GSOC's Ian Bailey report due in weeks

A long-awaited GSOC report into the garda investigation of journalist Ian Bailey is due to be published in the next three weeks.

The report, expected to be one of the longest GSOC has ever produced, will engulf the Garda Síochána in fresh controversy at a time of renewed crisis surrounding Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.

The Irish Examiner understands the Garda Ombudsman report, which has been bedevilled with delays and was supposed to be published last February, will now be published within the coming three weeks.

It is thought the director of investigations is completing final checks on the report.

GSOC launched a probe in February 2012 after Mr Bailey lodged a complaint alleging garda misconduct in their investigation into the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Schull, West Cork in December 1996.

Mr Bailey told the Irish Examiner that he had no idea when the report was going to be published and that he was very dissatisfied with the progress of the GSOC investigation.

“I can confirm I’ve written to GSOC for the second time this year for a progress report on the investigation into my complaint and when I am likely to receive it,” he said.

“Not having received a satisfactory response to the second letter, I submitted a Freedom of Information application, which has been refused and which I intend to appeal to the Information Commissioner.”

Mr Bailey said he could not understand the delays in finalising the report. He was also unhappy he was not getting sight of the report, and to respond, before it is published.

The five-year investigation was delayed by a series of issues including:

  • Access to garda documentation;
  • Interviewing of up to 30 witnesses;
  • Securing copies of the Bandon Tapes (recordings of phone calls relating to the du Plantier investigation at the Cork garda station);
  • A High Court case taken by Mr Bailey and changes to the three-person leadership of the Garda Ombudsman.

A request from French authorities for the extradition of Mr Bailey to face trial for the murder of Ms du Plantier is currently going through the High Court.

It is understood that GSOC is mindful of the extradition hearing and want to have their report available before the High Court proceedings begin in earnest.

GSOC decided at the start of the new year not to send its file to the Director of Public Prosecutions, ruling out any possibility of criminal charges against any serving or retired gardaí.

This was a change from the position a year previously — when it was also due for completion and due to be sent to the DPP.

It is thought that the watchdog, having reviewed the file, decided there was insufficient evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing.

Given that most of the gardaí involved in the investigation are either deceased or retired, it is not clear if any disciplinary proceedings will result from the publication of the GSOC report.

It is unusual for GSOC to publish a report into a complaint, but it is thought that the chair Judge Mary Ellen Ring believed it would be in the public interest.

Without indicating when, a GSOC spokeswoman said “an entire report” would be published, but the level of detail had not yet been decided.

She said while the complainant would get a copy of the report, complainants, or others, will not be able to respond before publication.

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