Defamation

Jury Awards Compensation for being Defamed by Ryanair


 

A former model has been awarded compensation for being defamed by Ryanair after her character was attacked in a press release released by the airline.

In November 2008, Rosanna Davison – a former model and winner of the Miss World contest in 2003 – criticised Ryanair´s charity calendar for failing to feature any models from Ireland. The airline responded by issuing a press release in which it was claimed Ms Davison was “bordering on racism” and which stated that there was nothing as unattractive as jealousy.

After seeking legal advice Rosanna made a claim for compensation for being defamed by Ryanair. The airline disputed that there was anything defamatory in the press release and contested the claim. The defamation case consequently went to the High Court, where the jury was told by Ryanair´s legal representatives that Rosanna was making a federal production out of a storm in a teacup.

In response, Rosanna´s senior counsel told the jury that she had no option but to claim compensation for being defamed by Ryanair after the company had refused to issue an apology. He claimed that it “defied any logical analysis” to say that the press release was not defamatory, and that Ryanair´s response to a request for an apology had been “brutish, aggressive and disproportionate”.

The barrister said that the jury should not only award Rosanna compensation for being defamed by Ryanair, but also aggravated damages for the way in which the airline had approached the case. Prior to retiring for deliberation, the jury was told by the judge to keep their feet on the ground if they found in favour of Rosanna. He said that any compensation for being defamed by Ryanair the jury decided to award should reflect the distress suffered by Rosanna and not be based on a punishment to Ryanair.

When the jury returned, it awarded Rosanna €40,000 compensation for being defamed by Ryanair and €40,000 for aggravated damages. Speaking after the hearing, a Ryanair spokesperson said that the company would not be contesting the verdict of the jury, as it would cost less money to settle the claim than it would to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court.