SCHULL resident Ian Bailey has lost most of the grounds of his appeal against a High Court jury's rejection of his civil action for damages against the Garda Commissioner and State, over the conduct of the gardaÃ into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
This week's Court of Appeal ruling paves the way for a fresh trial on one issue â if alleged wrongful disclosure by gardaÃ of information to the media â before Mr Bailey's libel cases against various media in late 2003 â amounted to âconspiracy by unlawful means' and/or breached his constitutional right to privacy. Mr Bailey claims gardaÃ disclosed information from statements made by Marie Farrell, a key witness in the murder investigation, to the media, prior to the Circuit Court libel proceedings which were settled.
The appeal court ruled this claim was not statute-barred (outside the time limit) and the High Court was wrong not to let it be decided by the jury.
When viewed against âthe large panorama of complaints' against gardaÃ, this claim may, on one view, amount to an issue of lesser importance, but it could not agree with the High Court, if such disclosure occurred, it was impossible to separate it from earlier advance publicity which was statute-barred, the Court of Appeal said.
After a 64-day hearing, a High Court jury in March 2015 dismissed Mr Bailey's claims that three gardai conspired to frame him for the late 1996 murder in West Cork.Â Â
Two days earlier the defendants got an order from the trial judge, Mr Justice John Hedigan, dismissing most of Mr Bailey's other claims as statute-barred â brought outside the six-year time limit. Mr Bailey appealed on 17 grounds, while the State cross-appealed the trial judge's decision to let the jury consider whether three gardaÃ conspired to frame him for murder.Â
In a joint judgment of Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan on Wednesdsay, with which Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan agreed, the court ruled that, âsave in one minor respect', Bailey's appeal should be dismissed and the State's cross-appeal should also be dismissed.