The French have had the infamous Jackal? England has had Lord Lucan and Ireland now and West Cork have adopted Ian Bailey for right or wrong this story, as I write this, has become infamous, not just in Ireland but across the European divide, especially in France. Jim Sheridan is doing a mini documentary on Bailey’s life.

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Fred Bassett’s Manifesto 

Election:  Saturday 8th February 2020

Nearly 25 years in the uncertain legal wilderness, Ian Bailey has been tried in absentia in France and found guilty of murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.  The French seek his extradition to serve a 25 year sentence:  What will our higher courts decide and will their Ruling be acknowledged and acted upon, if they conclude Mr Bailey is not to be extradited?  The Republic of Ireland are a sovereign Nation and the French must Respect this.

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The Mick Clifford Podcast: Ian Bailey’s poetic justice

The Mick Clifford Podcast: Ian                 Bailey’s poetic justice

Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey still lives under the shadow of a crime he has never stood trial for here, but was found guilty of in absentia in France. He now writes verse to battle a fear of extradition he tells Michael Clifford.

The fear comes at Ian Bailey in waves. It lodges in the pit of his stomach. He can become consumed with the prospect of a knock on the door, a piece of paper waved in his face, conveyance to a French prison for the rest of his life.

The fear comes and goes. Sometimes he can manage for hours without even contemplating the break up of the home he shares with his partner in deepest West Cork.

Other times he feels it hard. One tactic he uses to deal with the fear is to write a poem.

“I’m very much at peace with myself,” he says.

“This year I’ve been more creative than ever. But I’ve got this fear thing. I have to live with the possibility of being extradited. It’s there all the time.”

On 21 June last, the French judiciary dispatched to the Irish government a request for the execution of a European Arrest Warrant to extradite the 62-year-old Englishman.

This followed his conviction on May 31 in a Paris court for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in December 1996. The sentence handed down for the crime was twenty-five years imprisonment.

He was convicted in absentia. He didn’t travel to Paris, he says, because he had absolutely no confidence that the court would deal with the matter impartially.

He stayed at home, where he received dispatches, often hourly, about how things were going in the Palais de Justice.

“Jim Sheridan is making a documentary on this whole thing and his film crew were in Paris and I was hearing back (from them) what was happening,” he says.

I had a news blackout, didn’t watch TV news or read papers but I was getting a general picture relayed back to me. I wrote several poems during that time.

He does his writing in a den, a converted shed at the back of the house he shares with his partner Jules Thomas. There is a scattering of books in the den, a tall table that could nearly be an easel, wood carvings that he has fashioned.

On one of the carvings is a shortened version of the serenity prayer, most often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

He works out here while Jules, an artist, has a studio attached the main house. It is in many ways a rural idyll, yet the past is still not past for Ian Bailey.

The trial was the latest attempt by the French to bring him to account him for the murder of Ms Du Plantier. In 2010 and 2016, an investigating magistrate had issued arrest warrants to the Irish authorities. On both occasions the Irish courts rejected the application.

The main legal plank for the rejection is that the Irish director of public prosecutions had repeatedly ruled that there is not sufficient evidence to charge Bailey in connection with Ms Du Plantier’s death.

Despite mumblings from the French, and the usual “no smoke without fire” rhetoric about Bailey, the DPP’s decision is grounded in common sense and sound legal principles.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier
Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Now, however, the French believe that things are different. Now, he is, in their eyes, a convicted murderer and Ireland is a friend and neighbour, a fellow member of the EU.

It’s five months since the request was made to the Irish authorities yet he has not been arrested. There has been no application to the courts by the Irish government for Bailey’s extradition.

The Department of Justice will not comment on the case, but one possibility for the delay is that there is protracted internal debate as to whether the Irish courts would deal with this application any differently than the previous ones.

Or, to put it plainly, would the Irish court recognise the legitimacy of Bailey’s conviction in a French court?

While such matters may occupy legal minds, the man at the centre of the issue has been busy excavating his creativity. He has published a collection of poems entitled A John Wayne State Of Mind.

