Court or­ders Ryanair to re­lease doc­u­ments in defama­tion ac­tion

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS / NEWS -

The High Court has ordered Ryanair to let Chan­nel 4 and one of its pro­gramme mak­ers see doc­u­ments they say they need ac­cess to in or­der to de­fend the air­line’s defama­tion ac­tion against them.

The com­pany is su­ing them over Ryanair: Secrets from the Cock­pit, a 2013 doc­u­men­tary in Chan­nel 4’s Dis­patches se­ries that dealt with a num­ber of crit­i­cisms of the air­line. Ryanair says the pro­gramme wrongly claimed it 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’s mak­ers, Blake­way Pro­duc­tions, stand by the doc­u­men­tary.

In the pre­trial dis­cov­ery process both sides had asked for more ac­cess to doc­u­ments they said they needed to pre­pare their cases. Last month Mr Justice Charles Meenan said Chan­nel 4 and Blake­way were en­ti­tled to claim jour­nal­is­tic priv­i­lege and pro­tect some of their sources, but he made or­ders about dis­clo­sure of doc­u­ments over which le­gal ad­vice or lit­i­ga­tion priv­i­lege was claimed.

Yes­ter­day the judge dealt with out­stand­ing dis­cov­ery against Ryanair. Last De­cem­ber the court had told Ryanair to re­lease eight cat­e­gories of doc­u­ment. Af­ter the air­line ap­pealed three of those cat­e­gories, the Court of Ap­peal ruled it must re­lease them sub­ject to cer­tain amend­ments. Chan­nel 4 and Blake­way were dis­sat­is­fied with Ryanair’s re­sponse to that or­der and re­turned to the High Court.

In his rul­ing on this, Mr Justice Meenan said a fur­ther dis­cov­ery or­der was un­nec­es­sary. He also ruled out ap­point­ing an in­de­pen­dent ex­pert to review the dis­cov­ery. But he ordered Ryanair to let Chan­nel 4 see doc­u­ments about in-flight fuel in­ci­dents once in­di­vid­u­als’ names had been redacted.

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