Brian Edwards Media

What actually happened on Jetstar flight JQ262 and should Martin Devlin have been taken off the flight by police? I investigate.

At 2.01pm on  Tuesday 24 May this year the New Zealand Herald ran a story on its website headlined “Martin Devlin Escorted off plane”.

At 5.48pm it updated the earlier report with a longer story headlined “Devlin says cabin staff ‘overreacted’”.

A front-page story in the next morning’s paper was headlined: “Air Rage: Evicted Devlin speaks out”. Its billboard that day read, “Air Rage – TV Star Speaks Out”.

All 3 stories claimed that “witnesses said Devlin was ‘making a scene’ and being ‘abusive’ toward crew.”

Wednesday’s front page story reported that sports broadcaster Martin Devlin had been removed by police from Jetstar flight JQ262 which had left Wellington the previous morning destined for Auckland, but, after circling for an hour,  had been forced to return to Wellington because of fog at Auckland airport. The plane eventually landed in Wellington at midday. It had been in the air for approximately three and a half hours.

According to the Herald:

“Witnesses said he [Devlin] made a scene and was abusive after it was diverted back to Wellington.

“A Jetstar spokeswoman said there was ‘just the one’ passenger who had caused trouble.

“A person who was on the plane said that when passengers were later let back on the plane, Devlin did not return. On the diverted flight Devlin had been abusive and making a scene, the passenger said.

“Police said no charges had been laid.”

The Herald story went on to remind readers that, “In December, Devlin was charged after an incident on Quay Street, Auckland, in which he jumped on the bonnet on his wife’s car.”

The Herald’s claim that “witnesses said” Devlin had been making  a scene and was abusive to cabin crew was subsequently reported by One News (on its website), 3 News, Newstalk ZB, The Otago Daily Times and Stuff whose network includes ten newspapers, including the Dominion Post and The Press. All mentioned the earlier event when Devlin had jumped on his wife’s car.

It is true that Devlin was escorted off the plane by police when it landed in Wellington. They did so in response to an in-flight call from the captain who (I am assuming) had received a complaint from one of his cabin crew.

It is almost certainly not true that Devlin had “made a scene” or “been abusive to cabin crew”.  

Let’s begin with the police. This is what one of the officers who escorted Martin off the plane at Wellington airport and took him back to the station reported:

“I have created a very basic file in relation to what happened with Martin, so it is not very detailed.

“He was not even given a formal warning by police, and the file is basically for notification purposes only because airport police were called to an aviation related incident.”

In other words, if a pilot asks for police assistance, the police are obliged to provide it, regardless of the actual merit of any complaint which has been made by the pilot, cabin crew or passengers. The fact that Martin “was not even given a formal warning by police” would suggest that they did not feel anything of consequence had happened.

So what of the Herald’s “witnesses”. According to Herald Editor, Shayne Currie, in an email to Devlin:

“Two witnesses were used for the story – one who spoke to [us] directly and another passenger who had spoken to the stewardess and had tweeted about the incident. Both said you were abusive.”

The Herald doesn’t name the first “witness” so that testimony can’t be checked. The second “witness” was TV3 Campbell Live reporter, Tristram Clayton, who was on the plane and who, on landing, posted a single tweet in which he said that police had taken Devlin off the plane and that a stewardess had told him Devlin had been abusive and had made her cry.

Clayton denies having spoken to the Herald. So when Currie says “Both said you were abusive”, he must be referring to the stewardess as the second witness. Since she is the complainant, this means that he has really only one independent witness to what happened and that person is not identified.

It’s worth asking the question here whether it is responsible for a major publication to rely on a single, unnamed witness and a single tweet when publishing a front-page story, headed “Air Rage”, in which it reports a passenger on a plane as having made a scene and been abusive to cabin crew. And, second, whether it is responsible for other media to repeat these accusations verbatim without making their own inquiries.

For the record, Tristram Clayton, the author of the tweet, tells me that he neither saw nor heard Devlin make a scene during the flight and he neither  saw nor heard Devlin abuse anyone during the flight. When he realised that  the issue was gaining momentum in other media, he deleted the tweet altogether. Campbell Live did not run any item on the incident.

Martin Devlin’s version of events is that he had slept through most of the flight to Auckland, that he woke up to find the plane circling Auckland in a holding pattern and was told by South African rugby legend Bob Skinstad who was sitting next to him, that the plane couldn’t land because of fog. He found this surprising since other planes, similar to the Jetstar, were landing. He then went to the toilet and asked a stewardess who was standing nearby, “Why can’t we land?” According to Devlin,  the following brief conversation ensued:

Stewardess: “We don’t have the equipment to land in fog.”

Devlin: “Are you sure? It’s a modern plane. I just don’t believe your spin.”

A bit rude certainly. But not “abusive” and definitely not enough to have police waiting to escort you off the plane.

Devlin says that sometime later he was standing in the aisle talking to Australian rugby great John Eales, New Zealand promoter Dean Lonergan, former New Zealand All Black captain David Kirk and Bobby Skinstad, when an announcement came that the plane would be returning to Wellington.

“At this stage, yes, frustrated like most other passengers, I made a remark to the group along the lines, ‘This is what you get when you fly a cheap-ass airline’. I didn’t know the same stewardess was virtually standing behind me. I turned and went back to my seat. She followed me and said something like, ‘Any more of that and I’ll call the police to meet you when we land.’ I never for a second thought she was serious and I replied (something like) ‘Yeah, whatever,’ thinking nothing of it.”

Devlin was subsequently escorted off the plane by two police officers and taken to the airport police station.

“The whole time I was asking, ‘What have I done?’ About 4 or 5 minutes after I sat down in the station, the older policeman came back and said, ‘Martin, nothing happened here, you can go.’”

I have been unable to contact John Eales but got in touch by email with Bob Skinstad in South Africa. He wrote back to me:

“Hi Brian. I was relatively close to Martin, and although he slept most of the trip, heard some of the exchange. Details are a bit sketchy but remember being very surprised that anyone had taken offense, as he seemed little more than mildly irritated, bearing in mind that we had been in the air for almost triple usual flight time.”

Late last night I wrote back again and asked Bob specifically whether at any time in the flight he had seen or heard Devlin “make a scene” or “abuse” any of the cabin crew? He replied this morning:

“Well that’s easy – he wasn’t making a scene, at worst he muttered under his breath, and he certainly wasn’t abusive to any staff members.”

I have also been in contact with Dean Lonergan, promoter David Higgins of Duco Events, and former All Black captain, David Kirk. All three say that at no time during the flight did they see or hear Devlin “making a scene” and at no point during the flight did they see or hear Devlin “abusing” a member of the cabin crew.

There is one further witness. Some days later a passenger on the plane happened to bump into a friend and was telling him the story of what had gone on. Though he did not know Devlin and had never met him, he was particularly incensed by the coverage in the Herald. The friend turned out to be a friend of Devlin’s as well. The passenger asked for Devlin’s email address. This is the email he sent to Devlin:

I was on the Jetstar flight JQ262 on the 24th May 2011 from Wellington to Auckland that circled over Auckland for several hours unable to land due to fog conditions. On landing back at Wellington I observed a passenger being escorted from the plane by Police before the rest of the passengers were allowed to disembark.

What follows is what I observed that presumably led to this. If there were other incidents than what I observed below then I know nothing of them.

 I was seated two rows from where a group of people were standing in the aisle near where David Kirk, John Eales etc were seated. One of the chaps in that group (later escorted from the plane) was obviously frustrated at events and made a comment as much to himself as to anyone else. The comment was to the effect that this is what you get when you fly a low cost airline and that it was a joke.

 I do not remember the precise words but do recall that it was a sounding off of frustration without swearing or being directed at any individual.

 It so happened that as that comment was being made a stewardess had walked up to that group from the rear of the plane and was standing just in front of me. Having made the comment the passenger walked past the other standing passengers and the stewardess to the seats behind me making no further comments.

 However, the stewardess pursued the passenger stating several times to clearly get his attention…  “Sir ! that’s not the case… Sir that’s not the case … Sir that’s not the case…” She was clearly determined to make a point which the customer was clearly not interested in engaging on as he continued walking to the back without comment.

 After that I do not know what happened. I do know that it appeared to me that the stewardess was determined to have the last word and put the customer right when it was obvious there was no need.  He had stopped talking and was returning to his seat of his own volition. No one had asked him to do so etc. The incident if there was one was over at that point without any abuse and argument.

 It’s my assessment that he was not talking to the stewardess but rather to the group and as much to himself when he voiced his frustration. He showed no interest in getting in an argument with the stewardess when she pursued him.

 In my opinion the stewardess showed poor judgement in determinedly pursuing and trying to persuade a customer that their opinion was wrong. If there was a subsequent argument it only happened because she pursued a passenger and initiated and provoked it by her actions in pursuing a customer to make a point when there was no need and nothing to be gained.

 It was not even a storm in a teacup in my opinion, but the ego of the stewardess was clearly offended by the comment in the aisle – perhaps it was a straw and the camel’s back after what would have been a difficult flight handling a lot of upset passengers as well as their own discomfort and this poor chap copped it as a result.

 I hope this sets the record straight. What a coincidence to be telling the tale to people who knew you. Obviously my company cannot be mentioned in the public arena  and would prefer my name was not mentioned as it is so unusual but I stand behind this.

  Regards

 This email not merely confirms Devlin’s version of what happened, but goes considerably further. While expressing understanding of the strain the cabin crew must have been under during the flight, it unambiguously blames the stewardess for the stand-off between her and Devlin.

I therefore contacted the writer of this email and asked him to phone me. He did. I asked him whether he was a friend of Devlin’s, whether he had ever met him or spoken to him. His answer to each question was an adamant No. I asked him whether he stood by his version of events. He was equally adamant that he did.

In the Herald’s favour, it must be said that it offered Devlin reasonable opportunity to present his side of the story, which was essentially that the stewardess had over-reacted.

But, given the previous episode with the car, the use of the term “Air Rage” in the front-page headline and on the billboards, the reference  in all three stories and subsequently in other media to Devlin having “made a scene”, been “abusive” to cabin crew, and having been taken off the plane by police, the effect of the story can only have been to persuade readers that “that nutter Martin Devlin” was at it again. I suspect that was also its intention.

