BY KIERAN O’MAHONY
IAN Bailey has called for a ‘stand-alone’ tribunal to look at the garda investigation as a whole into the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, following the publication of the Fennelly Report last week which sought to investigate the recording of calls in garda stations other than those to 999.
The extensive report in particular focused on Bandon Garda Station and says that, at some unknown date in 1996, the telecommunications technician in Bandon, apparently by mistake, connected a number of lines to the recording system, which went outside what had been approved for recording in 1995.
‘The term reference ‘M’ required the Commission to review all recordings relating to the garda investigation to the death of Madame Du Plantier and to establish whether those recorded calls and any other acts and events disclosed evidence of unlawful or unproper conduct,’ said Mr Bailey speaking exclusively to The Southern Star.
‘It was disappointing that Mr Justice Fennelly chose not to consider any other acts or events in his final report and, in this respect, the terms of the Commission were not fulfilled. It is this omission which now prompts my call for a stand-alone tribunal to look at the garda investigation as a whole.’
From early 1997, phone conversations by members of the team investigating the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home in Schull on December 23rd, 1996 were recorded without their knowledge. Those tapes were subsequently retained in Bandon Garda Station and all bar a few of the tapes were destroyed in a flood at the station in November 2009.
The report said ‘it is of serious concern that in the small sample of recorded calls available to the Commission, evidence is disclosed that members of An Garda Siochána involved in the investigation, including the officer responsible for preparing the report for the officer of the DPP, were prepared to contemplate altering, modifying or suppressing evidence that did not assist them in furthering their belief that Mr Bailey murdered Madame Toscan du Plantier,’ though the Commission found no evidence such actions were actually carried out.
However, Mr Bailey said that he was pleased to see from a relatively-small number of recordings available to Judge Fennelly that he did find, at very least, ‘improper if not unlawful behaviour in three out of four categories identified.’
‘There was evidence of a willingness to contemplate falsifying, altering or suppressing evidence where it did not assist a false narrative and also a deceased Detective Sgt of the National Criminal Investigation Unit, Liam Hogan, had made improper disclosures to members of the press and media to blacken my name.’
In the third category, Mr Bailey said that two unnamed living retired members of the Garda Siochána seemed prepared to contemplate what would have been a criminal act by pre-dating a statement. Judge Fennelly described it as ‘improper conduct.’
‘It is also interesting to note that the Commission identified some 15 recordings which were not made available, as they should have been, as part of my discovery order in my civil action. On that point, we are awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court later this month or early next month for a retrial.’
Mr Bailey is currently on bail following his arrest two weeks ago on a European Arrest Warrant, which he is challenging in court, where French authorities are seeking his extradition over the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.