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time was right Ian Bailey writes first account of Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder arrest

Former journalist says articles for Ireland's Big Issue may be 'first step' on road to his autobiography

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Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey is to write his first ever personal account of the events leading up to his arrest by gardaí investigating the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder - and has said it will likely result in him writing an autobiography.

Mr Bailey, who has consistently protested his innocence over the 1996 killing of the French film executive, revealed he is to write a series of biographical articles for Ireland's Big Issue magazine.

The first in the series of articles is scheduled to appear in the magazine tomorrow.

It represents the first time in 25 years he has written about the events before and after December 23, 1996, when the body of the French mother-of-one was found on a laneway leading to her isolated holiday home at Toormore outside Schull in west Cork. She had been savagely beaten to death.

Mr Bailey was arrested by gardaí in both 1997 and 1998 but was released without charge on both occasions.

The DPP ruled in 2000/2001 that the Manchester-born freelance journalist and poet had no case to answer.

Mr Bailey has consistently protested his innocence - and insisted that sinister attempts were made to frame him for the crime.

While he has written two volumes of poetry, he has never before written about his experiences since 1996.

"I was approached by [Ireland's] Big Issue about writing for them. I thought the time was right to do so and agreed," he said.

"It will most likely be a series of four lengthy articles. The first will deal with my back story, growing up in England and my work as a journalist there."

He said the second article - which may extend to 3,000 words - will deal with his decision to move to Ireland and will end with "a cliffhanger" in December 1996.

The final two articles will then deal with the events since December 1996 which, Mr Bailey said, had rendered his life "a living nightmare" and had seen him wrongly associated with the crime.

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He said he had been "bonfired" over the years by wrongful association with the case.

"I have been approached numerous times over the years by publishers about writing a book on my experiences," Mr Bailey said.

"I have consistently refused. I would not accept any advances because, the minute I accept an advance, I find that my creative spirit is dissipated."

However, Mr Bailey admitted the Ireland's Big Issue articles could result in him agreeing to write a book about his life story.

"It may well be the first step on the road to my autobiography, yes," he said.

Mr Bailey said he had supplied personal photographs for use with the articles - many of which have never been published before.

"I had started writing what I suppose was my autobiography a few years ago but stopped. Maybe the time is right now?" he added.

The revelation about the articles came after French President Emmanuel Macron proposed a new trial in Paris if Mr Bailey agreed to travel to France.

RTÉ's The Late Late Show is also expected to feature an interview with Sophie Toscan du Plantier's son, Pierre Louis Baudey-Vignaud, in its opening show of the new season.

Mr Bailey was tried in absentia by a French court in May 2019 and was convicted of Ms du Plantier's killing.

Mr Bailey refused to acknowledge the hearing, which he described as "a show trial" and "a mockery of justice".

The Paris court sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

However, the Irish courts have on three separate occasions refused to extradite Mr Bailey to France.

Mr Bailey's solicitor, Frank Buttimer, rejected any question of his client agreeing to travel to France or recognise any new French trial.

"Absolutely - there are no circumstances in which Mr Bailey (will travel to France)," he said.

"Firstly, that (anyone) would have thought he got any kind of fair trial (in 2019) and, secondly, that if he were to go to France as what President Macron described as 'the condemned man' - the idea of Mr Bailey going to France to get a fair trial is nonsense. Total nonsense."

Mr Macron had asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin during a meeting to see what more could be done for the family of Ms du Plantier, who are still awaiting justice almost 25 years after her brutal murder.

The Taoiseach pointed out that politicians cannot interfere in the judicial process in Ireland - but described the killing as having a terrible legacy for Irish society.

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