Despite Shayne Currie’s only witness, the truth of the matter is that a Jetstar stewardess, who had been having a really bad day, seriously over-reacted to one innocuous if somewhat unfriendly comment made to her by a passenger and another extremely unflattering comment about Jetstar by the same passenger which was not directed to her at all but which she happened to overhear. Her response in insisting on debating the matter with Devlin, threatening to call the police if he said the same thing again, then actually asking the pilot to arrange for the police to escort Devlin off the plane when it arrived back in Wellington, was so over the top that it boggles the imagination.

If she intends to continue in this line of work, she may have to toughen up a bit. She may also have to realise that calling the police and having someone taken off a plane is normal procedure for drunks, people annoying other passengers, people making trouble, people threatening or displaying violence and people endangering the safety of other passengers. It is not normal procedure for passengers expressing dissatisfaction with the airline.

If I were Devlin:

a)    I would be seeking legal advice  on taking action for defamation against the Herald and all the other media who slavishly reported the paper’s assertions that Devlin had been “making a scene” on the flight and that he had been “abusive” to cabin crew. No one on the flight  other than the Herald’s mysterious “witness” and the stewardess concerned appears to have been aware of any “scene” taking place or any “abuse” being offered to the crew. Several prominent people deny that either happened. One passenger says that the roles were actually reversed.

b)    I would be seeking legal advice on suing Jetstar for the damage to my  personal and professional reputation caused by having the police remove me from the flight and for informing the media that I had been “making a scene” and had been “abusive” to cabin crew.

At the very least, both the Herald and Jetstar have behaved appallingly and owe Devlin a very public apology.

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56 Comments:

  1. I admire your persistence in following this up so thoroughly Brian. I’m not sure it’s worthy of so much attention – when I read the story I thought it was a storm in a teacup about someone (Devlin) who had been a bit grumpy on the flight. I wonder if most other readers thought the same and moved on to something more interesting and relevant. Isn’t bringing it to public attention via your suggestions above revisiting a minor incident that is otherwise long forgotten?

    BE: A passenger, who happens to be a well-known media figure, is wrongfully taken off a plane by police. He is then wrongfully accused of having made a scene and abused cabin crew on the flight. This is reported in media across the country, including a front-page story in the largest newspaper, headed ‘Air Rage’, seriously damaging his reputation and work prospects – and you want to know whether this is worthy of so much attention! Cripes!

  2. Yawn……just another stupid, minor, New Zealand media celebrity behaving badly…again. I wonder how he reacts if there is no vacant table and chairs for him and his wife to sit down and enjoy cups of expresso and slices of cheese cake at the outdoor cafe.

    BE: Pity you hadn’t time to read the post, Edward!

  3. “New Zealand media celebrity behaving badly…again.”

    Have you actually read what has been written? If correct, Devlin reacted no differently to the way in which you or I might have expressed our frustration.

    When I first read the news report my immediate instinct was thatwe were only being told about atenth of the story and knowing Dingo Airlines were involved my immediate sympathies were with Devlin.

    This is the airline whose staff member in Auckland a few months ago vaulted the counter and attacked a customer. This is the airline that has a web site dedicated to it “Don’t Fly Jetstar” This is the airline that has a long record for appalling rudeness to its customers. This is the airline that let thousands of customers down last week whilst our national carrier continued too fly. And they had the bare faced effrontery to prattle on about safety.

    Devlin was 100% correct when he said, “This is what you get when you fly a cheap-ass airline” and certainly I refuse to travel with them no matter how cheap.

    My only criticism of devlin is that I would have thought that he had more money and sense and need not have patronised this mob in the first place.

  4. Unless you were on that aircraft it is difficult to judge a situation like this.

    BE: I have deleted the rest of your comment because I have no way of assessing its accuracy. What you say is defamatory and I’m not prepared to take the risk of publishing it. You really shouldn’t take that risk either. Hope it doesn’t deter you from continuing to comment.

  5. Brian, it is great to see the art of investigative journalism is alive and well. I work with Martin. He is a friend of mine. And it’s great to see some balance finally come into play into the reporting of “the flight”. A few people will be hanging their heads in shame today. And many of them should have known better.

  6. Good on you Brian for defending another man’s honor. I don’t like Devlin much but he doesn’t deserve having his reputation sullied by a beat up story.
    It seems the real angle is much more about JetStar and the occasional arrogance of it’s staff. We have heard reports of this many times.

  7. 7

    David Burke-Kennedy

    I admire balanced investigating like this Brian and agree with your advice to Devlin (whom I don’t personally know). I think he has been treated pretty unfairly by Granny Herald and others who failed to get the whole story. Meanwhile Jetstar continues to be a joke albeit a bad one.

  8. I know it is not related but after the wheelchair fiasco, it would behove Jetstar to make sure its customer service was exemplary. Air stewards / stewardesses have a tough job but this has always been the case and as far as I know there is no shortage of applicants.

