Ian Bailey’s ex-partner Jules Thomas to sue Netflix over Sophie Toscan du Plantier documentary
The West Cork artist was not interviewed by the makers of the Netflix documentary series
Tue Nov 22 2022 – 14:13
Netflix and the makers of a documentary series about the murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier in west Cork are to be sued by the ex-partner of the main suspect in the case, Ian Bailey.
Schull-based artist Jules Thomas is preparing to sue Netflix, production company Lightbox Entertainment and the documentary’s director, John Dower, over the three part series, Sophie – A Murder in West Cork, according to papers filed on Monday with the Courts Service.
It is understood that Ms Thomas intends to claim that the documentary series contains factual inaccuracies about her and will argue that the series made her a social pariah in her west Cork community, affecting her mental and emotional health and damaged her ability to sell her paintings.
She also intends to argue that she never gave permission for the makers of the Netflix series to film inside and outside her west Cork home and plans to claim that the use of this footage of her home was an invasion of her privacy.
Ms Thomas, who lives at the Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, Co Cork, is representing herself. The artist, who attended Bono’s Stories of Surrender’ Book Tour at the Olympia Theatre on Monday night with filmmaker Jim Sheridan could not be contacted on Tuesday for comment.
Sheridan has also made a documentary series on the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier, the five-part series Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie featured interviews with Ms Thomas and Mr Bailey and aired on Sky Crime in June of last year.
The Irish Times understands that Ms Thomas was never interviewed by Dower or his production team and that she only features in the series in news report footage accompanying Mr Bailey to court.
Ms Thomas, who separated from Mr Bailey in April of last year, was twice arrested for questioning by gardaí investigating the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier at her holiday home at Toormore near Schull in December 1996. She was released without charge on both occasions.
A solicitor at the DPP’s office, Robert Sheehan, who reviewed the garda file on the case, was highly critical of gardaí for arresting Ms Thomas on February 10th, 1997, and again on September 20th, 2000, saying it appeared that her arrest and detention was unlawful on both occasions.
In a 44-page review of the case prepared in November 2001, Mr Sheehan noted the questioning of Ms Thomas by gardaí on February 10th 1997 did not relate to any involvement by her in the murder and she later said that she felt press-ganged by gardaí into making statements.
In her original statement to gardaí, Ms Thomas said that she had gone to bed at around 1.30am on the morning of the murder, December 23rd, 1996, and she remembered Mr Bailey getting into bed beside her but she believed he got up about an hour later.
“He got up easy so as not to wake me, even though my recollection was poor, I am almost 100 per cent sure. He did not say anything to me. He did not say anything to me. I don’t recall his absence during my further sleep,” she told gardaí.
“I did not take any notice of him leaving the bed as this was common for him to do this. I can’t recollect Ian coming back to bed, I remember him getting me a coffee on or about nine o’clock and as far as I honestly remember, he did not come back to bed at all that morning.”
Ms Thomas later gave an interview on Today with Pat Kenny on RTÉ Radio 1 in 1997 where she said that she was “knocked for six” by the experience of being arrested and that gardaí were applying pressure upon her to make her say things that she knew not to be true.
Mr Bailey was later convicted of assaulting Ms Thomas in the summer 2001 and he later admitted two earlier other assaults on her including one from 1996 which left her with a split lip and requiring hospitalisation, assaults which he said were all to his “eternal shame”.
Mr Bailey was twice arrested by gardaí in 1997 and 1998 for questioning about Ms Toscan du Plantier’s murder but has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing. However, he was in May 2019 convicted in absentia in France of the voluntary homicide of Ms Toscan du Plantier.
Ms Thomas and Mr Bailey separated last year after almost 30 years together and Ms Thomas later told The Mail on Sunday that she had stood by Mr Bailey ever since he had been arrested and questioned about the killing out of a sense of loyalty to him.
“After 25 years, I am sick and tired banging on with this – it’s just been awful – all that stuff in print, the press attention, the photographers, everything … Why did I stick with it, what else could I do? If I had left him in the middle of it all, it would have looked like he did it, so I just gritted my teeth.
“I am convinced of his innocence, always have been and that it was a stitch up by the guards from the beginning,” said Ms Thomas, who testified for Mr Bailey in his partially successful libel action in 2001 against eight newspapers and unsuccessful action against the State in 2014 and 2015.
“He is very hard going. I put up with him for far too long and I realise now that it was a waste of time … it was always a one-way flow, men like him don’t ever bend or accommodate … it’s to do with their egos,” she told The Mail on Sunday.
Ms Thomas last September attended a memorial concert for Ms Toscan du Plantier at the Harbour Hotel in Schull entitled Remember Me – A Concert for Sophie, which was addressed by Ms Toscan du Plantier’s uncle, Jean Pierre Gazeau but she declined to speak to the media.