Shatter defends handling of Bailey extradition case


MINISTER FOR Justice Alan Shatter has moved to defend his and the Government’s handling of the Ian Bailey extradition case in recent months.

He has released a statement denying elements of a Sunday newspaper story that claimed the Government tried to conceal a report from the DPP’s office in which serious concerns about the Garda Síochána’s handling of the Bailey case were outlined.

An article in The Sunday Business Post said Attorney General Máire Whelan only agreed to release the report on condition that some of its content “should not be put into the public domain”.

Mr Shatter said that when the existence of the sensitive report – written by a solicitor working under former DPP Eamon Barnes – was brought to his attention in recent months, both he and the Attorney General immediately made arrangements to furnish it to Mr Bailey’s legal team.

He said the report was also furnished to all relevant parties participating in the Supreme Court appeal by Mr Bailey; in which he sought to stop his extradition to France for questioning in relation to the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. He said the third parties mentioned in the report could be greatly adversely affected if the findings about them became public. These parties had not been given an opportunity to defend themselves and it was for this reason that the condition of partial confidentiality was placed on the release of the report.

“It did not, of course, preclude the use of the material in court proceedings by legal representatives of Mr Bailey,” Mr Shatter said.

Solicitor Frank Buttimer, who represents Mr Bailey, yesterday said that when in recent weeks he received a note generated by Mr Barnes last October effectively flagging the existence of the larger report, he “couldn’t believe what I was reading”.

“That was followed two days later by the receipt of a 44-page devastation of the state of the Garda evidence against Mr Bailey. Again, I just couldn’t believe it.”

He had received both from the office of Mr Shatter despite having no legal entitlement to them.

He said the French were continuing in their efforts to get information from the Garda on the murder investigation, with a District Court hearing scheduled for Dublin tomorrow as part of that process. Mr Buttimer believed the French wanted to put Mr Bailey on trial in France in his absence and if he were convicted they would try again to extradite him.

The contentious report, written when Mr Barnes was DPP, is effectively an appraisal of the Garda’s investigation of Toscan du Plantier’s murder in west Cork in 1996.

It is very critical of members of the Garda, saying the investigation was flawed and fixated from the beginning on nominating Mr Bailey as the chief suspect.

It said some gardaí tried to have political pressure applied on the DPP to press charges against Mr Bailey, despite the DPP having already decided there was no grounds for such charges.

The report did not emerge from the office of the DPP until late last year, by which time the French authorities had gone to the High Court in Dublin seeking, and being granted, Mr Bailey’s extradition to France. However, the report was furnished in time for Mr Bailey’s legal team to use it in its appeal to the Supreme Court. That appeal was upheld last week.

Mr Bailey has lodged a complaint with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission about the matters in the DPP report. He has also begun a civil action against the State.