  9. While this story may be a good hint that it is dangerous to fly Jetstar (you may be escorted off the plane by police for any mis-understood comment) the real story is about the lack of competence of the NZHerald reporter and editor in writing the story and letting it go through on the front page. This style of reporting does need to have it’s consequences, otherwise it will continue to grow to the point that no article will have the credibility to be worth reading.
    Maybe regular such reporting is why more of us are reading blogs instead of newspapers for our news.

  10. I guess the stewardess was feeling stressed for whatever reason and overreacted, but of course the real issue is the lack of reporting integrity.
    I imagine that sometime soon Mr Devlin will trip over a crack in the footpath, say, “Bugger me!” and the Herald will publish “Devlin Tantrum Does it Again! Wife Tantrum, Air Rage accused, Now Accused of Footpath Abuse. Council Worker Reduced to Tears!” or some such.

  11. This is from the US.

    Sergeant Michael Rodriguez said 20-year-old Deshon Marman was boarding a flight on Wednesday to Albuquerque, New Mexico, when a US Airways employee noticed his pants were “below his buttocks, but above the knees, and his boxer shorts were showing”.

    “Sergeant Rodriguez told the San Francisco Chronicle that the employee asked Marman to pull up his pants, but he refused. She then asked him to leave the plane.

    The officer said that after 15 minutes, Marman got off the plane and was cited for trespassing.”

    The moral is when flying; keep your trap shut and your pants up!

    This also sparked the thought in my mind as to how Merv gets on when flying.

  12. So Sanctuary. “This is a pack of lies. I, to, have spoken to people directly involved in this incident and they contradict everything said here.”
    So Sanctuary was telling lies.

  13. Good on you Brian, nice to see some actual reporting for a change, rather than froth. I can’t abide Martin Devlin on the radio or telly, but he does appear to have been mightily stitched up.

  14. Brian…I notice you have probably wisely not published or withdrawn some content in this thread. Sadly I think you would find there are two sides to this particular coin.

    • The deleted thread came from Sanctuary, who wrote:

      “This is a pack of lies. I, to, have spoken to people directly involved in this incident and they contradict everything said here.”

      The rest of his comment was deleted as being defamatory (and he’d also confused Martin Devlin with someone else). In attempting to edit the comment, I managed to delete it, however, thanks to Ianmac I have retrieved the only printable portion of the comment.

  15. You’re completely right here, being an obnoxious twat is not a crime in NZ . Well done for being The Stalwart Defender of the Falsely Accused and pointing out the hostess’s overeaction.
    Had he been accused of trying to drag her into the toilet to have his way with her , it would be a very different story. Simple for the police though, as there would have been plenty of witnesses.
    You should try to get over the Hughes case. It’s not like you are Labour’s chief spin Doctor any more. Or am I speculating again ?

    BE: I have never been anybody’s “spin doctor”. The term implies manipulating the truth. I don’t believe in it purely for moral reasons but simply because it is invariably counter-productive.

  16. BE: Pity you hadn’t time to read the post, Edward!

    Did too!, all be it at 4.31 AM and my immediate thought was almost exactly what Moira Hagenson said, even though I didn’t see her comment because it probably ended up in your junk mail box. My second thought was, “I wonder if Mark is one of Brian’s Facebook Friends”. I was advised by the IT professionals at the Poltyech to be wary of having too much of a profile on the internet and to know how to impose privacy restrictions on who has access to what information. Good advice, you would have to agree? As for the rights or wrongs of Devlin’s particular predicament, I couldn’t care less and hope he has learnt to refrain from thinking that being a sports journalist gives him the right to be such a prat. LOL.

  17. “Devlin was 100% correct when he said, “This is what you get when you fly a cheap-ass airline””

    Well, don’t bloody fly with them then !

  18. “Sadly I think you would find there are two sides to this particular coin.”

    For the benfit of those of us not gifted with second sight, would you like to share with us your inside knowledge?

    If you are not prepared to then your comment must be dismissed as malicious speculation as are all of the other comments suggesting that there is more to this story.

  19. BE: You’ve done your best to present a definitive and impartial assessment of what actually occurred on board that flight. It does seem that it was an over-reaction by the stewardess in reporting the matter to the pilot, the pilot requesting a police presence to escort Devlin off the plane, and the Herald for banner-lining the incident as “Air Rage” (which fell well short of that).

    Despite the testimonials from the numerous sportspeople (including David Kirk) and the correspondence of the unnamed business person, it still comes down to individual perceptions and reactions between the two principal protagonists. You might find, that the stewardess offers a completely different version of events as recorded here.

    Devlin’s spoken-words, in print, appear quite rude; but it doesn’t take into account as to how they were imparted. It could be that they were tonally-inflected which went beyond your normal garden variety rudeness and annoyance. There are also facial expressions and body language, which the stewardess could have interpreted as being threatening. We don’t know that from reading the transcript of the supposed verbal exchanges.

    There also appears to be a fair dose of “ifs”, “buts” and “maybes”. What “if” the stewardess hadn’t been standing behind Devlin and heard his last remark etc. Arguing Devlin’s case on the basis of counterfactuals will never be that compelling, in saying he was wronged in being booted off. But I’m fairly certain that the stewardess felt slighted, diminished and humiliated, by the antics of a passenger who woke up from a nap on the wrong side of the seat’s armrest. No one knows, for certain, the exact antecedents and the temporal order of events that led to the “final straw”.

