Wednesday 17 October 2018

Bailey faces costs bill of up to €5m after losing appeal

Ian Bailey: lost his appeal. Picture: Collins
Ian Bailey: lost his appeal. Picture: Collins
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

British freelance journalist Ian Bailey faces legal costs of up to €5m for his failed action for damages over the investigation into the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Manchester-born Bailey (60) lost his appeal over orders requiring him to pay the substantial legal costs arising from his failed High Court action over the conduct of gardaí during the investigation into the killing of the French mother-of-one.

Legal costs arising from the action are estimated at between €2m and €5m - and the Court of Appeal yesterday ruled against Mr Bailey in his argument that given the exceptional circumstances of the case, he should not be liable for costs.

Mr Bailey was unavailable for comment on the matter. However, sources close to him said he was "disappointed but not surprised" by the ruling.

Mr Bailey, a law graduate from University College Cork, was twice arrested and questioned by gardaí, in 1997 and 1998, over the death of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

She was found battered to death on December 23, 1996, near her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork.

He was released without charge by gardaí on both occasions. The journalist, who has repeatedly protested his innocence, has maintained that attempts were made to frame him for the crime.

In 2003, he sued eight Irish and British newspapers for defamation arising from their coverage of the case.

Mr Bailey successfully fought a bid in 2012 by the French authorities to have him extradited under a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for questioning over the death of Ms Toscan du Plantier following a lengthy Paris-led investigation into the killing.

The French probe was launched after the Irish authorities admitted there was little likelihood of a prosecution in this jurisdiction.

Mr Bailey has predicted that the French will attempt to try him in absentia for the killing.

A fresh EAW is now in place - and last February, Mr Bailey lost a bid in the French courts to have the Paris prosecution halted.

He is set to appeal that decision to a higher French court.

Yesterday, the Court of Appeal (COA) delivered its costs ruling following its judgment last month overturning its earlier decision to permit a retrial of one part of Mr Bailey's action.

The COA overturned the retrial decision after accepting arguments by the State its decision was based on a misinterpretation by it of certain comments made by the High Court judge who presided over the damages action.

A High Court jury had in November 2015, after a 64-day hearing, rejected Mr Bailey's claim that three gardaí had conspired to frame him for the murder and the effect of last month's COA judgment was he lost his entire appeal over the dismissal of his case.

The matter returned to the appeal court yesterday to address liability for costs in the High Court and in the COA.

The State said that it was entitled to its costs up to the date of the COA original judgment of July 26, 2017, which had dismissed Mr Bailey's appeal on all grounds except the one which itself was dismissed last month.

The State did not seek its costs concerning the hearing of its successful application to amend the COA July 2017 judgment.

Martin Giblin SC, for Mr Bailey, argued the "highly unusual" circumstances of the case were grounds for the COA to depart from the normal rule that costs go to the winning party.

Those included the State's decision to apply on day 62 of the 64-day High Court case to have most of Mr Bailey's claims dismissed as out of time, with the effect that only a conspiracy claim was addressed by the jury.

Irish Independent

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