IAN BAILEY TRIAL COVERAGE

This is his second collection, and deals to a large extent with his life since he first came under suspicion for Ms Du Plantier’s murder within days of the discovery of the Frenchwoman’s badly beaten body near her holiday home in west Cork. He touches on the Paris trial in his introduction to the collection.

“I was bonfired on a pyre of lies. I am anticipating a third and imminent arrest under a European Arrest Warrant. Somebody once said that every cloud has a silver lining. All I know is from a creative perspective the events of my life are a bottomless ocean of source material which, if not creating inspiration, may be making for perspiration.”

One poem was written as he was receiving word of the progress of the trial. It is entitled ‘I Remain Calm In The Eye Of The Hurricane’.

“There is a full force hurricane, storming, circulating, swirling, angry, aggressive and vengeful, around the outside of my head.”

This and all the other poems are accompanied with explanatory notes, which provide something of a fragmented narrative of his travails in recent years.

Apart from the Paris trial, he was at the centre of a civil action in 2015 in which he sued the state for wrongful arrest in the aftermath of the murder.

Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas
Ian Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas

Following a hearing of 64 days a jury threw out his case. He was subsequently ruled liable for the costs, estimated to be at least €2million. Nobody has come knocking on his door to recoup that debt.

“I haven’t heard anything about it,” he says. “What can I do but send them a book of poetry?”

His collection includes reference to this action and a few poems that express a jaundiced view of the legal business.

He knows a thing or two about the law himself, having studied in UCC for three different law degrees. His scrolls take pride of place on a shelf in the den.

Would he ever consider practicing?

“I’d consider doing the Bar exams but having had first-hand experience of law and justice here, I’d run a hundred miles from it.”

While Bailey considers that he has been persecuted relentlessly, Ms Du Plantier’s bereaved family are of the belief that he has got away with murder.

In fact, the Paris trial could be viewed as an attempt by the French authorities to provide solace to the family under the guise of a murder trial.

At the hearing, Ms du Plantier’s son Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud spoke movingly and with dignity of his loss. He was 15 when his mother was taken from him.

How does Bailey feel about the burden they carry, that they are still seeking closure this far down the line?

“I can’t do anything to change their attitude to me,” he says.

“I know they were assured that the gardaí knew who it was and that was me. They were sold a false narrative early on. All I know is that their legal process convicted an innocent man. I’ve always been sympathetic to them. I understand how they have come to believe in a false narrative.”

Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s son Pierre-Louis               Baudey-Vignaud.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s son Pierre-Louis Baudey-Vignaud.

Bailey never considered moving out of west Cork following the fall-out from Ms Du Plantier’s murder.

Since 2010, when the French first came after him, he had little choice but to stay put. Three years ago his mother died in England and he couldn’t attend the funeral for fear of being arrested and extradited.

The aftermath of the murder, arrests and suspicion was traumatic for many people, but Ian Bailey doesn’t believe he is feared or despised in west Cork.

“You’d have to talk to them (local people) to see what they think of me. I know our neighbours and everybody was visited and told that ‘he’s a murderer.

That was backed up by the DPP’s critique. A lot of the media certainly bought into the false narrative. I forget those who trespass against me. I try to get on reasonably with everybody. I feel very much at home (here). I’ve got a lot of friends, a lot of support.”

The DPP critique he references is a crucial exhibit in his defence. In 2001, an official in the DPP’s office examined the garda investigation of Bailey and was excoriating in its criticism.

In places the critique even suggested he was innocent of the crime, which went a lot further than merely assessing whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute.

In 2011 the then retired DPP Eamon Barnes brought the critique into the public domain when he forwarded it to the Supreme Court which was examining whether to extradite Bailey.

The document sets out precisely why the idea of charging Bailey would be wrong.

The French, of course, take a different view. Living with the dark cloud following him all the way into his sixties has not been easy but a suspicion lingers that Bailey is not adverse to the publicity, or even notoriety, that the whole saga has bestowed on him.

Locals have noted that the stall from which he sells his vegetables and poetry in towns in west Cork on Saturdays often attracts tourists curious about the tall Englishman.

