Ryanair sues Channel 4 and Associated Newspapers over safety claims

Irish budget airline, Ryanair, has launched a libel action against Channel 4’s Dispatches, as well as newspaper publishers Associated Newspapers and Mirror Group, over allegations regarding the airline’s approach to safety.

Early last week, the airline said that it would take legal action against Channel 4 over a Dispatches documentary, ‘Ryanair: Secrets from the Cockpit’. The airline also sacked a longstanding pilot who had appeared in the documentary. On Friday, Ryanair said that it would expand the libel action to include Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, and Mirror Group, publisher of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror and the People.

‘Ryanair does not comment on pending legal cases,’ a spokeswoman said.

Ryanair, which has never suffered a fatal accident, said that the documentary is ‘false and defamatory’. The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has already called the programme a ‘misguided attack’ on Ryanair, saying that it is ‘based upon false and misleading information’. ‘Ryanair Plc fully complies with all European and international regulations in all areas of its operations,’ it said.

Johnsons, the law firm representing Ryanair, issued a statement on Friday confirming that defamation proceedings have been started at the High Court in Dublin. Paul Tweed, senior partner at Johnsons, said, ‘We have been instructed to vigorously prosecute these libel proceedings with a view to securing total vindication of Ryanair’s industry-leading safety reputation, following the broadcast and publication of outrageous and totally unfounded allegations regarding my client’s attitude toward safety.’

A writ of summons has also been issued in Northern Ireland against the Belfast Telegraph and ‘other litigation is pending’, the law firm said. However, Ryanair withdrew its action against the Belfast Telegraph after it published an online apology for an article titled, ‘Are budget airlines like Ryanair putting passengers at risk?’