Date for damages claim opposition

The State’s bid to prevent Jules Thomas, partner of Ian Bailey, proceeding with her action for damages relating to her alleged wrongful arrest by gardaí investigating the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier will be heard in the High Court in the autumn.

Mr Justice John Hedigan said yesterday the application by the State can go ahead on October 6.

The judge said he will decide on that day-long hearing on the legal issue of whether the case by Ms Thomas was statute barred.

Mr Justice Hedigan directed that there should be no further requests for discovery of documents until the issue was decided.

He said he would not like any further costs to be incurred until the preliminary issue was determined in October.

Paul O’Higgins SC, for the State, had requested that all requests for discovery of documents by Ms Thomas’s side be stalled until after the determination on the issue of whether the case was statute barred.

Counsel told the court the State had been asked in a letter to discover documents in eleven different categories.

In April, lawyers for the Garda Commissioner and State had indicated that they intended to apply to have Ms Thomas’s claim for wrongful arrest on dates in 1997 and 2000 struck out on grounds it was brought outside the applicable six year legal time limit.

The State had made a similar application in Mr Bailey’s damages case. That application was made in late March, towards the end of the hearing of Mr Bailey’s 64-day action for damages, and was granted by Mr Justice Hedigan.

He permitted Mr Bailey’s claim that gardaí conspired to implicate him in the murder of Ms du Plantier to go to the jury for consideration. The jury unanimously dismissed the claim.

The judge later directed that Mr Bailey must pay the costs of the action which legal sources estimate could be as high as €5m.

Ms du Plantier was found dead near Schull, West Cork, in December 1996.

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