His life remains simple. He does not drink as he once did. In a 2003 libel trial, he claimed that alcohol was culpable for the attacks he had made on his partner, described in vicious detail by another witness.

He gave up the booze for a while, but today he says he drinks moderately.

“The thing was largely to do with spirits, whiskey and maybe vodka,” he says.

I went to AA, did 120 meetings in 90 days. I came away from there knowing the serenity prayer. I stopped drinking, the serenity prayer guided me.

“I have an odd pint and I take a drop of wine with food. Very moderate. Measured.”

On one level his life could also be described in those terms. He has the space and time to excavate his creativity, living modestly yet apparently in great harmony with his surrounds. The outside world is as removed as he wants it to be.

Yet that cloud still hovers. He awaits the knock on the door.

The fear is always there and will in all likelihood remain so unless and until a resolution is arrived at that allows the sky over his west Cork home to brighten into blue.

I’m In ‘A John Wayne State Of Mind’ is available in bookshops in west Cork and on Amazon.

Saturday 1 February 2020

Ian Bailey to appear in court over alleged drug driving

Ian Bailey. Picture: Collins 1
Ian Bailey. Picture: Collins

 

Journalist and poet Ian Bailey (62) will appear before Cork District Court in March on summonses issued over alleged drug driving.

Mr Bailey – who is fighting extradition to France after he was convicted in absentia last year of the murder of film executive and
mother of one Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39) in 1996 – faces a total of four summonses.

The counts all arise from an alleged incident on August 25 last year outside Schull. Mr Bailey was stopped by Gardaí while driving outside Schull and taken to Bantry Garda Station after he failed a roadside alcohol breathalyzer test.

He was subsequently released without charge. Mr Bailey issued a statement 24 hours after the incident to The Irish Independent in response to media reports.

“I can confirm that on Sunday evening last, I was stopped at a garda checkpoint outside Schull,” he said. “I failed a roadside breathalyzer test.”

“At that point, I was taken to Bantry Garda Station where I subsequently passed the electronic (alcohol) test. The treatment by gardai towards me was courteous at all times,” he said.

Mr Bailey declined to comment further. The alleged incident occurred in Schull around 9pm on Sunday, August 25. However, Mr Bailey now faces four summonses on the basis of samples which were taken by gardaí and sent for further analysis.

Mr Bailey faces one summons over alleged drug driving, two summonses over the alleged possession of cannabis and one summons for allegedly allowing his vehicle to be used for the possession of drugs namely cannabis.

The summonses are expected to be dealt with before Bantry District Court in March. The journalist, poet and law graduate has lived in west Cork with his partner, Welsh artist Jules Thomas, for almost 30 years.

He sued the State for wrongful arrest after claiming his life had been destroyed through the wrongful association with the du Plantier murder investigation.

Mr Bailey also insisted that “sinister attempts” were made to frame him for the crime. He also lodged a complaint with the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) over his alleged treatment by some gardaí.

The French mother of one was found beaten to death by her holiday home outside Toormore on December 23 1996. Mr Bailey was arrested for questioning by Gardai in respect of their investigation in 1997 and 1998.

He was released without charge on both occasions. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) later ruled out any prosecution in Ireland over the killing.

However, following a lengthy investigation launched in France under Magistrate Patrick Gachon in 2007, Mr Bailey was tried in absentia before a Paris court last May.

He was convicted before the non-jury trial and sentenced to 25 years in prison for Ms du Plantier’s killing. The French have twice failed in attempts to have him extradited from Ireland under European Arrest Warrants.

A third extradition hearing is due before the High Court next month. Mr Bailey was also ordered by the Paris court last May to pay over €225,000 in compensation to Ms du Plantier’s family and the French State.

He has consistently denied the charges, and did not attend the week-long trial in Paris. Mr Bailey rejected the French prosecution as “farcical” and “a show trial.”

He warned that he was convicted before the trial even opened. The journalist previously confirmed he has “absolutely no intention” of paying anything on foot of the French court order.

