Friday, October 14, 2005

Legal roundup

A couple of legal stories that we want to note. Almost two years ago, we blogged a few times about the case of Ian Bailey, an Englishman living in West Cork and "person of interest" in the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, wife of a well-known film director. Our tone then shared in the general presumption that Bailey did it, it just couldn't be proven to the satisfaction of a prosecution. Well, Friday's Irish Times reports (subs. req'd) that a principal witness has retracted her statements against him:

Marie Farrell (42) had been a witness for newspapers defending themselves against a libel action taken by English journalist Ian Bailey who claimed he was defamed by the papers linking him to the murder of Ms Toscan du Plantier in Schull in west Cork.

Ms Farrell told Bailey's libel action in December 2003 that she had seen him at Kealfadda Bridge outside Schull at 3am on December 23rd, 1996, the night Ms Toscan du Plantier was murdered approximately a mile away at her holiday home at Toormore, Schull.

Ms Farrell had been subpoenaed by the newspapers after they obtained access to the Garda file into the murder and obtained statements that she had made to gardaí alleging that she saw Bailey at Kealfadda Bridge and later recognised him on the street in Schull.

But Ms Farrell contacted Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, in March this year and over the course of several interviews with him, she has stated that statements she made to gardaí implicating Bailey were incorrect

Now we could go a second round here, as others are surely doing, and say "ah well, sure the gardai knew they had their man and maybe juiced up the witness statements a little bit to get it nice and tidy." But that's already much too far down the slippery slope than we would want to be, especially so soon after the evolving knowledge about what happened to Jean Charles de Menezes in July. So for now, we'll just STFU about Ian Bailey, who is, as he always was, innocent till proven guilty, and not even officially a suspect.

We also want to note the bizarre arrest of Worker's Party president Sean Garland, from Navan, County Meath, in Belfast, on foot of an extradition request from the US in connection with the distribution of fake $100 bills in a conspiracy with North Korea (multiple links, as always for these things, from Slugger O'Toole). The allegations in this case have floated around since the late 1990s, so it's not clear what sped things up now. It does add to the set of extradition headaches facing the British and Irish governments.

After hearing the initial details, we had to trace through memories of the arcane history of the IRA to recall what the Workers Party actually is ... essentially one descendant of the late 1960s Official IRA. There's something appropriate about Garland (allegedly) staying true to the old Nationalist-Leninist tradition -- revolution through debasement of the currency, with a little personal enrichment along the way. One wonders though if the North Koreans lost interest in undermining the dollar when they realised that Dubya's fiscal policies were doing their work for them.

UPDATE: Follow-up report on the Bailey case from RTE. And we added a qualifier (in bold) to our Garland commentary to keep it consistent with that on Bailey.
Further reporting on the Bailey case from the Sunday Times, a story which includes a couple of ill-advised sentences -- they might be hearing from Bailey again. The ST also has a story on the Republic's reluctance to extradite to the US, in the context of the Sean Garland case -- but something which, as we have argued before, the NatWest Three and Ian Norris should keep in mind.

No comments: