Bailey solicitor calls for DPP’s office to be included in Garda inquiry
Terms should be extended to look at role of other State agencies in du Plantier case - Buttimer
Frank Buttimer said while Ian Bailey believes the commission of inquiry should look closely at Garda handling of the case, it should also look at the role of other state agencies Collins
A lawyer acting for former journalist Ian Bailey has urged the government to extend the terms of inquiry set up into Garda phone recordings to look at the role of the DPP, the Department of Justice and the Attorney General in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier case.
Frank Buttimer said he welcomed the decision to include the Garda handling of the Toscan du Plantier murder investigation in the Commission of Inquiry to be chaired by former Supreme Court judge Mr Justice Niall Fennelly.
However, Mr Buttimer said while Mr Bailey believed the commission of inquiry should look closely at Garda handling of the case, it should also examine at the role of other State agencies such as the DPP’s office, the Department of Justice and the office of the Attorney General.
“We have always maintained that there were issues here in the Garda investigation, such as the handling of witnesses Marie Farrell and Martin Graham, which gave rise for concern and these were known as far back as the 1990s by the DPP and the Department of Justice.
“There’s also the issue of three senior gardaí having a meeting with the State Solicitor for West Cork, Malachy Boohig and seeking to influence the DPP in securing a decision to prosecute Mr Bailey and this was also known by people in the DPP’s office.
“We want to know why were these sleeping dogs let lie by the DPP’s office, the Department of Justice and why did the Department of Justice knowing all this, allow the French state come here to seek to remove Mr Bailey from the jurisdiction in what we believe was an unlawful action.”
Mr Buttimer told The Irish Times these were “all legitimate concerns” which he believed should be examined by Mr Justice Fennelly but much would depend on how the former Supreme Court judge interpreted the term “responsible authorities” as set out in the terms of reference.
Mr Buttimer described Mr Justice Fennelly as “an eminent jurist” but pointed out that the amount of material that he would have to look at in the Ms Toscan du Plantier murder investigation alone was vast and he had to look at not just that but the broader issue of Garda recording of calls nationally.
“Mr Bailey’s case has vast potential for material to be looked it and overall Mr Justice Fennelly has one enormous task on his hands because this is a very, very broad ranging inquiry but it does allow for a modular approach and he can issue interim reports on discrete matters of interest to others.”
Mr Justice Fennelly also has the power to seek an extension of time for the completion of the inquiry, noted Mr Buttimer.
The solicitor added that he didn’t believe Mr Justice Fennelly’s module on the du Plantier investigation would affect Mr Bailey’s own civil action for damages against the State.
“Mr Justice Fennelly will have the power to call witness - it’s not just a paper review - which is very welcome but it’s not a tribunal so those hearings will be heard in private and so won’t affect Mr Bailey’s civil action which is already well advanced in terms of discovery,” he said.