Ian Bailey has defended his appearance in Sky’s five-part series on the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and batted away suggestions he was trying to remain in the news.
Bailey appeared in Murder at the Cottage, Jim Sheridan’s series and also featured in Netflix’s three-part series on the 1996 murder in Schull, West Cork.
The documentaries have shed an international spotlight on a case that has been in the public consciousness since 1996 in Ireland and France, but Ian insisted he felt it was the right thing to do.
He said the question was not why would he get involved with the documentaries and podcasts on the case, but rather “why wouldn’t he?”.
“I’m an innocent person that’s been accused of a crime I had nothing to do with. What you do in that situation is you will do everything you could to try and establish your innocence.
“Jim Sheridan approached me, I trusted Jim. I trusted Donal McIntyre, I trusted the podcasters as well and that trust has never been broken.
“Why wouldn’t an innocent person want to be involved in the process that might possibly lead to his exoneration,” Bailey said while speaking with Niall Boylan on Classic Hits Radio.
He also said he was just paid “legitimate expenses” from Sky to appear in the documentary while he got “not a penny” from Netflix.
“All I got from Netflix was grief,” Bailey said, adding that a decision on whether or not to take Netflix to court for airing interviews with him he had asked to be removed is for his legal team at a point in the future.
He said he only agreed to give the interview as he was told it would be used as a ‘tease’ for a pitch to Netflix, but subsequently found out it was in the series itself.
Bailey says he did not watch the Netflix documentary but was “made aware of certain sequences” within it. He has previously labelled the Netflix production a piece of “demonising propaganda”.
He also says he has watched just the first two episodes of the ‘Jim doc’, which is Sky’s Murder at the Cottage.
The documentaries have been trending on Netflix and gained huge attention, leading to calls for a cold case review, with Gardaí examining new info generated as a result of the recent media focus on the case.
Bailey said he was thrilled to hear that after writing to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, that a cold case review of the murder case may be conducted.
“It gladdened my sad heart to hear that,” Bailey said.
Bailey fielded many questions in the hour-long interview and reiterated his claim that before the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996, he did not know the French lady and never met her.
A neighbour of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, Alfie Lyons, claimed that he may have introduced her to Bailey, conflicting with Ian’s version of events.
“I believe he did say that but that’s an untruth, it’s not the facts,” Bailey said.
Bailey also refuted the claims that he was in Schull on the morning Sophie’s body was discovered telling people he had to cover a murder.
Claims in the Netflix documentary say that Bailey had indicated to people in Schull he had knowledge of the murder before he received a phone call from the Irish Examiner notifying him of the murder and asking him to go to the scene to report on it.
He said the claims are “total nonsense”.
Bailey says he was contacted by the Irish Examiner at approximately 1:40pm to cover the murder - which he claims was when he first heard of it - while in the documentary it is claimed he was telling people about the case at approximately 12pm in Schull.
When French and Irish journalists descended on the scene as news of Sophie’s death garnered national and international headlines, they contacted Bailey to get the lowdown on the case.
Two journalists claimed that Bailey seemed to have a lot of knowledge of the details in the case. He said this was because he had “local knowledge and was a pretty good operator back in the day”.
Bailey said after reporting on the case for a while, people started to say to him, “they’re saying it’s you”.
He said his first direct knowledge that he was implicated in the crime was when Sunday Tribune News Editor Helen Callanan informed him that people were speculating he was involved.
Bailey then told Ms Callanan that “he did it to resurrect his career”, which he claims was dark humour.
Ms Callanan did not regard the statement as humour and reported it to Gardaí.
Bailey said he initially treated the accusations towards him lightly, “not knowing what I was going to be subjected to”.
He was first arrested in connection with Ms Plantier’s murder on February 10, 1997, and he claimed the arresting Garda “seemed to take quite a lot of pleasure” in handcuffing him.
Bailey was released without charge following questioning and a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The DPP came to the conclusion that there was not enough evidence to charge Bailey with the murder.
Bailey admitted that his conviction for assault on his partner, Jules Thomas, did not help his public image in relation to the connection with Sophie’s murder.
He said the assault occurred as a result of “abuse of alcohol” and that it was to “my eternal shame” that it occurred. He said he did not consider himself a violent person.
One of the central characters of both documentaries is Marie Farrell, whose testimony first implicated Ian Bailey in the crime before she retracted the statements and claimed Gardaí urged her to name Bailey as the person spotted watching Ms du Plantier outside her shop before she was murdered.
“Marie Farrell, I am very, very sorry for her. She is one of the many victims of the case, there have been many victims of this apart from Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Jules, myself, Marie Farrell,” Bailey said.
Ms Farrell is now once again involved as it is her assertion that she can identify a man in a black coat seen outside her premises in the days before Sophie’s murder in December 1996.
The information was passed to Gardaí by Jim Sheridan, but did not feature in his documentary.
Bailey says apart from a few people in the “he did it” camp, he has “received nothing but 100pc support from the people of West Cork”.
“There were a number of people who gathered together, a number of them made false statements, but the majority of the people here have been brilliant in their support,” Bailey said.
Bailey admitted it was irresponsible of him to use satire when referring to his own involvement in the case. He allegedly confessed to the crime to a number of people, but he has claimed that these were instances of sarcasm, irony and satire.
“A friend of mine said to me, the one thing you need to understand about Irish people is they don’t do irony or satire. But, that’s my fault,” Bailey admitted.
He also denied the assertion that he was trying to remain in the public eye. “I am absolutely not trying to stay in the news, I just want to get on with my life”.
Asked if he ever believes that he will be completely vindicated and proven an innocent man, Bailey said: “well, if my prayers are answered, yes”, but Bailey admitted: “I don’t know that they will find out who did this”.