Gsoc establishes just how badly Toscan du Plantier case handled
Inquiry into Bailey’s claims of conspiracy hampered by witnesses’ refusal to co-operate
Most of Ian Bailey’s evidence to Gsoc related to his treatment at the hands of the gardaí during his arrests. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
The findings of Gsoc’s 36-page report into Ian Bailey’s allegations of Garda corruption and attempts to frame him for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier were not surprising.
Much of what Gsoc investigated had already been aired publicly in either Mr Bailey’s largely unsuccessful Circuit Court libel action against eight newspaper titles in 2003 or his wholly unsuccessful High Court action against the State, in 2014 and 2015, for wrongful arrest.
That latter case had seen many of Mr Bailey’s allegations tested and ultimately found wanting. The jury found against Mr Bailey, who had relied heavily on Marie Farrell alleging that she had been coerced by gardaí into making false statements incriminating Mr Bailey.
What was critical in the case was a video recording of an interview that Ms Farrell gave Gsoc regarding alleged social welfare fraud. But when she was cross-examined about the interview Ms Farrell said she was mistaken – thus effectively undermining her own evidence to Gsoc.
The fact that Gsoc said afterwards it had no plans to re-interview Ms Farrell spoke volumes. And it suggested Mr Bailey’s hopes of persuading Gsoc that he had been the victim of a Garda conspiracy needed a lot more than Ms Farrell’s testimony to succeed.
Mr Bailey’s case to Gsoc was also hampered by the fact that Martin Graham, who testified at the High Court case that gardaí had bribed him with drugs to get him to spy on Mr Bailey, refused to make a statement to Gsoc after they travelled to meet him in the UK.
Given the central roles that both witnesses played in Mr Bailey’s allegation of a conspiracy, it was no surprise that Gsoc was unable to find any evidence to support the contention as most of Mr Bailey’s own evidence related to his treatment at the hands of the gardaí during his arrests.
What Gsoc did establish was just how badly managed the investigation was. Exhibits and statements went missing and job books were found to have pages removed, something that will doubtless give support to those who still believe in conspiracy rather than incompetence.
In one sense there is no surprise that Gsoc found the investigation was badly managed. To anyone following the case over the years that was evident from the failure of gardaí to take such seemingly obvious steps as asking Mr Bailey to take part in a ID parade to see if Ms Farrell could identify him.
Gsoc was hampered in their investigation by the refusal of some witnesses, both civilian and retired gardaí, to assist with them in their inquiries. They were also hampered by the death of some key witnesses, including some retired gardaí, in the 22 years since the murder.
Add in the fact that there were some aspects of Mr Bailey’s allegations which were simply unprovable because of a lack of corroborating objective evidence, it is fair to say that Gsoc did as good a job as could be expected of it in the circumstances.