Shatter seeks advice sought on French probe into Ian Bailey
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter is getting legal advice on whether to allow the French authorities to return to Ireland to continue investigating Ian Bailey for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
The minister is understood to have taken the unusual step after new information contained on secret telephone recordings at Bandon garda station raised concerns about the original garda investigation into Mr Bailey.
The French authorities launched an investigation into Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder a number of years ago after the garda inquiry failed to find her killer.
The French had planned to return to Ireland next month to continue to interview witnesses in the case and to seek copies of the secret Bandon tapes and other new information in the case.
Ms Toscan du Plantier's parents are also planning to hold a press conference in Cork on May 17.
Under Irish law, the French can conduct investigations on Irish soil by making a formal request to the authorities here for "mutual legal assistance".
However, Mr Shatter's decision to seek legal advice before granting their request raises the prospect that they could be refused permission. That could present the Government with a diplomatic headache.
The Department of Justice confirmed yesterday that the French have already lodged a request for mutual assistance with the Central Authority for Mutual Assistance in the Department of Justice.
"The French authorities have sought further assistance in relation to the case mentioned and this request is under consideration at present," a spokesperson told the Sunday independent.
"Correspondence has been received from the legal representative of a person in relation to the provision of mutual legal assistance in this case. The French authorities were informed in early April that material had emerged in the context of a related civil case. In all the circumstances, legal advice has been sought in relation to the request."
Ms Toscan du Plantier was found beaten to death outside her holiday home in west Cork in December 1996. Mr Bailey claims he was set up for the murder of the French film producer. He was twice arrested but never charged.