Ian Bailey is to write his first ever personal account of the events leading up to his arrest by gardaí investigating the Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) murder – and said it will likely result in him writing an autobiography.
Mr Bailey, who has consistently protested his innocence over the 1996 killing of the French film executive, revealed he is to write a series of auto biographical articles for Ireland’s Big Issue magazine.
The first in the series of articles is scheduled to appear in the magazine tomorrow.
It represents the first time in 25 years he has written about the events before and after December 23, 1996, when the body of the French mother-of-one was discovered on a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork. She had been savagely beaten to death.
Mr Bailey was arrested by gardaí in both 1997 and 1998 but was released without charge on both occasions.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled in 2000/2001 that the Manchester-born journalist and poet had no case to answer.
Mr Bailey has consistently protested his innocence – and insisted that sinister attempts were made to frame him for the crime.
While he has written two volumes of poetry, he has never before written about his experiences after 1996. “I was approached by (Ireland’s) Big Issue about writing for them. I thought the time was right to do so and agreed,” he said.
“It will most likely be a series of four lengthy articles.
“The first will deal with my back story, growing up in England and my work as a journalist there.”
He said the second article – which may extend to 3,000 words – will deal with his decision to move to Ireland and will end with “a cliffhanger” in December 1996.
The final two articles will deal with events since December 1996 which, he said, had made his life “a living nightmare” and seen him wrongly associated with the crime.
Mr Bailey said he has been “bonfired” in various quarters over the years by wrongful association with the case.
“I have been approached numerous times over the years by publishers about writing a book on my experiences.
“I have consistently refused. I would not accept any advances because, the minute I accept an advance (payment), I find my creative spirit is dissipated.” But Mr Bailey admitted that the Ireland’s Big Issue articles could ultimately result in him agreeing to write a book about his life story.
“It may well be the first step on the road to my autobiography, yes,” he said.
Mr Bailey said he had supplied personal photographs for use with the articles – many of which have never been published before.
“I had started writing what I suppose was my autobiography a few years ago but stopped. Maybe the time is right now?”
The revelation about the articles came after French President Emmanuel Macron recently proposed a new trial in Paris if Mr Bailey agreed to travel to France.
RTÉ’s The Late Late Show is also expected to feature an interview with Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud, in its opening show of the new season.
Mr Bailey was tried in absentia by a French court in May 2019 and was convicted of Ms du Plantier’s killing.
He refused to acknowledge the hearing which he called “a show trial” and “a mockery of justice”. The Paris court sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
However, the Irish courts have on three separate occasions refused to extradite Mr Bailey to France.
Mr Bailey’s solicitor, Frank Buttimer, rejected any question of his client agreeing to travel to France or recognise any new French trial.
“Absolutely – there are no circumstances in which Mr Bailey (will travel to France),” he said. “Firstly, that (anyone) would have thought he got any kind of fair trial (in 2019) and, secondly, that if he were to go to France as what President Macron described as ‘the condemned man’ – the idea of Mr Bailey going to France to get a fair trial is nonsense. Total nonsense.”
The Cork solicitor said his client had been the subject of repeated French legal bids over the years, including three separate extradition attempts.
“It did not come as a surprise to me to see the French are continuing their pursuit of Mr Bailey which has been relentless over the years.”
Mr Macron had asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin during their Dublin meeting last week to see what more could be done for the family of Ms du Plantier who are still awaiting justice almost 25 years after her brutal murder.
“Should the person condemned agree to come to France, a new trial could be organised but so far, he has been refusing to do so,” Mr Macron said.
He said the Paris courts were considering their next step in the case after an Irish court refused to extradite Mr Bailey on foot of his Paris conviction in May 2019.
“The French court is now considering what to do next and is leaving a window, a period of time for the Irish and French courts to discuss, to decide what to do next.”
“All of that should be based on the mutual trust of our courts, that is at the heart of the European project, so that a solution can be found.”
The Taoiseach pointed out that politicians cannot interfere in the judicial process in Ireland – but described the killing as having a terrible legacy for Irish society.
* This article was amended on September 6 to clarify the name of the magazine as 'Ireland’s Big Issue’