Ian Bailey in dispute with Netflix documentary makers

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork was released today and made by Netflix and production company, Lightbox.
Ian Bailey in dispute with Netflix documentary makers

Ian Bailey. File picture: RollingNews.ie

Ian Bailey has said he has written to the makers of a documentary about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, saying they did not have permission to use an interview he did with them.

Sophie: A Murder in West Cork was released today and made by Netflix and production company, Lightbox.

It is one of two documentaries on the subject to have been released this month, the first being Sky’s Murder At The Cottage by Jim Sheridan.

Ian Bailey features in both, but he has said that he only cooperated with the Sky piece.

Speaking about the Netflix documentary, he told Newstalk Breakfast: “I think it is a piece of self-serving, demonising propaganda,” based on the clips he has seen of it.

He said that in 2017, he “reluctantly” agreed to give a brief interview “as a tease for a Netflix production”.

Mr Bailey said that he informed the people that he was contractually connected to the Sky series and said that he was never going to cooperate fully with a Netflix production.

He said he signed a release form but there was a second release “that had to be signed by the manned owner of where the interview was conducted, my former partner Jules Thomas.

“And she refused to sign it.

“So I wrote to Simon Chinn [of Lighbox] and emailed him saying that they had no permission to use the interview they had done with me on the Prairie.” 

Mr Bailey confirmed that he did not receive a fee from Netflix.

Comparing it to the Sky documentary, Mr Bailey said: “I think the thing about the Jim doc, was that Jim undertook to make an objective documentary.

“All I can see from the Netflix production, there’s very little objectivity in it. It’s written from a biased slant.” 

He said he wrote to Netflix on Saturday saying that he didn’t want the interview that had been recorded as a tease to be included in it.

When asked if he was going to take legal action, he said he was going to “refer it to my legal people and should they think there is a case, they will advise me on that”.

Following a request for comment, Netflix said: “We’re confident that all the necessary agreements were in place.”

Lightbox has also been contacted for comment.

Speaking to The Irish Times, the Netflix show's director John Dower said they sought the blessing of Ms Toscan du Plantier's family but they had no editorial control.

“We set out to make this film with the blessing of Sophie’s family, very deliberately and this is not just a line but all of us on the team felt this, in true crime so often the victim is always an afterthought, is passive," he said

“And so we wanted to tell Sophie’s story properly so we very deliberately sought access to Sophie’s family and they gave us that access so we have private home movie footage of her growing up and footage of her in Schull.

“We are making this film with the family, we are not making it for the family, they have no editorial control over it but we were making it with their point of view in mind and that becomes clear particularly in the final episode.”

Sophie Toscan du Plantier was killed in December 1996 but no one in Ireland has ever been charged with her murder.

In 2019, Mr Bailey was found guilty of the murder of the filmmaker when tried in absentia by a court in France.

He has never been charged in Ireland and has always maintained his innocence, describing the French case as a show trial that was designed to find him guilty.

The High Court ruled that Mr Bailey could not be extradited to France in 2020.

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