211/2019 - Ryanair and the Irish Daily Star
The Press Ombudsman has not upheld a complaint by Ryanair that the Irish Daily Star breached Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) and Principle 3 (Fair Procedures and Honesty) of the Code of Practice of the Press Council of Ireland.
On 15 August 2019 the Irish Daily Star carried a report that the union that represents some Irish-based Ryanair pilots had served strike notice. The headline on the article read “Flight chaos for Ryanair passengers”.
Eight days later Ryanair wrote to the editor of the Irish Daily Star stating that there was “no basis for this sensational and inaccurate headline”. The airline further stated that “this Irish pilot strike did not happen and a strike by less than 30% of UK pilots occurred ... without any disruption to flights”.
The editor of the Irish Daily Star stood over the report and headline. He drew Ryanair’s attention to press releases from the company which referred to “disruptions to customers’ holiday and travel plans” and asking the pilots’ union to “continue in mediation”.
Ryanair made a formal complaint to the Office of the Press Ombudsman claiming that Principle 1 and Principle 3 of the Code of Practice had been breached.
As the complaint could not be resolved by conciliation it was forwarded to the Press Ombudsman for a decision.
At the time the article was published the union representing unionised pilots in Ryanair in Ireland had served strike notice. The headline on the article anticipated the effect the strikes would have. Had the pilots’ strikes gone ahead it was not unreasonable to anticipate, as the headline did, that passengers would face chaos. The fact that the strike did not take place and that Ryanair managed the UK strike without, according to their own words, any disruption was not known to the Irish Daily Star on the date of publication of the article. For these reasons, I cannot find a breach of Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy). Ryanair also claimed that Principle 3 had been breached. Principle 3 requires the press to strive at all times for fair procedures and honesty in the procuring and publishing of news and information. No evidence has been put to me that this requirement had been breached by the newspaper. Therefore, I find that Principle 3 was not breached.
8 November 2019