transport subsequently met with the Spanish Development Ministry in 2012 they issued a joint press release in which they stated “The Irish Authorities gave an assurance of the IAA’s rigorous oversight of Ryanair’s operation and of their satisfaction with Ryanair’s safety standards which are on a par with the safest in Europe”.
7. I am here today to say that the Defendant repeats its earlier published apology for the errors in its article. It also accepts the IAA 15 August 2013 statement that they” regularly review the fuel policy of Ryanair as part of our regular surveillance programme and we have no concerns currently that any undue upload restrictions implied or otherwise exist”.
COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENDANT
8. My Lord, on behalf of Independent Digital News and Media Limited I confirm everything my friend, Mr. Tweed, has said.
SOLICITOR FOR THE CLAIMANT
My Lord, it only remains for me to ask for leave that the record be withdrawn.
PRESS STATEMENT (RYANAIR and THE INDEPENDENT)
Ryanair appreciates the Independent’s detailed and comprehensive statement setting the record straight before the High Court this morning, in conjunction with the apology published by the newspaper on an earlier date.
The Independent’s acknowledgement of Ryanair’s 29 year safety record and their safety standards being on a par with the safest in Europe, follows other statements issued by the Belfast Telegraph, Irish Independent, Irish Daily Mail, Mail Online and The Mirror.
However, our client’s ongoing defamation action against Blakeway/Channel 4 in relation to the offending Dispatches programme, will continue to be vigorously pursued and brought before the High Court in Dublin at the earliest opportunity.
Belfast | London | Dublin
PRESS STATEMENT (David O’Brien, Ryanair Director of Flight & Ground Operations)
As Director of Flight and Ground Operations for Ryanair, I am very satisfied with the comprehensive vindication and acknowledgement of Ryanair’s 29 year safety record by the Independent before the Court this morning.
Ryanair cannot and will not tolerate totally unjustified and inappropriate allegations in relation to our industry leading safety. We welcome yet another media establishment recognising this and suitably apologising.
We will continue to take all necessary action to have our defamation action against Channel 4 Dispatches and Mr John Goss brought before the Court at the earliest opportunity.