Monday 14 October 2019

Bailey probe was flawed and prejudiced, says former DPP

Undated handout photo of Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Undated handout photo of Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Tim Healy

THE former Director of Public Prosecutions believed the garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier was "thoroughly flawed and prejudiced" against the self-confessed main suspect, Ian Bailey.

In correspondence written by former DPP Eamonn Barnes after his retirement, he said the garda action culminated in "a grossly improper attempt to achieve or even force a prosecutorial decision which accorded with that prejudice".

The damning comments emerged for the first time in the High Court yesterday as Mr Bailey won a series of court orders requiring the State to hand over a wide range of documents for his civil action.

In ordering the disclosure, Mr Justice John Hedigan said information presented about the garda investigation, now in its 16th year, was "very disturbing" and "unusual".

The material includes all correspondence relating to Mr Bailey between Mr Barnes (after his retirement) and his successors, James Hamilton and Claire Loftus; the Minister for Justice, the Attorney General and gardai.

Mr Barnes had expressed concern that senior gardai were engaged in a "persistent" and "grossly improper" attempt "to achieve or even force" a prosecution of Mr Bailey for the murder in west Cork in 1996.

Mr Bailey (56), a law graduate, has always denied any involvement.

Mr Bailey is seeking to establish the identities of gardai who allegedly attempted to ensure his prosecution with a view to possibly subpoenaing them to give evidence in his action for damages over alleged wrongful arrest and personal injuries.

He may also subpoena Mr Barnes, who sent an email in October 2011 to then DPP James Hamilton.

In the email, read in full yesterday to the court for the first time, Mr Barnes said a former state solicitor for west Cork, Malachy Boohig, told Mr Barnes in 1998 that a senior garda had asked him to ask then Justice Minister John O'Donoghue to approach the DPP with a view to securing a prosecution.

In a memo also read to the court, Mr Boohig said he had been asked to attend a case conference on the murder at Bandon garda station involving senior gardai from Cork and Dublin.

He said two senior gardai "did all the talking" and made very clear to him there was more than sufficient evidence to enable the DPP issue a direction to prosecute the chief suspect with murder.

He said there was not enough evidence but one of the gardai said he (Boohig) should use his connection to the minister, which dated back to his student days, to see if something could be done.

Mr Barnes said he was "well aware" of garda anxiety to charge Mr Bailey and that pressure had been exerted on his office not only by gardai in west Cork.

Mr Barnes said he was raising the matter now (October 2011) as media reports regarding the French investigation of the case caused him concern.

He wrote there was "apparently a real possibility" Mr Bailey may be charged in France and perhaps jailed, "presumably on the basis inter alia of evidence and conclusions provided by what I regarded at the time as having been a thoroughly flawed and prejudiced garda investigation culminating in a grossly improper attempt to achieve or even force a prosecutorial decision which accorded with that prejudice".

Martin Giblin, for Mr Bailey, said his side wanted to use these and other documents in the civil action, including a 2001 analysis by an official in the DPP's office of the murder investigation.

Irish Independent

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