EasyJet owner Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is suing Michael O’Leary for libel, accusing the Ryanair chief executive of “despicable behaviour” for an advertising campaign characterising the Greek entrepreneur as Pinnochio and implying he lied about EasyJet’s punctuality statistics.
“It was about time someone was willing to spend the money to take this arrogant man to court for his despicable behaviour,” Sir Stelios said. “He called me a liar, I am not a liar. That is libellous, and I will seek substantial damages.”
Earlier this week, in response to a letter from Sir Stelios’s lawyers branding the adverts “baseless and grossly defamatory”, Mr O’Leary’s suggested that the contretemps be settled by a “chariots of fire” race around Trafalgar Square. Sir Stelios ignored the challenge yesterday, and his lawyers commenced High Court proceedings instead.
In response, Mr O’Leary reiterated his proposal of a physical contest. “Stelios obviously can’t run, but he can’t hide either,” Mr O’Leary said. “If he’s too scared to run then why doesn’t he accept our challenge to a bout of Sumo wrestling instead.”