French request to see Ian Bailey extradition submissions 'unprecedented', say lawyers

French request to see Ian Bailey extradition submissions 'unprecedented', say lawyers
Ian Bailey pictured outside the High Court earlier this year. 

French authorities have made an “unprecedented” and “unorthodox" request to view the legal submissions on Ian Bailey's objections to his extradition there, the High Court has heard.

Mr Bailey is facing a 25-year prison sentence for the murder of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier and a three-day hearing where he will contest the request for his surrender was today scheduled to commence before the High Court on July 15.

Ronan Munro SC with Marc Thompson BL, for Mr Bailey, said the legal submissions were very close to finalisation and came to around 40 pages in length.

He would need around two weeks to finalise them, he added.

However, Mr Munro explained that a request had been received from French authorities to view the submissions from both the State and Mr Bailey ahead of the extradition hearing.

He noted that the issuing of such documents seemed to be outside the statutory procedure.

Mr Munro further stated that he was not aware of any “free-wheeling” statutory right which the issuing State had to ask for this.

“I can say to the court with confidence that it is an unorthodox application but the court is well able to deal with it,” he said.

Counsel for the Minister for Justice, Leo Mulrooney BL, said two letters, dated March 18 and April 14, have been received from the French authorities. These were handed into the court.

Mr Justice Paul Burns said they seemed to be letters from the French authorities requesting submissions from both parties, which was nothing to do with the court.

However, Mr Mulrooney said that the Minister for Justice would not release the submissions without a ruling from the court.

The case was listed for mention next Monday and Mr Justice Burns said he would need to hear legal argument concerning the matter.

The judge said the Minister for Justice could decide what his position was in relation to the request in the meantime.

Mr Munro said he had reservations about the request and he wanted the proper statutory provisions followed.

“In my experience it is unprecedented. I can't think of a case where an executing State has sought this,” he added.

In reply, Mr Justice Burns said that although "this certainly had not happened before" it did not mean that it was not allowed.

Mr Bailey was not present in court for today's list management procedure.

He is not required to attend court next Monday and was remanded on continuing bail until July 15.

Last February, the High Court fixed May 5 as the start-date for the three-day hearing but it was adjourned due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The President of the High Court previously gave a general practice direction that only urgent business should be dealt with to minimise the number of people attending court.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier 
Sophie Toscan du Plantier 

This is the third time French authorities are seeking Mr Bailey’s surrender in relation to the death of Ms du Plantier, whose badly beaten body was found outside her holiday home in Schull in December 1996.

The 63-year-old Englishman, with an address at The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, west Cork, was convicted of the French woman’s murder in his absence in a Paris court in May 2019.

The three-judge Cour d’Assises in Paris accordingly imposed a 25-year prison sentence on Mr Bailey in his absence.

He was arrested at the Criminal Courts of Justice Building in December last year and remanded on bail after a High Court judge endorsed the third European Arrest Warrant seeking his extradition to France.

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