    Devlin: “Are you sure? It’s a modern plane. I just don’t believe your spin.”

    “This is what you get when you fly a cheap-ass airline”.

    Seriously, is this acceptable conduct, while flying? There should be special ejector seats on board planes for passengers who make those kind of remarks.

    But I’m very surprised that Devlin should place himself in a position where he runs the risk of being reported on. Again. Is he not aware that air travel is traveling in a huis clos environment, where one idle remark — or joke — can land you in a whole heap of trouble; moreso, post 9/11.

    What is it with this guy? Did he become a little too embolden after shooting the breeze with some noted personalities, and decided to parade his conceit in front of the stewardess? Or, was he acting-up like a “right plum”, again? Is he a slow-learner or what?

    BE: If the police were called to take every traveller off a plane who’d grumbled to cabin crew about something, very few people would be flying. My information is that there was in fact a great deal of grumbling from passengers on this flight. You can get pretty irritable after 3 and a half hours on a plane, especially when you’re back where you started. I haven’t defended Devlin’s conduct; I’m saying that he neither “made a scene” nor was “abusive” to cabin crew.

  20. Moral of the story – be polite to your stewardess.

  21. He’s not supposed to be grumpy at his age. May he has liver problems.

  22. Excellent – I’d be very keen to find out exactly what happened with the Tim Southee plane incident as his name was dirtied a lot worse than Devlin’s. And if what I’ve heard happened on that plane really happened – ie virtually nothing – he should be suing tvnz and all sorts…..
    I hate news items based on random people getting in touch with media and on a slow news day, they run with it.

  23. I do hope you are mentoring young journalists, Brian. It would be very sad to see your standards disappear from the media altogether.

  24. the poppy loppers are out in force, sharpening their scythes.how full of glee they are to make anyone in the public eye pay for the exposure they themselves crave. poppy loppers relish sitting in unqualified judgement and declaring their baseless verdict- “guilty and off with your head!” how these droopy blooms gain traction is beyond me. ah right- their allies also reside in the offices of ‘flagship’ newspapers perhaps.

  25. Maybe it was a case of a mid-air ego crash between a low profile sports broadcaster and a low profile airplane waitress whose job is no more important than the guy who cleans my local public toilet. The scene is set with a sports writer surrounded by a group of very high profile sportsmen eager to exit a cheap domestic flight, and maybe it was a case of Devlin trying some bravado in front of them.Lets not forget however, that it was a go nowhere story sensationalised by the media on one of their own.

    BE: “Maybe it was a case of a mid-air ego crash between a low profile sports broadcaster and a low profile airplane waitress whose job is no more important than the guy who cleans my local public toilet.” I hope that’s ironic, Alex, because if it isn’t, you may need some no-count psychotherapist to deal with your superiority complex.

  26. It is a pity that passengers cannot claim reciprocal rights. If police could be called to remove every member of cabin crew who had been rude to a passenger there would be no planes flying.

  27. Devlin should be removed from every flight…every time…ghastly little man!

    BE: Very thoughtful and reasoned comment, Kerry!

  28. This is just a chain reaction of over-reactions. Devlin gets grumpy on flight and makes a few insulting remarks to no-one in particular…….stewardess takes offence and calls cops presumably claiming to feel threatened ……… NZ Herald spins this into an air rage incident by a celebrity ……. blogger conducts indepth investigation and recasts it as a tabloid hatchet job severely damaging the reputation of a rival journalist.

    This is primary school stuff, all concerned should have a quiet lie down! Good to see that the cops showed commonsense.

    BE: Just a couple of comments on your comment. The start of the chain-reaction is missing: Passengers stuck on plane for three and a half hours; Many missing appointments; general frustration; cabin crew harried. Then: Devlin gets grumpy and asks stewardess why the plane can’t land; says he doesn’t accept her explanation which he calls ‘spin'; later makes a disparaging remark to the people he is travelling with about the airline; stewardess overhears remark, approaches Devlin, remonstrates with him and threatens that if he says anything like that again she will call the police; pilot calls police; Devlin is escorted off plane; Devlin is not even given a warning.

    As to whether this is ‘primary school stuff’, the sticks and stones that are thrown there do not result in the tarnishing of people’s reputations or them losing work and income, as has been the case here. As for everyone having ‘a quiet lie down’ that should really have been negotiated before Jetstar decided that an overheard, rudely expressed criticism of the airline merited call the police and having them remove a reasonably well known person in front of all the other passengers.

  29. 29

    Thank you Brian for making it clear what happened to my brother! The people of this country have no idea what impact that the rubbish reporting from those newspapers does to him and his family and how much stress it causes. I truly appreciate what you have done for Martin and his family.

  30. Chrisanne, I do not know your brother and never listen to him on radio. But I think it is sad that his reputation can be trashed in this way. Some of those on this site who have been blinded by their own prejuduces need to take a good look at themselves. There has been a lot of innendo related to “what really happened” but nonbody so far has had the guts to back up their malice with facts. Brian, one of the reasons I like this blog so much is because you can always be relied upon to present a rational and balanced view. Thank you for that. It is a gret pity that other contributors are unable to do this.

