Former journalist Ian Bailey denied full retrial in murder probe case against Irish state

Former journalist Ian Bailey has vowed to fight on despite being denied a full retrial in his civil case against the Irish state for their handling of a probe into the murder of a French film-maker.

Bailey, 58, had tried to overturn a High Court ruling that dismissed his claim for damages against gardai for allegedly conspiring to frame him for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in 1996.

On Wednesday the Court of Appeal dismissed Bailey’s attempts to have his full civil case reheard. But the court did grant him a re-trial in respect of one claim of alleged wrongful disclosure of information by the gardai in advance of defamation proceedings in 2003.

Outside court Bailey said he still believed the Court of Appeal ruling was a victory, despite not being granted a full new hearing.

“It is not what I had hoped for but it is still a victory. I have another day in court, even though it’s on limited grounds,” he said.

Bailey, who moved to Ireland from Cheltenham in the mid 90s, was arrested twice over the killing of Toscan du Plantier but never charged. He has always strenuously denied any involvement.

He faces a multi-million euro legal-cost bill associated with his civil case against the state. A hearing to determine costs will take place in October.

Toscan du Plantier was battered to death outside her holiday home near Schull, west Cork, two days before Christmas 1996.

Bailey, who was never charged over the death and vehemently denies any involvement, was arrested in 1997 and 1998.

He initiated a civil action against the Garda Commissioner and the state for what he claimed was a conspiracy to frame him for the murder.

What turned out to be a 64-day hearing got under way in November 2014 and the jury dismissed his case the following March.

After he lost the case his legal team submitted 17 grounds of appeal, many of which relate to rulings by the trial judge John Hedigan during the five-month-long case.

His lawyers argued that a key witness, Marie Farrell, was unfairly disparaged by the trial judge, who gave her a warning in front of the jury about perjury.

They also said Mr Justice Hedigan should not have dismissed most of Bailey’s claims towards the end of the case after more than 60 days of a hearing.

The judge withdrew the bulk of the case from the jury after the state argued it had not been lodged within the legal time limit.

A claim that certain gardai were involved in a conspiracy against him in relation to Farrell was allowed to go to the jury. But the jurors found against Bailey after almost two hours of deliberation.

Bailey was ordered to pay the multi-million euro legal costs associated with the case. A stay had been put on the costs order pending the outcome of this appeal.

In a separate case on Monday, the courts refused to extradite Bailey to France for questioning over the film-maker’s murder. The French authorities want to question him over the death.

It is the second time extradition has been refused – with the first refused by the Supreme Court in Dublin in 2012.

As he left the extradition hearing, Bailey expressed sympathy for Toscan du Plantier’s family.

“I know they believe, for whatever reasons, that I had something to do with the death of their daughter and I’m very sympathetic. But I had nothing to do with it,” he said.

Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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