Ryanair seeks to ID ‘defamatory’ online parties

Ryanair has secured a High Court order compelling Eircom to disclose the identities of two anonymous parties who have been making posts about it on a pilot’s website which the airline says is “highly defamatory”.

The airline claims the false material that impugns Ryanair’s excellent safety record has been posted on the PPRuNe website, known as the Professional Pilots Rumour Network, by two parties using the pseudonyms ASFKAP and Built4Speed.

Ryanair sought the orders because it intends to sue the two parties. The orders were granted yesterday by Mr Justice Paul Gilligan.

Eircom must now disclose to Ryanair all information, excluding emails, which assists in identifying the parties assigned the IP addresses where the allegedly defamatory posts came from.

The disclosure of the IP address relates only to the relevant time, date, and timezones of the allegedly defamatory posts.

In an affidavit, Ryanair’s director of legal and regulatory affairs and company secretary Juliusz Komorek said a number of posts published about the airline by the two parties have caused it serious concern.

The court heard some of the statements allegedly posted on the website by ASFKAP within the past two years included: “Can we not have a separate forum for Ryanair narrow escapes, near misses, airworthiness incidents and bullying and harassment issues? They are coming so thick and fast now its is hard to keep up with them all.”

Another post was said to read: “It would certainly make it a lot easier for the lawyers to go back and see the writing on the wall and the warning signs that went unheeded in the somewhat inevitable event that a Ry-anair pilot eventually runs out of fuel and/or luck”

Statements from Built4Speed that Ryanair alleges are defamatory include: “Its amazing to see the number of Ryanair Pilots predicting crash are increasing rapidly...... The aircraft are new, they better stay that way that seems to be the reason nobody has died yet. Crash imminent.”

Mr Komerek said that while Ryanair had no objection to honest and objective comment it had “no option other to take action concerning these false and defamatory statements” given what they say about the company’s “excellent safety record”.

Brendan Kirwan, for Ryanair, told the court his client wants to sue the individuals behind the posts, but in order to do this it needs to know their identities.

The company had originally commenced proceedings in California where the PPRuNe website is registered. As part of that action Ryanair engaged an expert who discovered that the two posters, ASFKAP and Built4Speed, had IP addresses from Eircom’s DSL/ADSL, said Mr Kirwan.

Ryanair required a court order compelling Eircom to disclose to it the identities of the parties using the IP addresses in question. Eircom cannot, in the absence of such an order, provide that information, he added.

Mr Kirwan said Ryanair was not suggesting any wrongdoing on the part of Eircom. Eircom neither consented nor objected to the airline’s application. Ryanair also agreed to pay Eircom’s legal costs in regards to the application.

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