A LAWYER representing the family of French film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier, murdered in West Cork in 1996, has said that the Irish State’s decision not to appeal a High Court ruling refusing the extradition of Ian Bailey to France will have no impact on French plans to try Mr Bailey in absentia.
Alain Spilliaert, who represents Ms Toscan du Plantier’s elderly parents, Georges and Marguerite Bouniol and her son, Pierre Louise Baudey-Vignaud, said that he was not surprised by the Irish decision not to appeal the High Court refusal last month to extradite Mr Bailey to France.
Mr Spilliaert explained he had travelled to Ireland in 2012 to consult with the family’s Irish lawyer, James MacGuill, and senior counsel, Remy Farrell SC, who had advised him that the 2012 Supreme Court ruling would be a bar to any extradition and he had advised clients of that many years ago.
‘We were not surprised by Judge Hunt’s decision and the State’s decision to accept it, but my feeling is that this should not change anything in terms of what will happen in France. We still have a schedule and that is that a date will be fixed in September to try Ian Bailey in absentia,’ said Mr Spilliaert.
Meanwhile, Mr Bailey has revealed that he was ‘relieved and quietly pleased’ to learn that the State does not intend appealing the ruling by Mr Justice Tony Hunt in the High Court last month prohibiting his extradition to France on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).
‘I actually thought the State would appeal Mr Justice Hunt’s decision to the Supreme Court so to learn that they are not going to that is very welcome – it’s a relief but it’s not the end of the matter, as I fully expect the French to proceed with a trial in France in my absence,’ he said.
Mr Bailey said that he was also delighted that the State had decided not to contest the issue of costs in the case as it means that his legal team led by his solicitor, Frank Buttimer would be paid for the huge amount of work they had put in fighting the EAW and his extradition to France.
At last Thursday’s hearing at the High Court, solicitor for the state, Gareth Lynch told the court that the State was not going to appeal the matter, whereupon Garrett Simons SC for Mr Bailey applied for costs and Mr Justice Hunt granted the application, awarding the costs of the case to Mr Bailey.
‘The news from the High Court is a relief but it’s by no means the end of matters – there’s been a Sword of Damocles hanging over me for many years now because of the possibility of a trial in France and that sword continues to hang over me, even though I try to get on with my life as best I can.
‘And while the EAW has been rejected by the Irish courts, it remains extant elsewhere in Europe, which means I can’t leave Ireland as I would be arrested and that is a serious infringement of my constitutional right to freedom of travel, which is very limiting,’ he said.
Mr Bailey pointed out that the existence of the EAW meant that he could not visit his elderly mother, Brenda Bailey, before she died in May 2013, nor attend her funeral. And just this year, it prevented him from attending the wedding of his only niece, Jennifer Reynolds, in Devon in May.
The State’s decision not to appeal Mr Justice Hunt’s ruling comes five years after the Supreme Court ruled in March 2012 that Mr Bailey should not be extradited to France on foot of an earlier EAW issued by French authorities in 2010 which was approved by the High Court in March 2011.
But the Supreme Court overturned the 2011 High Court decision, on a number of grounds, including that that the French authorities had failed to specify that the arrest and extradition was for the purpose of charge in relation to the death of Ms Toscan du Plantier, which is required under Irish law.
Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardaí for questioning about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home near Schull in December 1996, but he has denied any involvement in her killing, and has denied ever making any admissions in relation to her death.