212/2019 - Ryanair and the Irish Daily Mirror
The Press Ombudsman has not upheld a complaint by Ryanair that the Irish Daily Mirror 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 16 August 2019 the Irish Daily Mirror carried a report about a breakdown in talks to avert a strike by Irish-based pilots in Ryanair. The headline on the article read “Passengers facing chaos as Ryanair strike looms”.
Ryanair wrote to the editor of the Irish Daily Mirror expressing their surprise at the “sensational, baseless, inaccurate headlines”, pointing out that the strike in fact never took place.
The Irish Daily Mirror responded to Ryanair claiming that the airline’s complaint was “… entirely without merit or substance. The headline of which you complain is a predictive statement of opinion and the basis for it is clearly set out within the article itself”.
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 written and the headline composed the Irish Daily Mirror could not have known that the strike would not take place. The headline anticipates the effect a strike would have. Had the pilots’ strike gone ahead it is not unreasonable to anticipate, as the headline does, that passengers would face chaos, even if Ryanair through use of its non-striking pilots maintained most of its scheduled service. Therefore, I cannot find a breach of Principle 1 (Truth and Accuracy) in the article or the accompanying headline. A breach of Principle 3 was also claimed by Ryanair. This Principle 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 Principle was breached.
8 November 2019