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Tanaiste brands allegations he leaked ‘confidential’ information defamatory

It is expected the Tanaiste will face questions over the extent to which the information was public.

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal/PA)

The Tanaiste has branded allegations he leaked “confidential” information relating to a medical deal as “inaccurate” and “grossly defamatory”.

Leo Varadkar denied wrongdoing and said he had sought legal advice on the claims contained in an article in the current edition of Village magazine.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that he did pass information via an “informal communication channel” and admitted it was “not best practice”, but he insisted there was nothing “unlawful” about his actions because the information was already in public domain at that stage.

It is expected the Tanaiste will face questions over the extent to which the information was public, given the Village magazine is standing by its story.

The article in the magazine alleges that Mr Varadkar as Taoiseach passed on a “confidential” agreement made in 2019 with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to Dr Maitiu O Tuathail, the head of a rival organisation, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).

In a statement, Mr Varadkar said the details of an agreement on GP contractual reforms between the Department of Health, the HSE and the IMO were “publicly announced at the beginning of April 2019” and therefore in “the public domain” when he provided a copy of the agreement to Dr O Tuathail.

The statement said the Fine Gael leader “did provide a copy of the agreement to Dr O Tuathail on a date between 11th and 16th April 2019”.

But it said: “The nature of that agreement was not something that was confidential or sensitive after 6 April 2019. On the contrary, this information was in the public domain.”

Mr Varadkar said the “legitimate objective” of giving a copy of the agreement to Dr O Tuathail was to “encourage acceptance of the agreement amongst the General Practitioner community”.

“The Tanaiste accepts that the provision of the agreement by an informal communication channel to the President of the NAGP was not best practice and he regrets that he did not ensure that it was provided in a more appropriately formal manner,” the statement read.

“There was however, nothing in any way unlawful about the provision of the Agreement to the President of the NAGP.”

In a statement on Saturday evening, the Village Magazine said Mr Varadkar’s statement “provokes dramatically more questions than it answers”.

“Mr Varadkar’s statement giving the timeline intended to show whether the document was confidential when forwarded is inaccurate and is contradicted by for example by the statement of Stephen Donnelly – main opposition health spokesperson- in the Dail on April 16 that at that date ‘we have been denied access to any of the detail of the agreement’,” the magazine statement read.

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The magazine claims Mr Varadkar’s actions were in “breach of the codes of conduct for Dail members and ministers”.

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