Tánaiste Leo Varadkar insists he has "committed no offence" but is willing to meet with gardaí over GP contract leak

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar insists he has "committed no offence" but is willing to meet with gardaí over GP contract leak

TÁNAISTE LEO Varadkar has offered to meet gardaí over the leaking of a confidential €210m GP contract.

In a statement on Sunday evening, Mr Varadkar said: “I am aware that a complaint was made against me last November. This was widely reported at the time.

“The gardaí have to do their job and investigate that complaint," he said, adding "I would expect nothing else".

"They have not been in contact with me about the matter, but I have, through my solicitors, made contact with them and I have offered to meet with them, answer any questions they may have, and provide a full statement on the matter.

He continued: “The facts are no different to those set out by me in the Dáil last November. My legal advice is that I have committed no offence.

"I look forward to the matter being concluded. Given the circumstances, I won’t be making any further comment.”

Detectives from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) have begun “preliminary inquiries” into whether the leak was in violation of the Official Secrets Act, The Irish Times reports.

The alleged offence occurred in April 2019, when it is thought that Mr Varadkar, who was Taoiseach at the time, leaked the confidential document to his associate Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail.

Details of a deal that the government had tentatively agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) were included in the contract.

One of the most controversial aspects of the leak is that Mr Ó Tuathail was president of National Association of GPs (NAGP) – a now defunct rival organisation to the IMO – at the time.

Mr Varadkar apologised for the leak in the Dáil, where he was questioned by TDs over his conduct and faced a motion of no confidence, which he survived.

“There was nothing selfish, corrupt, dishonest or illegal in what I did,” he said.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar. Photo: Julien Behal Photography / RollingNews.ie

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris, who was Minister for Health at the time, has already spoken with detectives and given them a written statement.

Interviews are also underway with his staff at the Department for Health.

Gardaí have emphasised that a full criminal investigation, along with all the additional powers and resources that entails, has not been launched into Mr Varadkar’s action as of yet.

Detectives are still in the preliminary stages of the inquiry and the garda position remains unchanged since it received a criminal complaint about the issue last year.

“An Garda Síochána has received correspondence which is being assessed to determine what if any Garda action is required. An Garda Síochána has no further comment at this time,” it revealed on Sunday.

Mr Harris met with detectives on January 21st, according to The Irish Times, when he voluntarily gave a written statement but was not required to attend a Garda station.

There is no indication that Mr Harris has committed an offence. Commenting on the issue, a spokeswoman for the minister said that he "cannot comment on an ongoing Garda investigation.”

It is understood that the next stage of the investigation will involve interviewing Mr Varadkar – who will not be interviewed under caution or be required to attend a garda station, a source told the The Irish Times.

“This is quite standard practice at this stage of an investigation,” the source said. Under the Official Secrets Act, it is an offence for “a public official” to leak confidential documents without prior authorisation.

Mr Varadkar has previously contended that TDs and Senators do not count as public officials under the legislation