  31. 31

    Thank you Ben. Further more to my own post, Id like to add – How the hell would everyone who is bagging him feel if it was a member of YOUR family being lied about! It upsets us all we all get hurt by this bullocks!! Martin is no angel, neither am I and I have the same traits as him and I too would have been pissed off for being on a plane for that length of time and I too would have said the exact same thing. Like Martin or hate him, but just remember this, he is someones
    Son, Brother, Uncle and we actually LOVE him and get sick to death of the crap the media prints about him.

  32. “How the hell would everyone who is bagging him feel if it was a member of YOUR family being lied about!”

    If it was a member of my family and they had a reputation for foolish behaviour, I would be laughing my arse off, like I am anyway.

    BE: Given the tone of most of your comments, Edward, I’m inclined to think that most people would be grateful not to be a member of your family.

  33. Ben continues to labour the point about ‘a rational and balanced view’. Unfortunately in this litigious age that is not always so easy to obtain. My earlier offering, that was censored, was nothing to do with this flight but was an account of a personally witnessed encounter with Mr. Devlin. I was not giving my view on a situation that I had not experienced myself as many are here. I am pleased my comments were deleted as it was amateurish of me to expose myself and my host to possible legal action. It does beg the question, however, as to how you obtain ‘a rational and balanced view’ when one side is to some extent muzzled. Sometimes it means you really do have to read between the lines.

    BE: First, I think your point is a reasonable one, though I’d object to the word “censored”. As an individual, you are entitled to say anything you like. If what you say is untrue or defamatory, you take the risk of being sued. If you want to take that risk, that’s fine. But when you invite someone to publish what you have said, you then include the publisher in the risk. You of course know whether or not what you’ve said is true. The publisher (in the vast majority of cases) doesn’t know you from a bar of soap and can’t afford to take what you say at face value, if it might invite a writ for defamation. That restricts both you and me. If it’s any comfort, I was inclined to believe your story.

  34. Trouble with you Brian is that you don’t have much of a sense of humour when it comes to some of your silly mates landing themselves in the proverbial. Actually, I am on very good terms with all members of my family.

    BE: Well then, Edward, you are doing yourself and your family a disservice in the language and tone of many of the comments which you make on this site. It has nothing to do with humour. My sense of humour is in perfectly good order. But I’m not in favour of gratuitous and, in the case of most people who comment on blog sites, anonymous abuse or unkindness to other people. Commenters who like to dish that out, will get it back from me in spades. As for this particular comment, which was addressed to Martin’s sister, who was clearly distressed by the Herald story, do you find it ‘funny’ to say to her that if it had happened to a member of your family, you would be “laughing my arse off, like I am anyway”? Well, you probably do.

  35. 35

    Of course Edward you would be laughing your arse off coz YOU DA MAN. Dont try and pretend you know anything about my brother other than the total tribe and bullocks the media writes about him. Once again Brian thank you for telling the truth. Its about time someone had the balls to actually look into the rubbish that is reported. Martin is owed a public apology by all those newspapers and Jetstar! You should not be allowed to write total lies about someones life!!

  36. 36

    Its not just distressing for me it is very much so for my mum, my older brother, our children to see this crap being written about their son, brother and uncle. Just take a step back Edward and imgaine how this effects HIS family his wife his sons. Martin is not a “tv and radio star” to me he is my brother and a well loved and respected member of our family. So how dare you make fun of how this effects us!! Shame on you!!

  37. A great piece of writing, thank you Brian

  38. We’ve all been on flights where things haven’t gone to plan. The flight is delayed, re-directed, late or you happen to sit next to someone whose idiosyncrasies are not congruent with you, but like 99% of passengers who have been in these situations before, you deal with these frustration internally, in a disciplined, mature way. If every passenger who uttered their feelings while flying, then, yes we would probably have chaos in the air. Perhaps with a little more self-discipline, Martin Devlin wouldn’t have found himself confronted by the plonker flight attendant. I guess my comments are ironic Brian given I absolutely believe that all people are equal regardless of their wealth, occupation or intellect.

  39. “Perhaps with a little more self-discipline, Martin Devlin wouldn’t have found himself confronted by the plonker flight attendant”.

    What a millquetoast attitude! Why should Devlin, or anyone else have to exercise, “self-discipline” as determined by a control-freak?! It’s a free country, and the circimstances, as related, were nowhere near the equivalent of shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.

    If we just all sit there and shut up, like the corporate suits, or interfering politicians, or whoever want, then it is unlikely to change, is it alex? It was Devlin’s money, or at least his employers that bought the ticket, and it was his time being consumed, possibly needlessly. Let him have his say, without petty fascists restricting his freedom, or blackening his name, I say. If that’s alright, and doesn’t offend, and as long as no one is so insipid as to feel threatened or intimidated by the free exercise of expressing an opinion…

  40. I thought I’d died and gone to hell the one and only time I flew jetstar. We were loaded into their cattle-pen of a waiting room with the rest of New Zealand, and the flights both ways were over an hour late. As well as that, there was so little air in the waiting lounge and so many people crammed into it, I came very close myself to making a few blue comments to anyone who would listen. Like Martin (I suspect), I will never ever use Jetstar again. You can get cheaper flights on (much nicer) Air New Zealand’s grabaseat anyway if you need a bargain.

