Judge rules that Bailey can inspect garda tapes
JOURNALIST Ian Bailey and four of his lawyers have been given permission by a judge to inspect recordings of conversations between officers in a garda station, and other people including journalists.
Mr Bailey sought inspection of 130 recordings, and transcripts of those recordings, for a legal action due to he heard later this year.
He is claiming damages against the State over the conduct of the investigation into the 1996 murder in west Cork of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Mr Justice John Hedigan yesterday made an order allowing the inspection of the recordings at Bandon Garda Station after noting concerns from four gardai that any release of the recordings should be limited to named lawyers.
Alan Keating BL, for one of those officers, retired Det Sgt Liam Hogan, objected to any inspection being granted to Mr Bailey's side. But he said if the court considered inspection appropriate, it should be limited to identified persons and not Mr Bailey himself.
In an affidavit to the High Court, Mr Hogan said he was sent in early 1997 from Dublin, where he was attached to the Serious Crimes and Murder Squad, to assist the murder investigation and was based at Bandon until 1998. It came as a "complete shock" to him that calls made by him while in Bandon were recorded and he had never consented to such recordings, he said. Any release of the recordings or transcripts might involve a further breach of his rights, it was argued.
Michael Binchy BL, for retired Det Garda Jim Fitzgerald, retired Garda Billy Byrne and Garda Mick Coughlan, also expressed concern his clients' rights to privacy may have been breached by the fact their conversations were recorded unknown to them and without their consent.
While not formally objecting to the inspection application, Mr Binchy raised issues about alleged leaking to media and others of material connected to Mr Bailey's case.
Det Fitzgerald, in an affidavit on behalf of himself, Garda Byrne and Garda Coughlan, said he was advised there were strong legal grounds on which they could resist the application, including the right to privacy.
Their difficulty was that confidential documents had "alarmingly and quite improperly" appeared in the media.
He himself had been contacted at home by a number of journalists and was also referred to in the Dail by Clare Daly.
His concern was, if the documents were released to the media before Mr Bailey's case opened, his good name "would again be impugned" before he had the opportunity to respond "in a meaningful way".
He was happy to deal with all and any allegations made against himself at the hearing, he said. He added: "I am confident that my good name will be vindicated, but I do not want to be subjected to trial by media."