They battled with ITV over the Coronation Street ladies, but now it looks as though Channel 4's Dispatches may have to go to war in the courts with Ryanair over their latest documentary, which made allegations about the airline's fuel and safety record.
Ryanair hit back at Inside The Cockpit, which the airline claims was filled with defamatory statements "which wrongly impugn and smear Ryanair’s outstanding 29 year safety record based on nothing more than anonymous hearsay claims made by individuals whose identity was concealed, and/or by representatives of pilot unions of Ryanair’s competitor airlines masquerading as a Non Ryanair Pilot Group."
The airline released a full statement on its official website, detailing its position on the documentary, and reassuring customers that the Irish Aviation Authority was perfectly happy with its safety record. They argued that the programme makers had refused Ryanair's offer of "legally binding guarantees to the individuals involved of no sanction if they made these claims on the record, solely so that Ryanair could publish details of their individual flight records, fuel records, sickness records and safety reports which would disprove their false claims".
The company went on to state that Dispatches ignored evidence provided by Ryanair and the IAA, "which disproved these fuel and safety claims, Dispatches have failed to address or report this evidence, preferring instead to publish these false claims in an unfair, unbalanced and inaccurate programme."
They also claimed that Dispatches had refused Ryanair’s offer of an unedited interview with CEO Michael O’Leary, during which he would be willing to address any claims raised by Dispatches and "rubbish the false claims made by these anonymous contributors". They say Dispatches would only interview the airline boss if they could edit his answers, and Ryanair were having none of that.
The last straw seems to have been an apparent refusal to read out the original draft of a Ryanair statement rejecting the claims. "Channel 4 Dispatches have refused to report this short statement in its unedited form", Ryanair's website states.