Jules Thomas, the former partner of Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder suspect Ian Bailey, has claimed that a documentary series about the killing contained “glaring inaccuracies, fabrications and falsehoods” and led to her being treated as “a social pariah”.
She made the claims in an affidavit as the High Court gave her permission to serve proceedings on the makers of Sophie: A Murder in West Cork.
Ms Thomas (73) believes the widely seen three-part docuseries, which was released last year, falsely suggested she had information in relation to the identity of the French filmmaker’s killer which she had not disclosed to gardaí.
The Welsh artist is suing Netflix, director John Dower and production company Lightbox Media for injurious falsehood, infliction of emotional suffering and negligence.
In an affidavit grounding her application, Ms Thomas said: “These falsehoods affected how I was viewed and treated in my local community.
“Following the broadcast of the documentary, I became a social pariah which has negatively affected my emotional, mental and physical state.”
She also claimed the “falsehoods and their psychological effect” destroyed her creativity as an artist and damaged her financially.
“They also resulted in me being shunned as an artist and demand for my artwork, my only income source, disappeared,” she said.
“People want to feel a positive emotional attachment to art which they purchase, and no one wants to own a picture painted by a person who, it is insinuated, was involved in a heinous crime.”
In her affidavit, Ms Thomas also claimed unauthorised filming took place at her home near Schull, Co Cork. She said he never gave permission for this and regarded it as “a gross invasion of my privacy”.
She further alleged her home was portrayed as an “unkempt hovel”.
“I intend to bring an action against the makers and publishers of the documentary series to recover damages for the foreseeable harm I have suffered as a consequence of their wrongful portrayal of me and their unlawful invasion of my privacy,” she said.
Ms Thomas represented herself in court for the application, which was made on an ex parte, or one side only basis.
Permission had to be sought from the court for service of the proceedings as the defendants are all located abroad.
Mr Justice Cian Ferriter made an order granting her leave to issue a plenary summons in respect of the three defendants.
He also directed that notice of the plenary summons, once issued, be served on each of the three defendants.
“Once they are served, each of the defendants will have 42 days to enter an appearance in the proceedings,” the judge said.
Mr Justice Ferriter also said that as it was an ex parte application, the defendants had the right if they wish to bring an application to set aside the order.
“But that is a matter for the defendants. That is not a matter for today,” he said.
In an interview with the Irish Independent last week, Ms Thomas said she believed the portrayal of her was unfair.
She said she worried that people who watched the docuseries would think “I was just covering for Ian and being a silly little yes woman”.
“They were trying to portray me as an accomplice to a murder,” she said.
“People have watched it all over the world, not just in Ireland. It is just portraying a picture of me in the wrong light completely.”
In particular, Ms Thomas disputes claims by an Italian woman interviewed for the docuseries that Mr Bailey’s jacket was soaking in a large bucket in the shower at their home in the aftermath of the murder.
Ms Thomas said the allegation, made by Arianna Boarina, a friend who was visiting her daughter Jennifer for Christmas, was “completely untrue”.
Neither Netflix, Mr Dower nor Lightbox responded to queries about the lawsuit when contacted last week.
Ms Boarina, who now lives in the US, did not respond to a request for comment.
Ms Thomas said the fall-out from Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder had taken up most of her adult life and she hoped the lawsuit would help to “put a lid on it”.
She also reiterated her belief that Mr Bailey (65) was innocent, even though he had been violent towards her during their relationship.
The former couple split in April 2021 after almost 30 years together.
Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) was bludgeoned to death outside her holiday home at Toormore, near Schull, in December 1996.
Gardaí became suspicious of Mr Bailey, an English-born journalist who was covering the hunt for the killer for several newspapers.
Both he and Ms Thomas were arrested twice but were released without charge.
A report by the DPP, which was highly critical of the Garda investigation, ruled out a prosecution of Mr Bailey on the basis of insufficient evidence.
Nevertheless, Mr Bailey was found guilty of the murder by a court in France after being tried in absentia in 2019.
The High Court subsequently refused to extradite him to France, the third time an extradition bid has failed.