Varadkar interviewed by Garda over leaked GP contract

Tánaiste met gardaí by appointment on April 9th, indicating inquiry is close to conclusion

Mr Varadkar has insisted his legal advice has always been that he did not break the law in sharing the document.  File photograph: Julien Behal

Mr Varadkar has insisted his legal advice has always been that he did not break the law in sharing the document. File photograph: Julien Behal

 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has been interviewed by detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation about the leaking of a confidential document to his friend Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail.

Mr Varadkar was interviewed on Friday, April 9th and Dr Ó Tuathail has also been interviewed by investigating gardaí, though not in the same date as the Tánaiste. Both men were interviewed under caution and neither was arrested.

They made appointments with gardaí to be interviewed, which is a common practice in many criminal investigations.

When Mr Varadkar was spoken to a long series of questions about the case were put to him.

The investigation is into a complaint made to the Garda over the leak of a new GP (general practitioner) contract in April 2019.

The fact that the leak occurred is not in doubt as Mr Varadkar has accepted he leaked the document.

However, it remains unclear whether it was a criminal offence, with the Garda investigation focused on that matter and gathering up evidence to submit to the DPP for a decision on that issue.

Mr Varadkar leaked a confidential copy of a proposed new GP contract to his friend Dr Ó Tuathail.

The contract contained details of the deal the government had provisionally agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO). At the time Dr Ó Tuathail was president of the National Association of GPs (NAGP), a rival organisation representing GPs that is now defunct.

Mr Varadkar apologised for his actions in the Dáil, and survived a Sinn Féin vote of no confidence, after the leak was first disclosed by Village magazine last year. He insisted he had not broken the law, and defended his actions by saying he had circulated the contract to encourage NAGP members to agree to it.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar on Sunday said: “The Tánaiste met the gardaí voluntarily by appointment earlier this month.

“He made a full statement and answered all questions. On advice the Tánaiste cannot say anything further until the investigation is complete. He has made a full account to the Dáil on this matter and looks forward to it being concluded.”

Dr Ó Tuathail said he was making no comment at this time.

Mobile phones

Both Mr Varadkar and Dr Ó Tuathail were asked by gardaí to surrender their mobile phones, which they did, and contact phone data between them in the period before and after the document changed hands has been reviewed by the Garda investigation team.

More than a dozen witnesses have been interviewed to date. It was expected both men would be interviewed as they are the main figures of interest in the investigation.

The fact they have been interviewed signals the investigation is close to conclusion and that a file being prepared for the DPP could be sent for consideration within weeks.

In many Garda investigations the key persons of interest are interviewed last, or very close to the end of an investigation, so gardaí can put to them all the evidence and allegations gathered from other witnesses.

The DPP’s office will review the file and decide if criminal charges should be pursued against Mr Varadkar and anyone else whose actions had been scrutinised during the investigation.

Gardaí are not obliged to recommend in their file for the DPP whether criminal charges should be pursued or not.

In some cases, a file containing all of the evidence and statements gathered is submitted to the DPP, with no recommendation either way about charges, and the decision to pursue charges is left wholly to the DPP’s office.

Mr Varadkar has insisted his legal advice has always been that he did not break the law in sharing the document.

In reply to queries, Garda Headquarters on Sunday morning said: “An Garda Síochána does not comment on ongoing investigations or on named individuals.”