— vivienne traynor (@viviennetraynor) December 11, 2014
Earlier: Meanwhile, At The High Court
Marie Farrell arriving at the High Court earlier this month for Ian Bailey’s civil action against the State
— vivienne traynor (@viviennetraynor) December 11, 2014
— Dearbhail McDonald (@DearbhailDibs) December 11, 2014
Who was the man in the car? That’s the question that led Marie Farrell to walk out of #IanBailey legal action. She refused to identify him
— Dearbhail McDonald (@DearbhailDibs) December 11, 2014
Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
Marie Farrell arriving at the High Court on Wednesday
Marie Farrell in tears in High Court. Says Gardai bullied her children when she withdrew false statements against Ian Bailey. More at 12.30
— Geraldine Lynagh (@GerLynaghTV3) December 5, 2014
“Marie Farrell has said her teenage children were punished by gardaí after she admitted making false statements about Ian Bailey. The shopkeeper from Schull, Co Cork has told the High Court she met with the journalist 9 years ago to apologise for the claims she had made about him during the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder investigation.
“Her garda statements place the 57-year-old on a bridge near the scene early on December 23, 1996. An emotional Marie Farrell said her 13-year-old son was followed around Schull by a garda who told him: ‘I’ll do you’.
Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
Marie Farrell took the stand today at Ian Bailey’s civil action against the State for framing him for the unsolved murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork in 1996
[Ms] Farrell said she was contacted by gardaí in the middle of February  and asked if she would now make a statement. She agreed.
She said she went to Ballydehob Garda Station on 14 February after work.
She had originally been told gardaí would need only a two-line statement but at the garda station she said they told her they would need more detail.
She said she told them she was in a hurry. They asked her to sign a few pages and said they would work it out.
She said she thought they were just writing out that the man she had seen at a local bridge was Mr Bailey and said she did not give it a lot of thought.
She said she signed four or six or eight blank page. The statement identifies Mr Bailey as the man Ms Farrell saw.
She said she had not made it and the man was not Mr Bailey.
Previously: Marie Farrell: ‘Why I Lied About Ian Bailey’
(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)
Yesterday, John Burke discussed a statement that Marie Farrell gave to gardaí in 2006 with Colm Ó Mongáin on RTÉ’s This Week. In the statement Ms Farrell alleges that she was put under “intense pressure” by gardaí to implicate Ian Bailey for the 1996 death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.
Mr Bailey was arrested twice in relation to the murder investigation – in February 1997 and January 1998 – and released without charge on both occasions.
He’s now suing the State alleging wrongful arrest.
John Burke: “Marie Farrell was a local shopkeeper in the village of Schull in West Cork around the time Ms Du Plantier was killed at her holiday home nearby. Ms Farrell came to Garda attention shortly after the French woman’s murder when she rang Bandon Garda Station anonymously and said that she saw a man late at night on a road near the murder scene. She didn’t give her name as on the night in question, she claims to have been with a man who was not her husband and she was concerned her husband would find out. Now gardaí subsequently tracked her down and it was from this point onwards that one guard in particular began to ring her constantly about the case, she says. She’s claimed that she came under pressure from gardaí early on in the investigation, to wrongly identify the man that she had seen on the road that night as Ian Bailey, an Englishman who was living locally.”
Colm Ó Mongáin: “So, from the beginning, they were lots of phone calls. What level of detail does she give in her version of these conversations?”
Burke: “Well in this statement, Marie Farrell claims that during January and February of 1997, she was coming under intense pressure to name Ian Bailey in a statement, as the man she saw near the murder scene. One garda, she says, was ringing daily, sometimes several times a day, to discuss a possible statement. She said that the tone of the calls were not nasty at this time but they were pleading. And she said that the Garda claimed it would take a lot of pressure off him to have this statement about Ian Bailey. She was also being regularly asked whether she had said anything to her husband and she said she had not. Now, she said this garda was very concerned that other gardaí could be suspicious about him making so many calls to her home and to her shop. And she said that he asked her to go to two public telephones – one opposite the Bunratty Pub and one in the east end car park in Schull, and it was on these lines that they discussed the case initially. And then later that month, amid what she called constant pressure, she signed a statement in which she alleged to have recognised Ian Bailey as the man she saw on that night, on the road.”
Ó Mongáin: “Now according to this statement, she also claims to have been given the use of a special phone for the purposes of conducting these discussions with gardaí but not to go mad on it?”
Burke: “Yes, that’s right. Marie Farrell said, in this statement, that this garda gave her a mobile phone. She said he called it a State phone and she recounted the number of that phone in her statement and this number would appear to tally with the numbers of a normal, Garda issue mobile phone. She said he gave her the phone so that if anyone checked outgoing calls, it would look like calls were being made to a Garda rather than to her. And she said that this garda was, to quote her statement, always worried about phonecalls being checked to the extent that even when the Garda in question rang her, on the mobile phone that he gave her, he would cut the calls short and ask her to continue the calls via a public phonebox. She said that she had the use of this Garda mobile phone for around nine months and that she never paid any bills on it. She said he was constantly ringing her, looking for additional statements, relating to what she described as, to quote directly again, fictitious events involving Ian Bailey.”
Ó Mongáin: “Another key witness in this case is Martin Graham. Now Marie Farrell claims to have been rung by a garda who is deeply worried about a negative media report relating to this Martin Graham?”
Burke: “Yes, that’s right. She said that she was out at a family event one Saturday in May 1997 when a garda, who she had been dealing with, rang her and she said the garda was crying and she said that, to quote again directly, that they were “in the shit”. She said that this was a reference to a tabloid newspaper story which he believed was about to be published, relating to allegations that had been made by Martin Graham, who claimed that he was offered cash and drugs in order to obtain information about Ian Bailey and the garda pleaded with her to leave his name out of it if she ended up talking to the media or anyone about this.”
