Monday 20 November 2017

French still want access to Bailey's diaries after court ruling

Ralph Riegel and Dearbhail McDonald

THE French authorities are to ignore Ian Bailey's Supreme Court extradition victory and seek a District Court order next week to obtain copies of his personal diaries.

Lawyers acting for Paris-based Magistrate Patrick Gachon are to seek approval from Dublin District Court for the French authorities to get copies of Mr Bailey's personal diaries from the gardai.

The court action could take place as early as Tuesday.

The move is seen as confirmation that the French intend to press ahead with the case against Mr Bailey despite the unanimous refusal of a five-judge Supreme Court panel to extradite the 54-year-old to Paris in connection with the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) 16 years ago.

Ms Du Plantier's body was discovered at 10am on December 23, 1996, at the foot of a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork. She had been battered to death.

Mr Bailey has consistently denied any involvement in the crime -- and told the Irish Independent that the past 15 years had been "absolute hell".

Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, said that the French determination to press ahead with the action despite all the evidence of Mr Bailey's innocence was "an absolute farce".

"They were always going to do this to Ian Bailey -- the whole thing is a farce," he said.

But the Sophie Toscan du Plantier Truth Association (STDPTA) -- a lobby group set up to support her family's campaign for justice -- launched a scathing attack on the Supreme Court ruling. "The family and the STDPTA learnt with surprise, disconcerting disappointment and anger the decision of the Irish Supreme Court to refuse the application made by the French judiciary to extradite Ian Bailey," spokesman Jean Antoine Bloc said.

"The association strongly disapproves of a decision that once again emphasises form over substance and blocks the emergence of truth in this heinous crime. The association (also) deplores the unusual and excessive time taken by the Irish justice (system) to respond to the European Arrest Warrant issued two years ago by Judge Gachon."

The STDPTA said the past 15 years had been marked by "delays and contradictions" by the Irish justice system -- and said Sophie's family had endured "brutal injustice and pressure".

"Our fight for truth and justice continues," Mr Bloc said.

Seized

Mr Bailey's original diaries -- seized by gardai when he was arrested in 1997 and 1998 -- were returned to him three years ago on foot of legal action taken under the Police Property Act.

That action was taken by Mr Bailey on the basis the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) indicated he had no case to answer in this jurisdiction.

The diaries -- and their dramatic revelations about Mr Bailey's personal life -- formed a key part of the Circuit Civil Court libel action taken by the former freelance journalist against eight Irish and British newspapers in December 2003. The only way the French can now get access to the original diaries is with Mr Bailey's permission.

However, gardai were allowed by the District Court to retain copies of Mr Bailey's diaries -- and the French legal action is aimed at facilitating the release by gardai of those copies to Magistrate Gachon's team.

Magistrate Gachon -- who launched a French probe into the mother of one's killing almost four years ago -- has already been granted full access to the garda murder file and evidential material.

Mr Bailey and his partner, Jules Thomas, are now taking a High Court action against the State for wrongful arrest. A Garda Ombudsman Commission probe is also under way into the handling of the du Plantier investigation following a complaint by Mr Bailey.

Irish Independent

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