Ian Bailey’s solicitor told the High Court yesterday that assurances were given to Marie Farrell she would not be sued, after she contacted him to say she had said untrue things about his client.
Frank Buttimer said those assurances were sought by Ms Farrell sometime after she contacted him in 2005 to say she had said untrue things about Mr Bailey.
Mr Bailey was “extremely grateful” Ms Farrell had “volunteered to tell the truth”, he said. He, as Mr Bailey’s solicitor, had given her a letter, as “a comfort to her” and “a human thing”, assuring her she would not be sued.
Mr Buttimer also agreed he has given many media interviews concerning Mr Bailey’s case.
Mr Bailey had been “fundamentally harmed” by the exposure he had had in the media over the years, Mr Buttimer said. He said he had not sought to use the media to try and influence the outcome of Mr Bailey’s case. “All I’m doing is a court case of some significance in which the media has been intensely interested since the tragic event.”
Mr Buttimer said he had a copy of his note of a 2005 phone conversation with Ms Farrell.
He vividly remembered the call, it was “significant”, and Ms Farrell said she had concerns about the truth of what she said in the libel trial and to gardaí.
The jury has heard Ms Farrell was a shopkeeper in Schull in 1996 who gave evidence against Mr Bailey in his libel actions in 2003 against various media organisations. She has given evidence on behalf of Mr Bailey in his action.
The solicitor said Ms Farrell came to him in 2005 and told him what she wanted to say. He had three actual meetings with her. They were lengthy meetings and a lot was discussed.
His phone contacts were to arrange meetings and he had not taken notes of those calls.
He said Ms Farrell made a significant phone call in April 2005 and indicated she had concerns about the truth of what she had said to gardaí and in court proceedings.
He agreed the call involved a situation where someone may be about to indicate they perjured themselves. He was also concerned whether there was something sinister about this as he had been involved in acrimonious correspondence with Ms Farrell previously.
He took a quick note of the call which was brief, he said. He remembered it vividly and had made a statement regarding it to the McAndrew inquiry — the Garda investigation into complaints made by Mr Buttimer related to the Garda conduct.
His position was Ms Farrell came to him voluntarily to give information and he took at her request. He knew it would have to be dealt with and she would need independent legal advice.
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