Gardaí saw Bailey’s libel action as opportunity, says barrister

Legal team did not expect history of assaults against partner to be raised

Gardaí saw Ian Bailey's libel action against eight newspapers as an opportunity to highlight why they saw him as a suspect for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier after the DPP ruled that he should not be charged with the murder of the Frenchwoman, according to one of Mr Bailey's lawyers.

Barrister Jim Duggan BL who represented Mr Bailey in his largely unsuccessful 2003 libel action against eight newspaper titles, told the makers of a 13 episode podcast series on Ms Toscan du Plantier's murder that he wondered about Garda motivations during the libel action.

“It seemed to me that that they (the gardaí) had more interest in the newspapers actions than the newspapers themselves – they saw this as an opportunity to do against Bailey what the DPP wasn’t doing – that is to try and expose him – I certainly wasn’t prepared for that,” he said.

Mr Duggan said that one of the difficulties with litigation, in particular defamation, is that one doesn't know what is going to come out and the decision by lawyers for the newspapers to raise Mr Bailey's history of violence against his partner, Jules Thomas took him by surprise.



Asked by podcast journalists, Sam Bungey and Jennifer Ford what he would have done if he had anticipated that the papers would bring up Mr Bailey's assaults on Ms Thomas in 1993, 1996 and 2001, Mr Duggan said that he "probably would not have proceeded at all".

" I probably would have advised Ian Bailey to leave matters lie – that he'll only be doing more harm than good by going ahead with his actions – whether he would have agreed to that or not, I don't know," he told the podcast, entitled  'West Cork', for Amazon's online audio bookseller, Audible.

Mr Duggan, who was also part of Mr Bailey's legal team in his 2014 High Court action against the state for wrongful arrest, also revealed to the English journalists for their podcast series that Mr Bailey wasn't always the easiest of clients to deal with.

"He enjoys being the centre of attention, you see – he's extraordinary, he'll do nothing you tell him – I mean we would tell him to keep his head down, his mouth shut – he'll do anything but," said Mr Duggan who also has a holiday home in Schull and spoke about the impact of the murder locally.

“You were frightened. This was something awful that had happened and people just couldn’t deal with or cope with it. People locked or doubled locked their doors. My wife would not go out. My children would not be let out.”

Mr Bailey, who was twice arrested by gardaí for questioning about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier but released without charge on each occasion, has denied any involvement in her killing and denied he ever made any admissions that he was involved in her death.

In November 2011, a solicitor at the DPP’s office, Robert Sheehan carried out a review of the Garda file in the case and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to charge Mr Bailey with the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times