Easyjet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has failed in his bid to sue the Telegraph after the paper published a “good-humoured mocking” of his conspiracy theories.
Sir Stelios had claimed he has been libelled in the paper in a comment article surrounding his claim that three Easyjet shareholders were “strawmen” for Airbus and were hoping to thwart his campaign for the carrier to terminate its £4.5bn order for new aircraft.
However, a court backed the Telegraph who said its chief city commentator wrote a “good-humoured mocking” of Easyjet’s founder and his “strawman” conspiracy claims, reports Press Gazette.
Ben Marlow wrote in May that Sir Stelios had “decamped to the Caribbean paradise of St Barts to concentrate on an entire series of increasingly wild conspiracy theories” and that the “only thing that is made out of straw is his bizarre vendetta”.
Sir Stelios told the court the column’s portrayal of him was defamatory and that “if people thought he was deliberately making completely false allegations of serious wrongdoing as part of a baseless campaign against established investment companies, they would consider that outrageous and think much the worse of him for it”.
The Telegraph said that the column was clearly a comment piece and fell far short of a statement or insinuation that Sir Stelios had deliberately made a false or malicious allegation.
Mrs Justice Collins Rice agreed with the paper. In her judgment, the judge said the reader would have been expecting “informed and entertaining comment” from Marlow, who wrote the section in question in a diary-style postscript at the end of his column.
The judge concluded that the piece was merely an expression of Marlow’s opinion and that the ordinary reader would not think less of Sir Stelios on the strength of this column alone.
The full Press Gazette report can be read here
Photo: PA Wire