It was reported yesterday that the ombudsman had decided not to send its investigation file to the director of public prosecutions.
This marks an apparent shift in the position from a year ago, when the investigation, which was supposed to have been nearing completion then, was due to be submitted to the DPP.
It is thought that the watchdog, having reviewed the extensive file, decided that there was insufficient evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing by former or current gardaí involved in investigating Mr Bailey.
In the vast majority of criminal investigations — unless there is clearly no evidence of wrongdoing — files are automatically sent to the DPP for consideration.
Some sources suggested that a certain threshold of evidence needs to be reached to warrant sending a file to the DPP.
While the reasons are not clear, it is thought that inconsistencies in and unreliability of key witness evidence may have influenced this decision. Mr Bailey lodged a complaint with GSOC in December 2011 alleging wrongdoing in relation to the investigation of him by gardaí for the murder of the French producer in West Cork in December 1996.
GSOC launched an inquiry in February 2012.
However, the probe was beset by a gamut of issues, including accessing Garda documentation, interviewing up to 30 witnesses, securing copies of the so-called Bandon Tapes (recordings of phonecalls at Bandon Garda Station) and delays caused by the Bailey High Court case against the State for allegedly conspiring to frame him for murder, which he lost in March 2015.
The investigation was supposed to have been nearing completion in August 2015 and was about to undergo a series of internal examinations and reviews. That was delayed pending the appointment of Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring, who took over the position of chair of the three-person commission in September of that year.
It is not known why the review of the file has taken until now to be finalised.
It is understood that relevant parties have been informed of GSOC’s decision. The mammoth file will now be sent to Ian Bailey, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald and Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan.
GSOC intends to publish the report by the end of this month or by mid-February.
This is also a development from last year, when the indications were that it would not be published, because the probe was based on a complaint and was not a public interest investigation.
However, that was in the context that the file would be sent to the DPP.
There is also a belief that because the matter is of wide public interest that it should be published.