Belfast Telegraph

Man denies enjoying media attention

A former journalist who claims detectives tried to frame him for the unsolved murder of a French film maker has denied celebrating being the focus of media attention.

Ian Bailey, 57, told the High Court in Dublin he has no recollection of a diary entry from June 30 1997 which said "Back in print. Hip, hip, hurray."

The note followed an article in the Sunday Independent after a journalist spent several days with him in west Cork months after his first arrest over the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The 39-year-old producer was found beaten to death on a hillside near her remote holiday home in Toormore on the morning of Monday December 23 1996 - two days before Christmas.

Mr Bailey, a former reporter born in Manchester who lived and worked in the Cheltenham area before moving to Ireland more than 23 years ago, denies any involvement in the killing and was never charged.

He is suing the Irish state for wrongful arrest during the murder investigation.

The diary entry shown to the court followed a feature article on Mr Bailey after reporter Brighid McLaughlin spent several days with him.

Mr Bailey was shown the note but disputed it was his writing after initially accepting it was from one of his journals.

"This is a page from one of my diaries that I would say was seized, taken illegally, but have managed to get into the proceedings," he said.

"I'm not actually sure that 'Back in print. Hip, hip, hurray' does not look like my writing. The B is formed strangely.

"That does not actually look to me like I made it, it might be, maybe it is."

Mr Bailey added: "I can't recollect writing that."

The diary entry also came two days after Mr Bailey had a meeting with shopkeeper Marie Farrell in her ice cream parlour in Schull.

The court heard she had intimated to him days earlier in the Galley Inn in the town that she had information on why he was a suspect in the murder case.

During his seventh day in the witness box in court three of the Four Courts, Mr Bailey rejected assertions that he derived satisfaction from being a suspect in the early weeks of the Toscan du Plantier murder inquiry in 1997.

"I was deriving some satisfaction in that I was fulfilling my professional brief," he said.

"I was working as a professional journalist. Obviously I was enjoying that but no, I reject that proposition."

The court was also told detail of several grounds for Mr Bailey's second arrest on his birthday on January 27 1998 which were confirmed in a court document.

Under Irish law a person can only be arrested for a second time over the same offence after a judge agrees to a warrant.

Mr Bailey, from Prairie Cottage, Liscaha, Schull, also repeated in court his claims that there had been an attempt to frame him.

"There was an intention to put me in the frame for want of a better way of putting it," he told the jury.

"We know that for whatever reason I was chosen and then they tried to create the evidence to put me in the frame."

Mr Bailey also told the court he knew the names of five other suspects in the Toscan du Plantier murder inquiry before his first arrest.

He was also questioned at one point on whether he owned sticks and whether he gave them names like Moon stick and Dream stick.

Denying the unusual practice, Mr Bailey said: "I wonder where that one has come from."

The lawsuit is being heard in front of a jury of eight men and four women.

Mr Bailey was arrested twice in connection with the murder of Mme Toscan du Plantier, first on February 10 1997 and again in January 1998.

Almost 20 years on from the killing of Mme Toscan du Plantier, Mr Bailey is suing the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Justice and the Attorney General for wrongful arrest and a series of other alleged failings in the murder investigation.

The State denies all claims.

The hearing is set to run for several more weeks.

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