Qantas has reportedly offered to help one of its flight attendants take legal action against rapper will.i.am if he does not remove a tweet accusing her of racial prejudice.
The Black Eyes Peas frontman published the name and photograph of a Qantas flight attendant on Twitter, alleging she “aimed her frustrations at the people of colour” during a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.
In a string of tweets, will.i.am said the flight attendant was “overly aggressive” toward him because he couldn’t hear an announcement telling him to stow his laptop for landing as he was wearing noise-cancelling headphones.
Upon landing in Sydney, the rapper alleges he was met by five police officers.
He has responded to numerous calls from followers to delete the tweet naming the flight attendant and her photograph by saying that if he had some something wrong or been rude to a fan or a journalist he would be publically named.
“This is what Twitter is for… We are supposed to call out wrongdoings so we can have a safer more compassionate world,” he said.
In his latest tweet, will.i.am said the flight attendant should be aware of noise-cancelling headphones and reiterated his stance that there was no need to get police involved.
We live in 2019 & technology is advancing…they have WiFi is certain planes & noise canceling is becoming a standard…people who serve the paying public need to know that passengers have on devices that block out outside sound…sending the POLICE after them is a bit much 🤷🏿♂️ https://t.co/CZHJaMFLUE
— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 18, 2019
A Qantas spokesperson told Travel Weekly that the airline plans to back the flight attendant should she choose to take the matter further.
“Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” the spokesman said.
Bruce McClintock, a lawyer known for recently representing Geoffrey Rush told the Sydney Morning Herald the flight attendant has a “very good” defamation claim that could land her a “substantial” payout.
“Absolutely no question about it – it’s defamatory. The tweet is a publication and its effect is damaging to the person it’s said about,” McClintock said.
“If it were not true (that the flight attendant acted in a racist way), the flight attendant would have a very good claim.”