The airline dismissed its captain, John Goss, on Aug 14, following what its lawyer described as “serious, defamatory comments” made by him during the programme.
Paul Tweed, a senior partner at Johnson Solicitors, which is representing Ryanair, said those comments “impugned the integrity of the Irish aviation safety agencies, and by extension questioned Ryanair’s industry-leading safety record”.
“Mr Goss has failed to provide Ryanair with any acceptable explanation as to why he, as ‘one of Ryanair’s longest serving pilots’ and ‘a former flight safety officer’ appeared on the Dispatches programme which defamed Ryanair’s safety reputation, just weeks after he confirmed in writing on Jul 10 that he had no concerns regarding Ryanair’s safety,” said Mr Tweed in a statement.
The solicitor said that “extremely serious implications” had arisen from Mr Goss’s comments, which, he said, had been extensively reported across Europe and worldwide as questioning Ryanair’s safety.
“Johnsons have been instructed to vigorously pursue this defamation action, with a view to obtaining total vindication from Mr Goss of Ryanair’s industry-leading safety which has been independently verified as being “on a par with the safest airlines in Europe”, he said.
Mr Goss had been with the airline for about 26 years prior to his dismissal and was due to retire in October. He recently gave an interview to a Belgian newspaper about safety issues at the airline.
The Ryanair Pilots Group has criticised the decision to sack Mr Goss, saying safety experts believe that a sound, safety culture has to be based on pilots “having faith in a non-punitive approach and dealing directly and transparently with all concerns raised”.
For its part, Ryanair has described the Ryanair Pilots Group as “a PR front for the European Cockpit Association, which is the club of pilots unions of Ryanair’s EU airline competitors”.
Last week, Mr Tweed confirmed Ryanair had issued defamation proceedings against Channel 4/Blakeway Productions, Associated Newspapers (Mailonline), and the Mirror Group following the programme, Secrets from the Cockpit.
He said at that point that a writ of summons had also been issued in the North against the Belfast Telegraph, and other litigation was pending. However, after the Belfast Telegraph issued an apology, the airline discontinued that action.
Since the programme aired, Ryanair has insisted that it is “justifiably proud of its 29-year safety record, which had been fully endorsed by the Irish Aviation Authority and other European regulators”.