The High Court has refused Ryanair's application to include evidence about the alleged downloading of material from its internal computer system by Peter Bellew in its ongoing action against its Chief Operations Officer.   

Mr Justice Senan Allen ruled that evidence that the airline sought to introduce as part of its bid to enforce a non-compete clause contained in Mr Bellew's contract of employment was "irrelevant" to the issues the court must decide in the case.

The material that Ryanair sought to introduce consisted of an expert forensic report where it is alleged Mr Bellew on three occasions since July, when he announced his intention to leave Ryanair and join easyJet, had accessed and downloaded information onto company devices, including an iPhone and iPad used by him. 

Ryanair, represented by Martin Hayden SC, had accepted that there might be a perfectly innocent explanation to the matters contained in the report, sought to have the report included as part of its action against Mr Bellew. 

However, the Judge said that the proposed evidence was irrelevant, in a case where the court has been asked if a clause in Mr Bellew's contact preventing him from joining easyJet for a period of 12 months after he departs Ryanair is enforceable or not.

The Judge added that he was not prepared to allow "an inquisition" into matters contained in the report on what was the sixth day of a case where the court hopes to be in a position to give a decision before the Christmas holidays.

To admit this particular evidence to the case, the Judge added, would prolong the hearing by some days and would inevitably delay the court's decision.

The judge also deemed an incident on November 27th last where it was alleged by Ryanair that Mr Bellew was going to remove a confidential document, printed by his colleague Neal McMahon, from the Ryanair premises as also being irrelevant. 

Mr Bellew, the court heard, denies any wrongdoing in respect of those matters.

The court heard that it is Mr Bellew's case that he took the confidential document in error, while he had been printing others documents on the printer, which was used by up to seven people in Ryanair.

Once he realised it was in his possession he returned the document to Mr McMahon, the court heard.

Issues concerning the printer were also contained in the expert report which Ryanair had sought to include in the action.

The Judge made the ruling following an application by Mr Bellew's counsel John Rogers SC who asked the court to "curtail" Ryanair who he said was attempting to undermine his client's reputation.

Mr Rogers said that his side would require additional time to secure an expert to challenge the contents of the forensic report.

Counsel added that what was being alleged against Mr Bellew in relation to what he had done with confidential material was "spurious" and "emphasised Michael O'Leary's role in all of this,".

The judge's ruling came on the sixth day of Ryanair's action against Mr Bellew, who Ryanair has sued over his decision to take up employment with easyJet next month.

Following the court's ruling, Mr Hayden, appearing with Neil Murphy Bl said Ryanair's case has now concluded and accepted that the proposed evidence would not be used in this action.

In a claim, denied by Mr Bellew, Ryanair says he cannot commence work with what it considers to be its main rival in the low fares aviation sector because of a 12-month non-compete clause in his contract of employment.

On Wednesday the court also heard evidence from Karsten Muhlenfeld, Ryanair's Director of Maintenance and Engineering.

He said that he had difficulties in getting decisions from Mr Bellew, who was his immediate superior in the organisation.

The issues raised with Mr Bellew included the recruitment of additional engineering staff, getting pay increases for staff, and securing additional facilities for the airline.

Under cross-examination by Tom Mallon BL for Mr Bellew, Mr Muhlenfeld accepted that Mr Bellew had done important work helping the engineering section which was of benefit to Ryanair.

When asked if he believed that Mr Bellew and Michael O'Leary's relationship had deteriorated over time he replied "I am an engineer. I don't do belief. Belief is for Church."

He said he did not know anything about Mr Bellew's and Mr O'Leary's relationship. All he could say was that in recent times Mr Bellew and Mr O'Leary had not met each other as much as they had done previously.

In its action, Ryanair seeks an order requiring Mr Bellew to specifically perform his contract of employment with Ryanair, which includes the non-compete clause.

It also seeks an injunction preventing Mr Bellew of Glenconnor House, Killarney, Co Kerry from acting contrary to the post-termination restrictions allegedly contained his contract of employment. 

In his defence, Mr Bellew denies any breach of contract and says the purported clause is unenforceable. Mr Bellew will begin his evidence to the court on Thursday.