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Ian Bailey says he was Toscan du Plantier murder suspect because he is English

Ian Bailey arrives at the Four Courts in Dublin Image copyright PA
Image caption Ian Bailey pictured outside the Four Courts in Dublin

A former journalist has told a court he was a suspect in the murder of a French filmmaker because he was English.

Ian Bailey is suing the Irish State for wrongful arrest over the killing of Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

The 57-year-old claimed he was victimised in custody.

He said he was given a black and tan shirt to wear, suggesting a reference to British auxiliary forces dispatched to Ireland during the War of Independence.

Unsolved

"It was not a complaint so much as an observation on the colour," he told the jury at the High Court in Dublin.

"It was a black and tan colouring and I just thought it was possibly a coded message ... because I'm English."

Mme Toscan du Plantier, 39, was found beaten to death on a hillside outside her west Cork holiday home on the morning of Monday 23 December 1996..

Mr Bailey was arrested in February 1997 and again in January 1998 as part of the investigation but never charged.

The former freelance reporter denies any involvement in the unsolved killing.

Giving evidence for a sixth day in his civil action against the state, Mr Bailey said he thought he was being victimised because he was English.

"It was made quite clear to me in the interrogation, if you think an Englishman is coming over here and is going to get away with this," he said.

"It definitely was. There was very strong xenophobia."

Mr Bailey was born in Manchester and brought up from the age of nine in the Gloucester area before embarking on a freelance journalism career in Cheltenham in the 1980s and some spells in London.

He moved to west Cork about 23 years ago.

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found beaten to death in west Cork in 1996

Almost 20 years on from the killing of Mme Toscan du Plantier, Mr Bailey is suing the Garda (police)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.

Blood

The hearing in front of a jury of eight men and four women is set to run for several more weeks.

The court was told that Mr Bailey was in Bandon Garda Station on 10 February 1997 when he alleges the black and tan shirt was given to him.

Mr Bailey was questioned on transcripts of a series of interviews that took place on the day, and police took a blue sweatshirt, a beige jacket, denim jeans and a purple-brown checked shirt from his house, in Liscaha, Schull, west Cork.

The court heard he was told there was blood on the clothes taken from the house and he replied that the tests would clear his name.

Mr Bailey was also asked about discrepancies in his statements to detectives including whether he had got out of bed in the middle of the night when Mme Toscan du Plantier was murdered.

He said it was correct to say he had left his partner, Jules Thomas, in bed at some point in the middle of the night to write.

The interview transcripts noted that Mr Bailey repeatedly denied any involvement in the murder.

The court also heard that Mr Bailey described Mme Toscan du Plantier as "plain" during one police interview.

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