Ian Bailey wins extradition appeal

 

Ian Bailey walked free from the Supreme Court today after it unanimously granted his appeal against his extradition to France over the murder of film-maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996.

Speaking after the ruling, the Manchester-born former journalist  - who has always denied any involvement in the murder in Schull, Co Cork - said he was "thrilled" at the outcome.

All five judges upheld Mr Bailey's argument that his extradition should be refused on the ground there is no actual intention by the French authorities to "try" him at this stage, as required by the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 which implemented the European Framework Decision on Extradition.

The Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, said it was clear from the facts of the case, including a document from the French prosecuting authorities which was only provided to the court in January during the appeal hearing, that while a decision had been made in France equivalent to charging Mr Bailey, that did not incorporate a decision to "try" him for murder.

Four of the judges also upheld Mr Bailey's argument that Section 44 of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 prohibits surrender because the alleged offence was committed outside French territory and Irish law does not allow prosecution for the same offence when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman said this case was "unique on its facts and also of considerable legal importance".

There did not appear to be a previous case where the forcible delivery of an Irish resident, long established in Ireland although not an Irish citizen, to another country was requested so he could be subjected to proceedings there for an offence allegedly committed in Ireland.

This request for forcible delivery was also made some 13 years after the crime was alleged committed and after the Irish DPP had decided, following a detailed analysis of the case, the evidence did not warrant a prosecution of Mr Bailey, he said.

However, the judge observed the State had said such factors were "totally irrelevant" to this case. Given its findings on those issues, the court said it did not have to consider another ground of the appeal which contended surrender would be an abuse of process and focuses on new material provided last November to Mr Bailey's lawyers.

Martin Giblin SC, with Garrett Simons SC, for Mr Bailey, indicated that matter may be addressed in other proceedings.

The new material includes a review carried out in 2001 by the DPP's office which criticised the Garda investigation into the murder and set out why former DPP Eamonn Barnes decided not to prosecute Mr Bailey. The State previously said the Minister for Justice, Garda Commissioner, the Superintendent heading the murder investigation and entire force disputed matters in that review, objected to it being admitted and wanted an opportunity to respond to it.

Mr Justice John Murray had previously remarked that, if it proved unnecessary to address the new material, it would be "a relief" to the entire Garda not to have to deal with it. The DPP had said this was a "thoroughly flawed" investigation, he said.

The other judges who allowed the appeal were Mr Justice Nial Fennelly and Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell.

Outside Dublin’s Four Courts, Mr Bailey, who is taking legal action against the State for wrongful arrest, said he and his partner Jules Thomas have been through hell. “This has obviously been a very trying time,” he said. “I am obviously relieved that this particular part of the proceedings is over. There are many stages and matters still to be dealt with.”

Mr Bailey said the last few years have been very hard. “You wouldn’t be able to believe the hell that we have been put went through by this awfulness,” he added.