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Sophie's family hit out at tapesgate as Bailey given details of 11 calls

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Probe: Ian Bailey, pictured with partner Jules Thomas, is suing for wrongful arrest. Photo: CourtPix

Probe: Ian Bailey, pictured with partner Jules Thomas, is suing for wrongful arrest. Photo: CourtPix

Probe: Ian Bailey, pictured with partner Jules Thomas, is suing for wrongful arrest. Photo: CourtPix

THE family of Sophie Toscan du Plantier have said they don't want the garda recordings controversy to impact on any investigation into her death.

Her uncle Jean Pierre Gazeau said the family were aware of the tapes – which have caused an unprecedented crisis in the justice system – but said: "For us, the bigger problem is the complete investigation into Sophie's murder."

Mr Gazeau was speaking as it emerged that Ian Bailey has received transcripts of 11 recorded garda phone conversations as part of his legal action against the State.

Mr Bailey was investigated by gardai probing the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier in West Cork in 1996. Mr Bailey is suing the State for wrongful arrest.

Discovery

As part of the discovery process in the case, he has received 16,000 documents in 12 boxes including 63 pages of phone transcripts detailing the 11 recorded phone calls which lasted a total of 53 minutes.

Mr Gazeau said the family believe the latest revelations should not impact upon the investigation to find Sophie's killer and bring them to justice.

He added the tapes are "only a problem between the gardai and the Irish government".

The family's lawyer Alain Spilliart said that Sophie's parents Georges and Marguerite Bouniol have been surprised by the controversy.

He said the recordings, including calls made by so-called "star witness" Marie Farrell to Bandon Garda Station, should be kept and could prove useful to an investigation being carried out by French judge Patrick Gachon.

Mr Spilliart said: "It would be a disaster to destroy such material which could potentially be crucial evidence in any trial we would have here in France."

The Irish Times also reported that Attorney General Marie Whelan told the Gardai not to destroy the tapes, after she learned that the Garda Commissioner's office was seeking permission from the Data Protection Commissioner to delete their archive.

According to the report Ms Whelan was not aware of the widespread practice of recording calls in Garda stations as far back as November last year.

Instead she had received a memo making a routine request for a nominee to provide legal counsel in relation to disclosure in the Ian Bailey case.

It was the discovery of the phone calls in the Bailey case that alerted the former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to report the issue, which has sparked a national crisis, to the Attorney General and to the Justice Minister.

Eight of the phone calls allegedly detail offers of bribery by a garda to a key witness.

The recordings are between a garda and ex-soldier Martin Graham, who claimed he was bribed with drugs and cash by gardai to befriend Ian Bailey.

Mr Bailey was arrested twice without charge during the murder investigation.

These eight calls are on top of three others that were recorded between gardai and Ms Farrell.

She implicated Ian Bailey in the murder, but then she later said that her statements were fabricated. The State has also provided Ian Bailey with extracts of a report into Ms Farrell's evidence.

The revelation that there are tapes relating to Martin Graham is the latest twist in the case, which has been dogged with controversy since the French filmmaker was killed on December 23, 1996.

 


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