SINEAD O’Connor last night claimed she felt threatened by murder suspect Ian Bailey, describing him as “a different story” after five hours drinking.
But the former journalist hit back and said the Nothing Compares 2 U singer’s allegations about their meeting were “absolute bulls***”.
An extraordinary war of words broke out between the unlikely duo after they were snapped having lunch in Cork this week.
Sinead travelled down to interview the prime suspect in the unsolved murder of French filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier for her Sunday newspaper column.
Bailey has always denied any involvement in her murder and vigorously protested his innocence.
But she reacted furiously after Bailey, 64, claimed they had discussed his poetry and the possibility of turning them in to songs.
Speaking to the Irish Sun about her “frightening” experience, she explained: “Ian Bailey is charming sober — but drunk, for a woman, he is frightening.
“The man I met at lunch was a different story to the man I met five hours later with a pile of drink on him.”
Asked if she felt frightened in his company, Sinead told us: “I can certainly see how someone other than myself would have felt very threatened.”
But Manchester-born writer Ian insisted: “I strongly disagree with Sinead’s version of events. I was very calm and measured during our meeting but I did get very irritated by her long, rambling questions.”
The West Cork-based poet also denied claims by Sinead that he had hit the roof after the singer-turned-reporter put five specific questions to him about the murder of Sophie — which Bailey has always strenuously denied.
O’Connor told us: “There were five questions I wanted to ask Bailey that no one had asked before.
“They worked because when I asked them, Bailey got panicky very quickly. In fact, he freaked out, lost his s***.”
SERIES OF QUESTIONS
According to the Irish singing icon, she put a series of questions to the self-confessed suspect during their lengthy meeting.
Sinead said she asked Ian: “What do you think should happen to the person who killed Sophie?
“What would he say to that person or persons? What would he say to Sophie?
“Why has he never made a public appeal for the real killers to come forward, and not engaged with finding a killer?
“And would he like to make a public appeal for the real killers to come forward?”
She continued: “What I found most interesting was his reaction the question, ‘what should happen to the person who did it’.
“When you hammer this person (Bailey) about it, that was the most interesting.
“I wanted to see face-to-face how he would answer — not in terms of words — but how he would physically change or his mood if these five questions were put to him.
“Ian Bailey became quite aggressive, quite threatening.”
‘CUT TO THE CHASE’
But quizzed on Sinead’s allegations, Bailey gave a very different view of the interview, claiming she had a lot to learn as an interviewer and needed to “cut to the chase” when asking questions.
He told the Irish Sun: “Sinead told me it was her first interview, so I ended up tutoring her on how to do it.
“She kept asking these rambling questions, I kept asking her to break it down into single questions.
“Sometimes six questions in one question. If it was anyone else, I would have walked out.”
The poet claims that Sinead had initially contacted him after hearing his poetry on the Audible book, A John Wayne State Of Mind, and was keen to purchase a hard copy of an early book of poems The West Cork Way, with a view to turning it into a song.
But O’Connor furiously denied this and snapped: “Of course I am not writing songs with Ian Bailey.”
She said this was totally incorrect and “shameless”, adding: “He is someone I would describe as ‘too stupid not to be clever’.”
While Sinead claimed she never wanted to see Bailey again following their encounter, the former journalist claimed that his prolonged interview with the Dublin singer and her “rambling questions” was the latest indignity he’s had to endure since he featured in two major documentaries on the Sophie case.
He also said there was video proof that he was not threatening in any way during the meeting, after which he recorded a video appeal for anyone with information about the murder to come forward.
Bailey continued: “I feel like I am just a bone to be chewed at the moment.
“It’s like being on a bucking bronco, 18 hours a day.
“I am having to relocate. I am getting refused in some restaurants. I am dealing with the s*** . . . I have a heart”.
He added that as an experienced journalist who often contributed to both The Sunday Times and The Sunday Tribune, and ran a news agency in the UK, he had tried to offer Sinead advice on her new career as a writer.
He explained: “After the interview I asked Sinead if I could critique her.
She said, ‘Yes, please do Ian’. I stress that Sinead is only learning as a reporter.
“It was her first foray into a craft I am trained in, and I was her first interviewee.
“So, then I said, ‘Sinead, I am your first pedagogical interview’ and Sinead said ‘What the f*** does that mean ?
“So I explained that pedagogical meant that I was teaching her interviewing.
“I was extremely tolerant. If anyone else had asked the questions she was asking me, I would have wrapped the interview up very quickly.”
‘SHE HAS POTENTIAL’
Bailey said that Sinead had repeatedly quizzed him on what would he would say to those responsible for murdering Sophie.
Ian added: “I told her I had no idea if those responsible were even still alive.
“Sinead is just beginning a new career and just needs to stop asking long, rambling questions. But bless her, she has potential.
“She will be after everyone’s job.”
The Irish Sun revealed earlier this week that Bailey had spent over €1,000 recording an audio version of his poetry collection at the home of his ex-partner Jules, using a professional sound engineer.
He told us: “I sold out of my poetry books at Bantry market last week. People ask me to sign them and give them as presents.
“I sell a few books of my poetry on Amazon — I would have thought I’d have sold more lately, but apparently I haven’t.
“But this was a recent decision of mine to do an Audible version, to make sure there is an audio version of my poems for posterity.”