Ó Mongáin: “But that tabloid newspaper story was ultimately never published. What was the issue? Was the issue discussed any further in telephone calls, the issue of this potential story?”
Burke: “It certainly was, she said that the garda rang her sometime later during the summer of 1997 and claimed that gardaí in Dublin had somehow managed to stop this story being published. She said that the garda also told her that gardaí had put pressure on Martin Graham and he was fairly confident that Martin Graham had now gone to England and that he would not be coming back in a hurry. She made this statement in 2006 and her timeline of when this occurred would seem to fit with the same account given by Martin Graham.”
Ó Mongáin: “There’s also an indication that these calls of regular or even constant surveillance being mounted on herself and Ian Bailey?”
Burke: “Yes. Now she said that any time she met Ian Bailey, either this garda or others would ring her almost immediately afterwards to look for a blow-by-blow account of what was said. Interestingly she said that this also occurred after she met with gardaí sent especially down from Dublin to review the handling of the case, on which occasion she said this, or another garda, would ring her immediately to get a debriefing of what the other gardaí in Dublin wanted to know.”
Ó Mongáin: “So from around late December 1996, and certainly, into early 1997, Marie Farrell says she’s receiving constant phonecalls from gardaí in which she’s knowingly asked to give false evidence against Ian Bailey. We know that some calls to and from garda stations were being taped and they’re likely to play a central role in whatever Commission of Inquiry the Government puts into place. Do we know whether these calls were to Bandon?”
Burke: “Well Marie Farrell does make reference to calling Bandon in her statements. Of course we don’t know at this stage what calls were recorded and what particular recordings exist, we know that around three dozen recordings between Marie Farrell and gardaí have been found and they have been transcribed, it’s also likely that many more are yet to emerge.”
Gardaí wouldn’t comment on the claims to RTÉ.
In an interview this evening with Paul Byrne of TV3 news, Maire Farrell, a key witness in the Sophie Toscan du Plantier murder case, claimed she was was forced to perjure herself by Gardai in order to incriminate Ian Bailey.
Paul Byrne: “Why did you make that statement, when you say that you knew it wasn’t Ian Bailey?”
Farrell: “Well, I panicked. Initially, I panicked because I had actually been out that night and I was somewhere where my husband didn’t know I was. I just thought the guards know what they’re talking about, there’s no way they’d say it was Ian Bailey if it wasn’t. And I just thought, I’ll do what they’re saying and that’s the end of it for me.”
Byrne: “So, from 1997 to 2003 when the libel trial took place, you knew or you say you knew that you had made a false statement?”
Farrell: “Well between 1997 and the libel trial I had made, I had signed numerous statements. A lot of them I didn’t even know what was in them, I was just asked to sign statements. I found out afterwards you know that they had been saying Ian Bailey had been harassing me and all sorts of things like that and none of that was true. But the Gardai just kept putting more and more pressure on me. I was just getting in deeper and deeper and it was just like, getting out of control”
Byrne: “Moving along to 2003, the beginning of the libel trial – you received a subpoena to attend, how did you feel about that?”
Farrell: “For the whole week of that trial I kept saying, you know, that I wasn’t going. There was no way I was going to court. But I had certain Gardai ringing me, sometimes three or four times a day telling me that I had to go to the court. My husband was telling me I wasn’t to go. I was adamant I wasn’t going, I told them. There was no way I was going to court and telling lies. But then I got a phone call the day before I appeared at the libel trial, and a garda told me that if I didn’t go an application would be made to the court to have me arrested. He said “You’ll probably be brought there in handcuffs, which is worse.” So he said I had to meet a different garda that morning and that he’d run through everything with me and that I had nothing to worry about, stick to the story and there was nothing to worry about. So the morning that I did appear at the libel trial, I met a garda just outside Cork city. He told me what I had to say, and stick to it, and there would be no problems. When I got up on the stand I was panicking, and I was thinking ‘Will I tell the judge the truth here?’ and then I looked down to the back of the court and there was, you know, the Gardai standing there watching me with their arms folded and I thought, you know ‘I have no way out of this’, but at the same time I couldn’t remember what I was meant to say. So it was a relief then when that was over.”
Byrne: “Why did you go through with it?”
Farrell: “”Because I was being put under so much pressure from the Gardai.”
Byrne: “What was the breaking point for you when you decided to retract your statements? What made you do that?”
Farrell: “I got a phone call from a garda, and we were just talking in general and then he said to me that Sophie’s parents were taking a civil action against Ian Bailey for Sophie’s wrongful death. And he said: ‘You know that’s going to end up in court and you’re going to have to go in there again?’ And I said there is no way that I would ever, ever go to court and tell lies for the guards again. And I said, you know, if you keep pushing me now I’m going to go and see Frank Buttimer [Ian Bailey’s solicitor]. He said: ‘You know, no one is going to be interested in what you have to say.’ And I said, ‘You know, maybe Ian Bailey will be interested?’ And I said I’m going to tell them the whole truth about what happened. And he said “if you go down that road you will never again have a day’s peace as long as you live.”
Byrne: “Can we believe Marie Farrell?”
Farrell: “I know I’m telling you the truth. I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do. I had to come forward and tell the truth. I’ve gone through years of, I don’t know how to say it, harassment? Hardship? And stress. Because of doing the right thing. What I did in 1996, 1997 was stupid. I was naive. I really really thought that the guards could do no wrong.”
Thanks Ellen Coyne