Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he does not believe charges will be brought against him after it emerged this month that gardaí upgraded their inquiry into the leak of a new GP contract in April 2019, when he was taoiseach, to a formal investigation.
Gardaí investigating Mr Varadkar’s leak of the contract are expected to submit a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the next two months when the investigation concludes.
Speaking to the Michael Reade Show on LMFM on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar said he has not been contacted yet by gardaí. When asked if he would step aside if formal charges are brought, Mr Varadkar replied that he did not contemplate that happening.
“I have been trying to avoid creating new stories about this issue so that is not something that I am considering, and I don’t believe it is going to happen. What I am saying is it is not going to arise.”
When asked to clarify if he meant that he does not believe charges will be brought against him, he replied: “that is correct.” The Fine Gael leader also said he is learning about the case through “leaks” to the media.
“There has been a lot said about this and a lot of it is not accurate or true. I gave a full account about all of this in the Dáil both in November and January and won a confidence motion in the Dáil. It was not a contract, nor was it a draft contract. It was not a Cabinet document nor a budget secret, so a lot of things said about this are inaccurate or continue to be inaccurate.
“A contract is a legal document which two or three parties signed and are bound by. It was not a contract, or a draft contract but again this is part of the difficulty I face, there has been so much misinformation about this. All I know is that a complaint was made to the gardaí back in November and the gardaí have to do their job and investigate that complaint.”
Mr Varadkar said he learned about the launching of an investigation when Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris gave a statement to gardaí about the matter. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on Mr Harris’s part.
“They took statements from at least one Government Minister, Minister Harris, in January, which is how I heard that there is an investigation under way. My solicitors contacted the gardaí at that point to say that I would be willing to give a statement or be interviewed or whatever they need and I have heard nothing since and since then all I am relying on is what I see in the papers, leaks to the papers, ironically.
“Many of them are not accurate. What I am not allowing this to do is distract me from my job.”
The investigation relates to revelations, published in Village magazine last year, that Mr Varadkar improperly leaked a confidential copy of a proposed new general practitioner contract to a friend, Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail.