WEST Cork-based journalist Ian Bailey has denied that he rang French film producer, Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Paris just weeks before she left for a vacation near Schull which was to end in her murder over 20 years ago.
Mr Bailey (61) of The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull said that he was aware from a French investigation that Ms Toscan du Plantier’s cousin, Alexandra Lewy, told French police that Ms Toscan du Plantier had told her of a phone call she received in late 1996 from a journalist in West Cork.
According to Ms Lewy’s statement to French investigators in November 2008, she remembered a conversation that she had with Ms Toscan du Plantier (39) before she departed for Schull.
‘Sophie told me that she had been contacted on the phone by a man from the area in Ireland where she had her holiday home. This man advised her he was an independent journalist and a writer – according to my cousin, he requested a meeting with her for cultural reasons but did not specify any further.
‘I think that my cousin gave me the name of this individual but I don’t recall his name.’
Ms Lewy said that details of the phone call were conveyed to the Irish police, but they were unable to identify the caller as they had no way of checking the phone records from 1996 as the telephone exchange in Schull at the time had not yet gone digital.
Details of Ms Lewy’s statement are included in a 44-page indictment on Mr Bailey drawn up by investigating magistrate Nathalie Turquey in which she outlines her reason for charging him with the voluntary homicide of Ms Toscan du Plantier at Toormore, Schull on December 23rd 1996.
Mr Bailey said he was aware of the statement but he strongly denied that he ever made any such phone call.
Another French witness, film producer, Guy Girard, has told French police that Ms Toscan du Plantier told him in November 1996 that she knew Mr Bailey and Mr Girard’s statement to French police is also included in the 44-page French document justifying the charge of voluntary homicide.
Under Irish law, both statements would be deemed to be hearsay, but French law permits such statements to be introduced as evidence.
Mr Bailey was due to learn last Thursday whether he has been successful in an appeal in France against the decision to charge him with the voluntary homicide of Ms Toscan du Plantier, but the three-judge appeal court adjourned its ruling until February 1st. Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardai for questioning about the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier but released without charge each time.