Bailey seeks end to further aid to French inquiry

Help provided to French investigators into murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier

 Ian Bailey (right) and his  solicitor Frank Buttimer. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Ian Bailey (right) and his solicitor Frank Buttimer. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh


Southern Correspondent

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and interim Garda Commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan may face further legal action by former journalist Ian Bailey if they continue to provide assistance to a French investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Mr Bailey’s solicitor, Frank Buttimer, has confirmed he has written on Mr Bailey’s behalf to both Mr Shatter and Ms O’Sullivan, requesting that the Irish authorities desist from providing assistance to an investigation by a French magistrate, Judge Patrick Gachon.

“I can confirm that because of concerns which Mr Bailey has expressed in relation to the matter of the ongoing French investigation, I’ve been instructed by him to convey those concerns to the Minister and the Garda Commissioner, which I have now done,” Mr Buttimer said.

“I await the Minister’s reply but I can confirm that in my letter, I indicated what Mr Bailey’s intentions are, in the event of us failing to receive an appropriate response to our concerns and an end to this co-operation with the French, which is based on a flawed Garda investigation.”

Mutual Assistance Act
Mr Buttimer said he had indicated that Mr Bailey would take whatever steps were necessary if Mr Shatter failed to terminate the assistance allowed for under the Mutual Assistance Act 2008, but he declined to specify what they might involve.

However legal sources have told The Irish Times that it would be open to Mr Bailey to go to the High Court and seek either a judicial review or an injunction against the Minister for Justice to prevent the Irish authorities assisting the French investigation.

Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardaí investigating the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home near Toormore outside Schull in west Cork in December 1996, but he was never charged.

Seven years ago, Ms Toscan du Plantier’s parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol and a campaign group, the Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, lobbied the French authorities to carry out their own investigation into the killing.

Under French law, French authorities can investigate crimes against French citizens outside of France. Judge Gachon and a colleague, Judge Nathalie Dutartre, came to Ireland in June 2009, while French investigators interviewed some 30 witnesses here in 2011.

The French investigation team is due to return next month to reinterview some witnesses as well as others who were not available in October 2011.

Four years ago, in April 2010, the French authorities issued a European arrest warrant for Mr Bailey’s extradition to France over the murder.

Extradition appealed
The High Court granted the extradition in March 2011, but Mr Bailey won a Supreme Court appeal in March 2012 against his extradition.

Mr Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas are taking a High Court civil action against the State for damages for wrongful arrest. Mr Buttimer has dismissed the French investigation as “a charade” and said the continued existence of the European arrest warrant has made Mr Bailey a prisoner in Ireland.