Call to lift suspension on French inquiries into murder case

Suspension on co-operation with Toscan du Plantier inquiry should be lifted, says lawyer

A lawyer acting for the family of murdered French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier has called on the Department of Justice to lift a suspension on co-operation with a French inquiry into the murder so French investigators can return to Ireland to interview witnesses in the case.

Alain Spilliaert, who represents Ms Toscan du Plantier's parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol, and her son, Pierre Louis Baudey, said that the failure of Ian Bailey in his High Court action for damages against the State should now pave the way for French investigators to return to Ireland.

“The decision of the Irish jury to throw out Mr Bailey’s claim for damages because of some alleged Garda conspiracy against him is proof that the Garda case against him was not corrupted and the Irish authorities should now allow co-operation to continue,” Mr Spilliaert said.

“The verdict of the jury, who heard evidence for 60 days and yet took just two hours to return a verdict, is an emphatic rejection of Mr Bailey’s claims that it was a corrupted Garda file that was sent to the French investigating magistrate. It shows the French investigation is based on a good file.”


Mr Spillaert said he also believed the Fennelly report into the recording of phone calls in Garda stations should not have any impact on further delaying Irish-French co-operation. That inquiry, he added, was into recordings in stations generally and not just the Toscan du Plantier murder investigation.

According to Mr Spilliaert, time is of the essence to ensure that justice is done and Ms Toscan du Plantier’s killer is brought to justice. Her parents are now elderly and the Irish authorities should move quickly to facilitate the anticipated renewed request from the French authorities.

It is understood that a decision by the Department of Justice facilitate a second visit by the French police was adjourned in April 2014 after Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, wrote to the Department of Justice outlining his client's objections to Irish co-operation with a French inquiry.

Mr Buttimer confirmed at the time that his client would look at all options, including taking legal action against the State if it did not terminate the assistance allowed under the Mutual Assistance Act 2000. He later said the department had confirmed a decision on assistance had been deferred.

Meanwhile, the Association for the Truth about the Murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier campaign group has urged the DPP to review the file on Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder in the light of Mr Bailey losing his action. “The association expects the case to be reviewed by the current DPP in the light of the High Court judgment and all the evidence gathered since.”

The association is also calling for an Irish criminal trial with “the self-evident purpose of removing all doubt as to the guilt or innocence of the suspect”.

Meanwhile, a case being brought by Mr Bailey's partner Jules Thomas against the Minister for Justice and the Garda Commissioner for wrongful arrest is listed for hearing at the High Court this summer.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times