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Stelios and Pinocchio

Written by Ben Evans on 20 February 2010

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The founder of budget airline easyJet is in a legal dispute with the chief executive of rivals Ryanair.

The dispute relates to an advert depicting Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou with a Pinocchio esque long nose, Pinocchio of course being a wooden boy whose nose grew whenever he lied. Stelios has issued a claim for libel against Ryanair: "With this advert he went too far and I am obliged to draw the line here. This is a libel action about my own reputation as an individual, not about comparing the two airlines...He called me a liar. I am not a liar. That is libellous, and I will seek substantial damages."

In a show of light-heartedness the Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary offered to settle the dispute with a race around Trafalgar Square however when news of the claim reached O'Leary he changed the offer saying: "Stelios obviously can't run, but he can't hide either...If he's too scared to run then why doesn't he accept our challenge to a bout of Sumo wrestling instead."

O'Leary is reported to have said that Stelio's claims are "full of rubbish" and will continue with the advertisements until easyJet publish details of their punctuality statistics.

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