Freds Summary: Ian Bailey has lived under a Dark Shadow of Conspiracy Theories; rural gossip; nationwide conversations on bar stools from Cork to Donegal; and let’s not forget the biggest gossip shops in the country….yes the Garda stations where they whinge all day about their mortgages and backbite each other especially those in other units and others stations.  First, we have to mention the famous “Gate”.  Now according to Garda HQ we have a highly trained professional police force in Ireland so apart from all the missing cash from various Garda stations in Dublin and beyond and not one Garda arrested in any of the stations, it is astonishing.  This now takes me back to Bandon Garda station.  The question is simple.  How could a large gate go missing from under the noses and eyes of our highly trained police keystones.  Imagine going into a hardware shop and putting a large gate into a large wheelbarrow and trying to walk out the door not noticed.  Exactly, it would be literally impossible without being caught.  So technically and legally this station is also a crime scene for Theft. 

Add to this we have the 700+ phone calls that were tapped illegally – some calls were tapped between the lawyer and their clients which is most serious and yet in the Ian Bailey case, not one keystone cop or others were exposed.  Then we come to the homeless man who was taken for a “ride” by Rogue Cops; he was given money and cannabis (an illegal drug) to spy and record Ian Bailey.  Again, not one of the keystones was even disciplined.  We then have the bizarre situation where two Gardai attempted to dictate to the DPP in Cork which is absolutely a fraudulent crime – the DPP are an independent body where Gardai only submit a file, they don’t and legally cannot intervere with the DPP because it would be a very serious Criminal Act.  Again, these keystones were never disciplined.  Then we come to Ms. Farrell who had to leave Schull.  She was forced to make a statement in relation to Ian Bailey about seeing him on the bridge on the night in question.  She subsequently withdrew that statement and afterwards told media sources that the cops knew she was having an affair and had threatened to tell her husband.  Ms. Farrell now lives somewhere in the Roscommon area for her safety and a quiet life.  Add to this the arrest of Ian Bailey’s partner Jules and in her words at the Garda station “the cops were arrogant, deceitful and displayed no manners.”  I believe this personally because I have encountered many Gardai who should not be wearing a uniform of any State agency. 

Bailey is no saint – we all know this.  At times he may even be his own worst enemy. But in the light of day to say he is a murderer without ever facing an Irish court because of the lack of any evidence would be a terrible moral wrong.  The death of Sophie Tuscan du Plantier was extremely tragic and anybody with compassion would feel the pain her family must be going through but we have to see this in a legal framework with a focus on Equity of Balance and what I mean by this is – the French trial in Ian Bailey’s absence has no measure of balance or 50:50 rule of DPP.  This is a very serious case with international consequences between Ireland and its judicial system and France, in the months ahead.  Ireland has an independent democracy with its own legal structure and it has given its verdict that Ian Bailey has no case to answer but the French, being arrogant, as is normal, see it differently.  France also has never given up one of their citizens and this can be checked out.  They operate a completely different legal system to Ireland (Common Law and Adversarial) to the French which is no jury, three judges (Inquisitorial); it is Napoleonic law. 

I will close by saying, there are darker forces involved in this and one would have to ask who are the sinister elements who are trying to shaft Ian Bailey for a crime that not just myself, but many believe, including our DPP, that Mr Bailey has no charge to answer which means he is an innocent man in the Republic of Ireland.  There is a long road ahead and there will be many conversations at dinner parties, even in exclusive Dublin 4, and I advise people to be very careful in what you say and especially in what you write because we would not want to have any retired influential people “thrown under the bus”.  Fred

Addendum 4th February 2020: 

Report out about sub-human conditions of prisoners in France.  Ian Bailey now 23 years engaged in what is “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied” and who has been tried in “absentia” by a French three Judge no Jury inquisitorial based court and sentenced to 25 years in prison (now aged in his 60’s) could never survive in prisons as described by European Court.  Ireland must be aware of what this man may have to endure, especially when one considers that his case did not pass the DPP and he was never formally arrested and brought before the Irish courts of Justice. https://www.france24.com/en/20200130-european-court-orders-france-to-pay-inmates-in-prison-overcrowding-ruling

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