Toscan du Plantier lawyer rejects call to end co-operation

Ian Bailey’s solicitor claims French inquiry based on a flawed Garda investigation

A lawyer acting for the family of murdered French woman

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

has dismissed a call by Ian Bailey’s solicitor for the Irish authorities to terminate co-operation with a French investigation into the killing.

Alain Spilliaert said he disagreed with the call by Frank Buttimer to terminate co-operation. He also rejected a suggestion by Mr Buttimer that the French inquiry is based on a flawed Garda investigation.

Mr Spilliaert said the French investigation was not reliant on testimonies by witnesses Marie Farrell and Martin Graham, which had become the subject of controversy over how they were handled by gardaí investigating Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder in west Cork in 1996.


“Firstly, asking for the termination of the co-operation with the French just because of the Martin Graham saga and the Marie Farrell saga is not serious because Ireland has mutual assistance commitments under European law which cannot be voided just for that,” he said.

“It’s too easy to say, ‘Let’s just stop everything’ because there was a Marie Farrell issue and as we have pointed out before, Martin Graham is a standalone issue, and Marie Farrell is no longer considered in Ireland to be a credible witness after changing her story.

“I think it’s very shrewd on the part of the defence lawyers to put all this tsunami against the judicial and police system in Ireland but if all that comes to the conclusion that the French criminal investigation should be stopped, then, this is contrary to what should be done.”

Mr Spilliaert said the French investigation would include aspects of the case ignored or dismissed by the DPP in a review of the evidence in 2001, including what he described as “very important circumstantial evidence” from a French witness, Guy Girard.

“The DPP in his 2001 document simply dismisses Guy Girard by saying it ‘only contains hearsay evidence’ and he doesn’t acknowledge its implications for Mr Bailey’s version of events that he did not know Sophie and only saw her once in the distance,” said Mr Spilliaert. Mr Girard had made a sworn statement to gardaí in 1999 that Ms Toscan du Plantier had spoken to him about a man she knew in Ireland called “Eoin Bailey” who was exploring violence in his creative writing and he had confirmed this statement to French investigators.

"Under French law, Guy Girard's statement is admissible in evidence – it's a very detailed statement about how Sophie had spoken to him about knowing Eoin Bailey in Ireland and when it was put to Mr Bailey by The Irish Times in February 2010, he declined to comment," he said.

'Confirms statements'
"It confirms statements by Alfie Lyons that he was 90 per cent sure he introduced Sophie to Mr Bailey and by Leo Bolger that he was present when they were introduced and yet it carried no weight for the DPP but here in France, it will be an important part of any trial."

Mr Spilliaert also pointed to the testimony of witnesses such as Caroline Leftwick, Paul O’Colmain and James Camier which suggested Mr Bailey knew about the murder before he said he learned about it on December 23rd, 1996, and yet they were dismissed by the DPP.

“The DPP gave no credibility to these witnesses and yet they gave evidence at Mr Bailey’s 2003 libel action which stood up to robust cross-examination by Mr Bailey’s lawyers and we believe they and other witnesses from the libel case will form a huge part of the French file.”

Mr Bailey has always protested his innocence of any involvement in the killing.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times