Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey did not make a "fraudulent" compensation claim against a Dublin hotel but did sign an affidavit that "overstated the impact of her injuries on her running", Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.
Mr Varadkar commissioned an internal Fine Gael inquiry into the controversy, which stemmed from Ms Bailey falling from a swing in the Dean Hotel on Harcourt Street in 2015.
The report, carried out by David Kennedy SC, will not be published but Mr Varadkar said Mr Kennedy's inquiry confirmed Ms Bailey "sustained painful injuries and incurred significant medical bills as a result".
“The accident happened and the injuries were real and were confirmed by medical reports,” a statement from the Taoiseach said. “The inquiry states that it was not a fraudulent claim.”
Mr Varadkar said that Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan, who is a solicitor, "gave initial legal advice". Ms Bailey engaged Madigan Solicitors, Ms Madigan's family firm.
"Minister Madigan (then a backbench TD) gave initial legal advice, guidance and assisted Deputy Bailey with her Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) application. This was a preliminary step which often results in amicable resolution but the hotel did not engage with the PIAB. Minister Madigan did not deal with the subsequent legal proceedings. These were dealt with by another solicitor in the firm who acted on Deputy Bailey's instructions.
“She was advised that she had a ‘statable’ case. However, there were concerns that a finding of contributory negligence against her was likely and this was communicated to her on several occasions.”
However, the Taoiseach added that Ms Bailey signed an affidavit, linked to a personal injuries summons, that “overstated the impact of her injuries on her running”.
“The inquiry concludes that it is unlikely that a court would conclude that she deliberately sought to mislead as other legal documents talk about her running being restricted rather than not being able to run at all.”
Ms Bailey ran a 10km run three weeks after the incident in the Dean Hotel. The Taoiseach said he could not reconcile “inconsistencies” in Ms Bailey’s “accounts to me and the media”.
“It is clear to me that Deputy Bailey made numerous errors of judgment in her handling of this matter from the outset, during and even after she’d withdrawn the case. And her approach jars with that of a Government taking action to reduce personal injury payments, claims and insurance costs to people and businesses.”
In a separate statement, Ms Bailey said she “regretted very much that I took the case”.
“I note that the report by David Kennedy SC has found that this was not a fraudulent claim, and that it would be unlikely that a court would conclude that there was any attempt to mislead on my part. I made no attempt to mislead.
“I recognise and regret the difficulties this issue caused for the Taoiseach and my colleagues during the recent elections. I want to express sincere thanks to members of my family, friends and colleagues who have been personally supportive of me during this recent period.”
She said she accepted the decision to remove her as committee chair. Press Up, the group that owns the Dean Hotel, declined to comment.