  41. Thanks Brian for pursuing the truth on this.
    Like some others who read the original story, my immediate reaction was that the reality probably lay somewhere, but certainly not within the story itself.
    I get the impression that journalism today is more about crafting a story in language that can be defended in a court than defining the actual events. Frankly it is that which is really bloody sad.

  42. Did you see Closeup last night ? ( see TVNZ on demand ) ” Falsely accused Jetstar Employee found not guilty ” ” Premadonna Radio Journalists career ended ”
    As a vocal athiest Brian, you really must admit, that the Random Sequence Of Events really does have a sense of humour .

    BE: indeed. However, technically he wasn’t a Jetstar employee. I have no brief for Mr Stables, but I found the judge’s verdict distinctly strange. Removing Stables would have been reasonable. He was being an idiot. But the succession of blows, including when Stables was on the ground, didn’t look like “self defence” to me.

  43. I think it’s a bit like school bullying , people love it when the big soft teddy bear gives the asshole a hiding. They seemed trapped behind the counter when Stables started lunging across at them and he seemed to kick at the big guys legs from the ground when he tried to walk away.
    It will be interesting to see the verdict in the second prosecution. Stables may be found guilty of assault ?

  44. What a millquetoast attitude! Why should Devlin, or anyone else have to exercise, “self-discipline” as determined by a control-freak?!

    Ennobling. But, display that attitude on board any aircraft over U.S-controlled airspace, and you savour the precursor of a couple of F-15s being scrambled into the air, before the U.S. Marshalls storm on board. The percussive aftershock from a cough, is enough to fire the trigger when it comes to on-board “misbehaviour” on American planes; such is the level of hyper-sensitivities of their cabin crew.

    Re today’s Herald: Staple’s version of what triggered the brawl, was totally different to that of the Jetstar check-in worker. The court has found in favour of the Jetstar worker and has discredited Staples’ account. With the ‘Learned Judge’ believing that Staples had called the worker a “black motherf*****” , this DJs’ radio future is now left to smoulder on the funeral pyre. On a reduced scale, this could have been the case with Devlin and the stewardess. We just can’t be sure of what happened.

    That aside: What is it with these radio jocks and their poor attitude towards airline personnel when it comes to flying? It is very poor.

    The problem with Devlin and Staples, is it that within the confines of their respective radio stations’ studios, they see themselves as masters of their own universe? Remember, their primary point of interface is with a microphone and a switch; it’s not actually their listeners. They are in complete control of not only the tenor and rhythm of any dialogue, but also the duration of the conversations. They, at any time, can cut the callers off by just hanging up. You can only guess that they have become subsumed by a sense of self-regard within the confines of a cloistered booth, that they carry this attitude out into the wider world. And we, now, bear witness to these manifestations by the imperious manner in which they feel give them the “right” to talk down to airline staff as if they are miscreants; when it takes their fancy. And it is Ugly, Intimidating and Demeaning, to these service people. Devlin and Staples don’t so much flaunt their wanton conceits as: inflict.

    In Devlin’s case, you have to ask the question: What was so different to the manner he went about his “grumblings” that set himself apart from his fellow passengers’ grumblings of irritation and frustration? The stewardess made a beeline straight for him? Hardly.

    Everyone has the right to express an opinion without feeling “intimidated”. But that so-called “right”, varies, from when both feet are planted on the ground to when your ass is 30,000ft up in the air.

    BE: “On a reduced scale, this could have been the case with Devlin and the stewardess. We just can’t be sure of what happened.”

    No, but we can be pretty sure. And I am.

    “In Devlin’s case, you have to ask the question: What was so different to the manner he went about his “grumblings” that set himself apart from his fellow passengers’ grumblings of irritation and frustration? The stewardess made a beeline straight for him? Hardly.”

    Set your preconceptions and prejudices aside and re-read the post dispassionately.

  45. “What is it with these radio jocks and their poor attitude towards airline personnel when it comes to flying? It is very poor”
    ” bear witness to these manifestations by the imperious manner in which they feel give them the “right” to talk down to airline staff as if they are miscreants; when it takes their fancy.”

    Merv, I have seen the exact same attitude exhibited by other groups many times:
    Business Men – what is it with these men in their suits I ask.
    Designers – what is it with these people who wear sunglasses inside I ask.
    Journalists – what is it with these overweight chaps in poorly fitting suits I ask.
    Richlisters: – what is it with these women who carry small dogs everywhere I ask.

    generalisations abound.

  46. Merv – you make the point “They are in complete control of not only the tenor and rhythm of any dialogue, but also the duration of the conversations”
    Are you are assuming they are Talkback hosts?
    I dont listen to Stables but Devlin hasnt done talkback for many years, he has a Sunday sports segment on Radiolive and he reads the sports news at other times. I hardly think that puts him in the realm of “master of his universe.”
    and “Cloisted booth” ???

