Ryanair asks for new judge due to 'uncomfortable bedfellows' comment

Ryanair has asked a High Court judge, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, not to hear an action by the airline on grounds of comments by the judge that Ryanair and the truth are "uncomfortable bedfellows".

Ryanair has asked a High Court judge, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, not to hear an action by the airline on grounds of comments by the judge that Ryanair and the truth are "uncomfortable bedfellows".

In a motion before the judge today, Ryanair asked Mr Justice Kelly to discharge himself from determining a dispute involving the airline and a UK-based firm, Terravision London Finance Ltd, which provides bus services from airports where Ryanair operates.

Ryanair claims that the Terravision is in breach of a contract that the parties entered into. However Terravision has denied the airline's claims and is opposing Ryanair's motion.

Ryanair has brought a pre-trial motion on the grounds of a reasonable apprehension of bias due to the judge's conduct and his beliefs expressed towards the airline in a separate case brought by the airline against the Commission for Aviation Regulation, where the judge described the truth and Ryanair as uncomfortable bedfellows.

In a judgement last June Mr Justice Kelly refused Ryanair permission to bring a judicial review challenge to a determination by the Commission for Aviation Regulation to fix maximum charges for Dublin Airport over the years 2010-2014.

In his judgement, the judge said that "having had to consider Ryanair's untruths to the court, its untruths about the court and its untruths about the then Minister [for Transport, Noel Dempsey], one has to conclude that the truth and Ryanair are uncomfortable bedfellows".

He added that factual misstatements in affidavits put by Ryanair before the court in that case had "misled the court in a material way", he noted. Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary had, in a letter to then Mr Dempsey in February 2010, "seriously misrepresented" the position of the judge.

He added that a later letter to the Minister from Ryanair's head of legal affairs, Juliusz Komorek, was "to like effect". Mr O'Leary had also made "a pathetic attempt" to try and justify the untruth in his letter.

Moving the application today, Martin Hayden SC for Ryanair said that the application is based on those comments that the judge made about his clients.

Counsel said that in an affidavit to the court, Mr O'Leary expresses his apprehension that the judge has expressed a conclusion that Ryanair does not tell the truth. The judge's belief, Mr O'Leary said, is not confined to particular persons within Ryanair or the particular issues that arose in the case involving the Aviation Authority.

Counsel said that Ryanair's Chief Operations Officer Michael Cawley, who is a witness in the action involving Terravision, stated in his affidavit that he has an apprehension that any version of events he advances to the court would be influenced by Mr Justice Kelly's conclusion that Ryanair and the truth are uncomfortable bedfellows.

In reply to the judge, counsel accepted that untruths had been told "to the court, about the court and about the Minister", in the case concerning the charges at Dublin Airport. After that ruling, Mr O'Leary apologised to the court.

The judge also asked counsel if the motion was based on counsel's submissions only as Mr O'Leary "had gone behind his back" and written on more than one occasion to the President of the High Court. In reply Mr Hayden said that the case was based on the submissions only.

Counsel for Terravision Rossa Fanning said while the motion was not strict one that involved his client, it was none the less opposing the application. Counsel said that Terravision could see no reason why the judge should not hear the action.

Following the conclusion of submissions Mr Justice Peter Kelly reserved judgement on the matter.

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