The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has begun an inquiry into a complaint from Ian Bailey over the Garda investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Mr Bailey claims the investigation into the French film-maker’s murder in Schull, Co Cork in 1996 was flawed and prejudiced against him from the start.
He also alleges gardaí tried to have political pressure applied on the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge him, despite the DPP already having ruled there was insufficient evidence for a charge.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has confirmed the complaint has been made by Mr Bailey and the commission has accepted it for investigation. "I believe that it is clearly desirable that these matters be investigated in the public interest and that the Ombudsman Commission is the appropriate body to do so,” the Minister said.
The commission was established in 2005 to investigate complaints against gardaí. However, it can open investigations into issues that arose long before its establishment once it believes it is in the public interest to do so.
The complaint from Mr Bailey is now likely to begin a protracted and complex investigation by the commission into the Garda’s handling of the investigation into the murder and the force’s subsequent allegedly prejudiced treatment of Mr Bailey and his partner Jules Thomas.
One woman was arrested for questioning about the murder despite the DPP telling gardaí not to arrest her and despite her never having been a suspect.
The allegation that gardai tried to move the investigation forward by applying political pressure on the DPP is another very serious matter for the commission to examine.
All of these issues were revealed in documentation that came to light during the Supreme Court hearing into Mr Bailey’s appeal against being extradited to France, where the police have now set up their own investigation into the murder.
Mr Bailey’s appeal was upheld yesterday and he will not be extradited.
However, during the case a report compiled by the former DPP Eamon Barnes came to light. It was effectively an appraisal of how the gardaí had run the murder investigation. It was very critical of the Garda and outlined all of the serious concerns that now form the basis of Mr Bailey’s complaint.
When the existence of this report was in November brought to the attention of the Attorney General and Mr Shatter, arrangements were immediately made to furnish it to the legal team representing Mr Bailey at the Supreme Court case that concluded yesterday.
The material was also circulated to all of the other legal teams involved in the case.
Also now under investigation is the issue of how such a significant report by a former DPP did not come to light earlier, particularly when the High Court considered, and granted, the request by the French authorities to have Mr Bailey extradited there.
A statement by the Department of Justice this afternoon confirmed that the non-emergence of the report for so long is now under examination.
“The Minister is consulting with the Attorney General with regard to the matter of the documentation in the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office only first emerging subsequent to the proceedings having been determined in the High Court and only shortly prior to the hearing of the Supreme Court Appeal in which judgments were delivered yesterday,” the statement said.
This is by far the most challenging investigation the GSOC has had to deal with it.Do you think they will be capable of handling such a complex and explosive case with so many issues?