An unnamed senior garda or gardaí allegedly tried to get the state solicitor for West Cork to put political pressure on the DPP to prosecute Ian Bailey for the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, it emerged yesterday.
A Supreme Court judge yesterday noted that the alleged attempt was resisted by the state solicitor for West Cork, Malachy Boohig, who immediately informed the DPP. The documents containing information of the alleged attempt including emails and memos was only disclosed to the Bailey legal team late last year
The materials, dating back to 1998, include copies of emails apparently written by the then DPP Eamonn Barnes and by Mr Boohig, plus a separate memo about the Bailey case written in 2001 by an unnamed official in the DPP’s office.
Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman said the alleged attempt to put pressure on the DPP was made despite a view within the DPP’s office there was no evidence to warrant the prosecution of Mr Bailey.
Mr Justice John Murray said the material, disclosed in autumn 2011, was “of the highest importance” as it emanated from one of the highest law officers in the state, former DPP Eamonn Barnes.
The material was “dramatic and shocking” in its content as it involved Mr Barnes expressing concern Mr Bailey’s surrender was being sought on the basis “of evidence and conclusion provided by what was regarded at the time as a thoroughly flawed and prejudiced Garda investigation culminating in a grossly improper attempt to achieve or even force a prosecutorial decision which accorded with that prejudice”.
Mr Barnes had said he felt, as a matter of ordinary justice, he was obliged to bring that matter to “appropriate attention“, the judge said.
Mr Justice Hardiman noted that, during the hearing of Mr Bailey’s Supreme Court appeal, counsel for the State, Robert Barron SC, made “no comment at all” on the allegation of a Garda attempt to get a politician to intervene with the DPP to have Mr Bailey prosecuted. The State had neither admitted nor denied that.
Outlining the events in his judgment, Mr Justice Hardiman said in Nov 2011, while Mr Bailey’s appeal was pending, the authorities in Ireland wrote to Mr Bailey and enclosed copies of certain newly discovered materials. Mr Justice Hardiman said these reached the Bailey side under cover of two separate letters.
“The first letter enclosed copies of emails which appeared to be written by the former DPP, Eamonn Barnes, and Mr Malachy Boohig, state solicitor for West Cork, and a separate memorandum about this case written by an unnamed offical in the DPP’s office.”
The documents, he added, appeared to record an alleged attempt by an unnamed senior garda or gardaí to procure Mr Boohig to bring political pressure to bear on the independent DPP to prosecute Mr Bailey for the murder of Ms du Plantier.
This alleged attempt, he said, was resisted by Mr Boohig, who immediately informed the DPP who recorded the information as set out.
“Apart from that he preserved silence on the matter and kept it confidential until the last possible moment in Nov 2011,” the judge said.
Under separate cover, the judge said there was disclosed to the Bailey side a document unsigned which was a 44-page analysis of the case of Ms du Plantier produced by the DPP or his office and concluding that ” a prosecution against Bailey is not warranted by the evidence”.
Mr Justice Hardiman said it is most unusual that documents of this sort, internal to the prosecuting and investigating authorities, were disclosed in this fashion.
The judge said it appears the first set of documents were generated when the former DPP sent them or some of them to his successor’s office.
The advice of the Attorney General was then taken and the authorities were advised to disclose the documents to Mr Bailey on the basis of their manifest importance.
All that now needed to be said about the newly disclosed material was that the decision not to prosecute Mr Bailey was based on a detailed view of the evidence put forward by the gardaí, not on technicalities or a preconceived attitude, the judge said. It also appeared the former DPP considered the Garda enquiry into the case was prejudiced against Mr Bailey and flawed.
Mr Justice Hardiman noted that, when seeking to have the issue concerning the new material adjourned in Mr Bailey’s appeal, Mr Barron had said he was doing so at the request of the minister for justice and in the context of what counsel called a “spat” between law enforcement agencies concerning the new material. Counsel had said gardaí “might object” to the contents of the critical review of the Garda investigation into the murder, the judge noted. Mr Barron also said gardaí had the DPP’s review document for over 10 years and had “internally objected” to the document.
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