  47. Jetstar = Get scarred.

  48. New Zealand must in financial shit when these well known bods fly with( $69 Wellington – Auckland ) Australian budget airlines.

  49. BE: “Set your preconceptions and prejudices aside and re-read the post dispassionately”.

    I hold neither of those. I read your post, the first time; and I complimented upon it. But everything that you’ve said — and the conclusions you’ve reached — are all predicated on the witnesses’ accounts of whom Devlin were chatting with; the one exception, was the unnamed businessman.

    I’m saying that it could be, that Devlin in his testy exchanges with the stewardess made an off-the-cuff remark, such as “Whatever!”,”Get a life”, “I’ll have your job” etc., etc.
    I’m not saying that he did — but a remark like that, might have gone unnoticed by the witnesses.

    And if he had made a remark along those lines, that would be sufficient enough reason to have him removed from the aircraft. In this situation, those remarks have the impact of not only being lost in translation but also becoming a distended moment in time for the stewardess. She may have been alarmed enough to feel that the situation was deteriorating and that on-board safety was being compromised. Her advising the pilot of an unruly and disrespectful passenger, and the pilot’s decision to call the police — is a surgical way of resolving the unpleasantness by offloading Devlin. I mean, the stewardess can’t be certain that Devlin wasn’t wound up like a clock spring, ready to ‘boing’.

    I’m inclined to believe, the stewardess felt that she was dealing with a passenger who was becoming increasingly irrational and that she did not want to risk a complete meltdown by telling him that he would have to leave the aircraft. Also, I don’t believe, that neither the pilot nor the stewardess ever intended Devlin to be charged. Calling the police to remove a passenger, who is causing grief, is the best for all concerned; it defuses the volatility in an instant.

    Following on from the car bonnet episode, Devlin really does need to shed a bit of his self-regard and gain a bit more self-awareness as to how he conducts himself in public. He’s not a kid; he’s a 47-year-old(?) adult.

    And as the French judge, presiding over the trial of the sacked Dior fashion designer John Galliano, has remarked: “Famous people need to be “extra cautious and respectful” when it comes to behaving in public. Something, that has yet to register with Devlin.

  50. Interesting read but what’s up with ‘Australian rugby great” and “South African rugby legend “??????

  51. Assuming the facts as laid out by Brian are correct, the reason Devlin gets no sympathy is because he acts like a plonker. If you rely on the public and a manufactured image of celebrity to make a living then the hard part of that bargain is you will be judged harshly if the wider public think you are a dick.

    With everyone on that plane, it is only Martin who creates a problem. I can just see the smart arse, condescending approach he would have taken to the hostess (who clearly seems to have overreacted).

    I enjoy listening to his show – but the reason I enjoy it is the smart arse, jack the lad, take the piss attitude – I don’t like him but his show is entertaining.

    Martins problem is not tall poppy syndrome, it is the self centred, self absorbed sense of entitlement he exudes from every pore. Sure, if he laid a complaint he would probably win it, but all that would do is reinforce with everybody that he really is a self centred tosser.

    If you substituted the name “Mark Ellis” in this article, I would suggest that 95% of the commenters would be on Ellis’ side.

    Devlin has made a deal with the public – he’s got downside as well as upside.

    I assume people will respond to this comment saying celebrities have the same rights as “ordinary joes”, yes of course they do. But they don’t have the right to the public’s unconditional love and respect if they generally behave like a dick.

    BE: Your comment says as much about you as it says about Devlin. It is full of ad hominem personal abuse: plonker, dick, smart arse, self-centred, self-absorbed, tosser. You also make statements about what you surmise happened on the plane: “with everyone on that plane, it is only Martin who creates a problem; I can just see the smart arse, condescending approach he would have taken to the hostess (who clearly seems to have overreacted).” Devlin did not “make trouble” on the plane, the stewardess’s over-reaction led to the ‘trouble’. And “I can just see” (= ‘imagine’) just won’t do as an argument. I’m also not aware of Devlin or anyone else having raised the “tall poppy” argument.

  52. has devlin complained publically? don’t know. Haven’t heard him.
    ellis is devlin with a smile, chubby cheeks and major athleticism.
    the athleticism and smile do inspire the worshippers though.eh?

    BE: Devlin made a formal complaint to the Herald about its coverage. I’m not aware of him having complained publicly. Tricky word that, you’d expect it to be spelt the way you’ve spelt it. Strictly speaking (or pedantically), ‘publicly’ is the correct usage, but both versions appear in the New Shorter Oxford and both are considered OK in the States.

  53. did wonder at the time. now you’ve written publicly- does look a little better. is a tricky one!

  54. “A drunk New Zealand passenger urinated in the aisle of a Jetstar aircraft – spraying one man and soaking a woman’s scarf – but was allowed to leave the flight with only a warning.”

    Brilliant – Jetstar have got their priorities spot on.

  55. What did Devlin think his antagonism would achieve ? That the stewardess would run forward and get the pilot to reverse his safety decision ?
    I hate similar twats in restaraunts who loudly berate waitresses for things out of their control.
    You can’t just change channels at 20,000ft