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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family ask for their interviews be removed from new Sky TV documentary


by Sarah Finnan
22nd Jun 2021
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Sophie Toscan du Plantier’s family has requested that their interviews be removed from a new Jim Sheridan documentary that premiered on Sky TV over the weekend.

A new Sophie Toscan du Plantier documentary premiered on Sky over the weekend.  Titled Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie, the project is headed up by Irish director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father), and features snippets from Sophie’s own family. However, they’ve since objected to their inclusion in the project – asking for their interviews to be removed from the five-part docuseries. 

A French documentary maker herself, Sophie was brutally murdered outside her holiday home in West Cork back in 1996. Completely shocking the local and wider community, her death triggered one of the biggest investigations the country had ever seen – but more than two decades on, and very few of the missing pieces have been found. 

Speaking to Sheridan on his RTÉ Radio One show during the week, Brendan O’Connor commented that he thought that the topic was handled very sensitively. Asking him what happened to have made the family change their mind on being included, Sheridan admitted that he’s not quite sure what made them want to retract their interviews. 

“I don’t really know. I think they saw – like you said – I think they saw the footage and thought that it inferred that there was a police hounding of Ian Bailey and that, you know, maybe it raised suspicions that the conclusion reached in the French trial might not have been as sound as it looked.”

An English journalist, Bailey was the first reporter on the scene after Sophie’s death. However, while he was arrested and questioned by Gardaí as a prime suspect twice, he was never charged or faced trial in Ireland. Writing to both Sky and Jim Sheridan to request that their interviews be removed from the series, it’s believed that Sophie’s family were unhappy with how Mr Bailey was portrayed as a victim in the case.

Noting that they probably were upset by having to dig up the past once again, Sheridan continued by saying that “it’s a very difficult decision for them”. “They’re just not in a good place because they’re in grief, they’re maybe emotional. I just don’t know what it would be like.”

Almost a quarter of a century on and her friends and family continue searching for answers to help them find closure. Essentially trapped and not allowed to let her go, this December will mark the 25th anniversary of Sophie’s death. According to The Irish Times, Sophie’s family agreed to the project on the basis that it was about “finding justice” – something they feel wasn’t achieved in the final product which “rather aims to demonstrate the innocence of Ian Bailey” instead. 

“They’re stuck in this awful pain,” Sheridan said, later adding that once such a tragedy occurs, it’s easy for people to momentarily lose faith in God or the world. “It goes deeper than logic and it goes deeper than normal emotions. It gets into the spiritual basis of your very existence.”

Pointing out that the family had given their written consent to be included in the series, Sky TV has agreed to remove both their interviews and the photos of her body at the scene out of respect for Sophie.

Netflix has also made their own documentary looking into the matter. Taking the form of a three-part docuseries, it will land on the online streaming platform at the end of this month but you can watch the full trailer here while you wait.

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