Ian Bailey to consider appeal after receiving High Court ruling

Solicitor expresses surprise over shift in department’s view on assisting French

Ian Bailey: will have 28 days to lodge appeal after receiving judgment. Photograph: Collins

Ian Bailey: will have 28 days to lodge appeal after receiving judgment. Photograph: Collins

 

The solicitor acting for English journalist, Ian Bailey has confirmed he is considering lodging an appeal against the outcome of his client’s unsuccessful High Court action against the state for damages over his arrest in relation to the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

Frank Buttimer told The Irish Times that the question of an appeal is under “active consideration” after he received a finalised version of the High Court order in the case last Thursday which now enables Mr Bailey to appeal the jury verdict in the High Court case brought against the state.

Mr Bailey from Schull in Co Cork initiated legal proceedings against the state in 2007 over his arrests in 1997 and 1998 for questioning about the murder of French film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home at Toormore in West Cork in December 1996.

The case went to hearing before a jury and Mr Justice John Hedigan in the High Court in November 2014 but on March 30th this year, after a trial lasting 64 days, the jury unanimously dismissed claims by Mr Bailey that gardai conspired to implicate him in the murder.

Mr Justice Hedigan’s furnished his judgement on costs in May, thus ending his involvement in the case but the finalised version of his order was only received by Mr Buttimer in recent days following consultation between the High Court registrar and legal representatives for both Mr Bailey and the state.

“The order in the case was perfected last week in a process involving court administrators and the parties. This process involves all sides agreeing to the precise wording and style of the order. This process is now complete,” said a Court Services spokesman.

Mr Buttimer said that an appeal would take several months to prepare and, if Mr Bailey does decide to appeal the High Court decision, then it would be sometime in the New Year before the matter would come before the Court of Appeal which would hear the matter.

A team of French investigators is set to return to Ireland this autumn as part of a French investigation into Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder and they plan to interview up to 30 witnesses in west Cork and elsewhere in the country.

French magistrate judge Patrick Gachon had hoped to send the team in 2014 but the Department of Justice decided to defer any decision on providing further assistance to the French investigation under the Mutual Assistance Act 2000.

In April 2014, Mr Buttimer confirmed he had sought a suspension of any co-operation with the French, having informed the department that Mr Bailey would consider taking legal action against the department if it did not terminate assistance offered to the French.

Last June, The Irish Times learned the suspension of the offer of assistance had been lifted. Although the department declined to comment on the matter, it is understood the decision to lift the suspension stemmed from Mr Bailey’s failure in his High Court action.

 

No notification

Yesterday, Mr Buttimer told The Irish Times that he had received no notification from the Department of Justice that it had changed its position with regard to providing assistance to the French investigation and said he would be surprised if it had lifted the suspension.

 

He said the decision to suspend co-operation in 2014 was based on two grounds, namely Mr Bailey’s then impending High Court action against the State and the then impending inquiry by Mr Justice Nial Fennelly into illegal recording of telephone calls in Garda stations.

The Fennelly inquiry stemmed from the discovery, made during preparatory work by the defence in Mr Bailey’s legal action, that gardaí had recorded telephone conversations in Bandon Garda Station.

The tapes, which were found as part of the discovery process for items in Garda possession relating to the case, included recordings of conversations among gardaí, conversations between gardaí and witnesses and conversations between gardaí and journalists.

“If they were the grounds for the decision to freeze the co-operation with the French in 2014, they should still apply, because Mr Bailey’s case is not finalised until he decides whether to appeal the High Court decision,” said Mr Buttimer.

“In the meantime, the Fennelly inquiry is still continuing its inquiry into the issues arising from the discovery of recordings made at Bandon Garda station of telephone conversations relating to the case,” he added.

“Given both issues . . . I can’t see how the Department of Justice can give the go-ahead to the French to return.”

This article was ammended on September 9th to correct an error