| 5.1°C Dublin

Witness 'was asked about Bailey sexual orientation'

GARDAI told a potential witness in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder probe they wanted to know about Ian Bailey's "sexual orientations".

The man alleged to Mr Bailey -- who is now fighting extradition to France -- that he was offered drugs and cash by gardai if he agreed to spend time with the Manchester-born freelance journalist.

The latest claim came after the Irish Independent saw a transcript of a taped interview the potential witness later gave to Mr Bailey.

"Yeah, they wanted to know what was going on . . . whether I knew anything about the sexual orientations of Ian Bailey or anything like that," he said on the tape.

The man claimed that gardai encouraged him to spend time with Mr Bailey and to report back on anything he said in pubs or at a west Cork festival.

He told Mr Bailey that one garda was very interested in whether the former journalist had said anything incriminating in relation to their probe.

"They believed I could get on to a familiar wavelength with Ian and actually communicate with him. And hopefully Ian would confess the whole (thing) to me which I found quite ridiculous," the man said.

The interview, which was recorded on May 23, 1997, has since come into the possession of both the gardai and one broadcast organisation.

Gardai have vehemently denied ever offering to provide drugs or money to the man in return for his co-operation with the investigation.

His allegations refer to events in February and March 1997, not long after Mr Bailey was arrested for the first time by gardai in west Cork.

The man subsequently tried to sell his story -- without success -- to an Irish Sunday newspaper. He has since left the country.

The potential witness also declined to make a sworn statement about his allegations to an internal garda probe in 2005.

But the taped interview could now form a key part of a Garda Ombudsman probe under way into the handling of aspects of the Ms Toscan du Plantier murder probe.

The Ombudsman has commenced an investigation after receiving a formal complaint from Mr Bailey last month.

Mr Bailey is fighting extradition to France where he is wanted by Paris magistrate Patrick Gachon for questioning and possible trial over the French mother of one's death in west Cork on December 23, 1996.

He has repeatedly protested his innocence and claimed that attempts were made to frame him for the crime.

The Supreme Court will rule on Friday on Mr Bailey's request for the High Court to re-hear the extradition order.

Irish Independent