independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Garda Commissioner trying to block release of thousands of documents from Ian Bailey investigation

Ian Bailey at the High Court in Dublin yesterday
Ian Bailey

THE FRENCH authorities are to demand access to “unexpected” new telephone traffic from the Irish authorities as part of their probe into the Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) killing.

However, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan is now seeking to prevent access to thousands of pages of Garda notes and reports in 128 different files on the murder and its aftermath in a civil action against the State.

The High Court is now to rule on an application from the Garda Commissioner for several key internal reports to be withheld from Manchester-born freelance journalist Ian Bailey (56) and his legal team.

Speaking about this development, Bailey's solicitor Frank Buttimer told RTE Radio One this afternoon: "The McAndrew report is the result of an inquiry that was set up the Garda Commissioner in 2005 concerning complaints which were then made in that year by Ian Bailey, who alleged, as a result of information which had come into his possession by then, that there was a concerted effort to target him consciously and deliberately and in a deceitful fashion as the person who has committed the murder, being the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

"I believe that in terms of the importance of the administration of justice and in terms of the divisions of responsibility within various arms of government and in the way justice is administered in this country, this case goes to the root of potential misbehaviour, potential scandal.

"All I can say is that we will persist with regard to Mr Bailey’s action. We’re hoping to get some answers in the civil litigation he has taken but what amazes me is the silence which is emanating from various quarters, various people in positions of power with regard to the matter.

"I cannot for the life of me understand how this case hasn’t received more attention and has not caused more concern that it should have."

Mr Bailey is suing the State for wrongful arrest and wants the High Court to order the State to release all material relevant to the case to his legal team.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested by Gardai for questioning in relation to the death of Ms du Plantier at her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork.

She was found battered to death by a laneway shortly after 9am on December 23 1996.

Mr Bailey was released without charge on both occasions in 1997 and 1998 – and later claimed in court that attempts were made to frame him for the crime.

He has consistently protested his innocence and claimed his life in west Cork was made "a nightmare" by the actions of some State officials.

The Supreme Court refused to extradite him to France in March 2012 though the Paris authorities have vowed to press ahead with their own independent investigation.

The Irish Independent understands that the new material uncovered involves telephone traffic made by specific individuals to numbers in use at the time by Mr Bailey, his friends and people he was living with.

However, the Garda Commissioner now also wants to prevent key reports on the case from being released.

These reports, and related documents, amount to thousands of pages of material.

The two most critical documents include an internal Garda probe conducted following allegations of duress by one case witness in 2005.

That report was conducted by Assistant Commissioner Ray McAndrew and has never been published.

Its findings have also remained secret.

A second report is by Chief Supt Tom Hayes and relates to issues arising in relation to the case over the past five years.

The Commissioner wants access to these reports to be restricted in the ongoing civil action.

The 17th anniversary of Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s death occurs on December 23 next.

No-one has ever been charged in relation to her killing.

A French-based probe into the murder has been ongoing for the past five years under Paris Magistrate Patrick Gachon.

 

Ralph Riegel and Dearbhail McDonald

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