Monday 22 January 2018

Bailey calls for full tribunal into Sophie probe

Journalist still fighting extradition to France for murder trial

Ian Bailey (pictured) who was the main suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier Photo: Courts Collins
Ian Bailey (pictured) who was the main suspect in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier Photo: Courts Collins
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Ian Bailey has called for a full tribunal into the Garda's investigation of the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier after the Fennelly Commission found they contemplated altering statements.

Mr Justice Fennelly's report, published last week, found no evidence that gardai interfered with witness statements in the investigation of the French woman's murder. However, he did find that they contemplated it.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier Photo: Handout/PA Wire
Sophie Toscan du Plantier Photo: Handout/PA Wire

The report also found that gardai had passed on inappropriate and confidential information about the case to a journalist and members of the public.

Ian Bailey was the main suspect for the murder of the film producer, who was beaten to death outside her home in Schull in 1996. He has always maintained his innocence.

In his first interview since the Fennelly report was published, Ian Bailey said: "This is the first vindication that I have received in 20 years of protesting my innocence and battling on."

He said he was "disappointed" that the Fennelly Commission did not examine the Garda investigation of the murder, even though its terms of reference allowed it to consider, not only what was on the Bandon tapes but any other matters of unlawful or improper behaviour.

"I firmly believe that following the Fennelly Commission's findings, there should now be a full tribunal of investigation and inquiry into the whole affair and the roles played by members of An Garda Siochana," he said.

Bailey lost a legal action against the State alleging he was wrongfully arrested and that gardai attempted to frame him.

He has appealed that case and is separately also fighting his pending extradition to France.

The French authorities want Ian Bailey to stand trial in France for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, even though the Irish authorities found no evidence to prosecute him for the crime.

His extradition was approved by the High Court last month. He was arrested immediately after the court case but was released on bail.

Ian Bailey said yesterday: "At present, my life has been made all the more difficult as a result of my second arrest under a European arrest warrant, which resulted from the forwarding of the Garda file, five times rejected by the Director of Public Prosecutions, to the French authorities.

"I am now left to once again fight my possible extradition to France, which leaves myself and my partner, Jules, living in a constant state of anxiety and fear."

The former journalist plans to publish his first book of poetry next week through a crowd-funding campaign.

His legal action against the Garda and the State alleging his wrongful arrest sparked the discovery that non-emergency calls into Garda stations were being routinely recorded.

Tapes of gardai discussing the du Plantier case were discovered when gardai at Bandon Garda Station were asked to provide records on the case to satisfy a discovery order.

The Fennelly Commission was set up to investigate the taping of calls in Garda stations generally as well as the taping of calls in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation.

Mr Justice Fennelly identified 297 calls but examined 131 for unlawful conduct.

"In the recorded telephone calls available to the Commission, there are two instances where members of An Garda Siochana appeared willing to contemplate allowing or encouraging certain persons to make false allegations or to give false evidence," the report found.

The Commission found it "disturbing" that gardai would discuss slanting or falsifying evidence.

But it found no evidence of illegal behaviour. It found no evidence that any garda had offered to pay for an incriminating statement against Ian Bailey.

The Fennelly report said it was of "serious concern"  that gardai "were prepared to contemplate altering, modifying or suppressing evidence that did not assist them in furthering their belief that Mr Bailey murdered Madame Toscan du Plantier." 

It also found improper conduct by gardai in relation to their handling of an alleged assault.

Sunday Independent

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