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It’s A Crime

And there was a lie in the Dáil.

By Michael Smith.

Factual Background to Alleged Crimes

WhatsApp correspondence headlined ‘Leo Always Delivers’ first published in the Village Magazine of November 2020 showed then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar transferred a confidential draft contract being negotiated between government and the Irish Medical Organisation to a friend of his, the President of a rival doctors’ representative organisation, the National Association of GPs (NAGP) in April 2019. That friend was Dr Maitiú (Matt) O Tuathail.

This transfer constitutes a crime under the Official Secrets Act 1963 and perhaps under the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018.

This has been disputed by Leo Varadkar, currently Tánaiste, but this piece shows how.

“The leak constitutes a crime under the Official Secrets Act 1963 and perhaps under the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018. This has been disputed by Leo Varadkar, currently Tánaiste, but this piece shows how”

IMO and NAGP Rivalry

The IMO is an established representative organisation for all types of doctors. It underwent a scandal in 2013 and a more dynamic, younger, radical, harder-line but much smaller new organisation, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), was established in 2013 to rival it.

The insurgent but fragile NAGP needed to poach members from the bigger IMO so it could survive, to generate money to pay salaries and avoid collapse which it particularly needed to avoid because the NAGP was very badly, perhaps criminally badly, run; and collapse might – and did – precipitate wholesale enquiries including into governance that just might implicate some of its leaders, though not O Tuathail, in criminality. In March 2018 the association’s incoming president Dr Yvonne Williams had resigned along with five other council members. It was  subsequently reported  that Williams and others had had concerns about possible governance issues within the group, and members had become increasingly frustrated as questions went unanswered.

Williams was replaced by O Tuathail who eventually called in Chay Bowes, a healthcare entrepreneur, to do a report on the NAGP which led to an ongoing criminal investigation and the liquidation of the NAGP in June 2019 with debts of almost €400,000 and no cash available to pay creditors.

Village understands prosecution of some leading members of the NAGP, though not O Tuathail, may be announced shortly.

When he took over as President of the NAGP, O Tuathail and everyone else in the NAGP was investing a lot of political capital in generating hostility to the IMO. It took a hard line with government to contradistinguish itself from its namby-pamby rivals.

In particular the NAGP took advantage of the fact the IMO was negotiating the deal on GPs’ conditions that would affect both IMO and NAGP members, to foment fractiousness.

By early 2019 the NAGP was undermining the IMO, calling press conferences to deprecate the terms the IMO was reportedly agreeing.

That is the background to this story and the infamous leak.

Transfer of Confidential Draft Contract

Then-Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, provided a copy of the draft (it was subsequently amended 30 times) contract, stated to be confidential, to Matt O Tuathail. Varadkar did this, he considers, between 11 and 16 April 2019.

The Tánaiste told the Dáil in November that he did this to sow harmony between the rival groups but there is absolutely no evidence of it. On the contrary there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary. This takes two forms considered in detail below 1) that the motivation for the transfer was a favour to a friend and 2) that the transfer was seen as hoping to sow the opposite of harmony.

The Law:

1. The Official Secrets Act

The Official Secrets Act 1963 provides in Section 4: 1: a person shall not communicate any official information [defined as any…document or information which is secret or confidential or is expressed to be either and which is or has been in the possession, custody or control of a holder of a public office, or to which he has had access by virtue of his office] to any other person unless he is duly authorised to do so or does so in the course of and in accordance with his duties as the holder of a public office or when it is his duty in the interest of the state to communicate it. Let’s go through this methodically.

It is clear from the pervasive watermark – that this document is “expressed” to be confidential – so definitively satisfying the Act; furthermore the document was treated as confidential by the beneficiaries of its leaking. It was clearly in Varadkar’s “control” as he has written on it and asked for O Tuathail’s address with a view to forwarding it.

Recklessness on the Law?

As to whether the leak was effected in ignorance of the law, that is no excuse (the legal maxim is ignorantia juris neminem excusat). But in any event Varadkar knows what the law is on handling confidential communications. This is shown by the following WhatsApp exchange on an entirely different matter involving him from 2017 which was forwarded to Village magazine:

Varadkar told RTÉ’s Prime Time on 16 February that his legal advice was that he has not committed a crime. He continues to repeat the mantra at every turn.

Suggesting recklessness and a willingness to break the law – albeit he claims he did not think it was the law – Varadkar has stated that the Official Secrets Act does not apply to him.

An official statement by Fine Gael on his behalf after the Village story broke in November 2020 stated:

In circumstances where extraordinarily inaccurate claims have been made by Village Magazine, it is necessary to briefly summarise where they fall into significant legal error.
A: Village Magazine is manifestly wrong insofar as it claims that the Tánaiste breached the Official Secrets Acts, 1963 for the following reasons
: 1. The ambit of that Act is limited to persons holding a “public office” which is a term defined by Section 2 of the Act.  The definition of “public office” expressly excludes members of either House of the Oireachtas”.

Comment: This is clearly not true. A counsel’s opinion obtained by Village from Diarmaid Rossa Phelan SC explains why: “The short answer is that there is no exclusion in the Official Secrets Act, 1963, to the person prohibited from communicating official information by virtue of the person’s status simpliciter as Minister or member of the Oireachtas”…
“If the information falls within the definition of official information, the prohibition on disclosure of official information applies to a person without qualification or exclusion de ratione personae [(i.e. simply by virtue of their status (as Minister or Oireachtas member)]. However, the communication by any person may nonetheless be excepted from prohibition, not because of status for example as member of the Oireachtas or Minister, but [under any of three tightly defined exceptions].

We also obtained the view of another senior counsel who did not wish for his name to be publicised. He wrote to us:

“Section 4 – A person shall not communicate any official information to any other person unless

  • he is duly authorised to do so
  • [and] does so in the course of and in accordance with his duties as the holder of a public office
  • or when it is his duty in the interest of the State to communicate it.

So there is no limitation as to who is bound by the Act – ‘a person’” [this confirms that the Act does indeed apply to TDs and Ministers].

The two opinions from senior counsel confirm that Taoisigh are bound by the Act (the second one assuming, since that is required in order to meet the definition of public office, the Taoiseach is paid by the State which he is).

If the Tánaiste thinks the Official Secrets Act does not apply to him or to the Taoiseach there is a fundamental failure at the heart of government. Every incoming Minister signs the Official Secrets Act upon taking office. This was confirmed to me by several former Ministers. It’s fundamental to the modus operani of government. His defence is facile.

If the Tánaiste thinks the Official Secrets Act does not apply to him or to the Taoiseach there is a fundamental failure at the heart of government. Every incoming Minister signs the Official Secrets Act upon taking office. This was confirmed to me by several former Ministers. It’s fundamental to the modus operandi of government. Most people know this instinctively. His defence is facile.

The confusion perhaps arises from the definition of “official information”. Only the leak of official information is covered by the Act. Official information as defined in the Act must have passed through the hands of someone in public office. And public office is stated to exclude membership of the Oireachtas. But the information passed through the hands of civil servants before Varadkar obtained it. The draft contract, stated to be confidential, was “official information”.


Fine Gael’s critique goes on:

2. An Agreement that has been agreed by Government with an external body (the IMO) the detail of which has been extensively set out in press releases is not capable of falling within the definition of “secret or confidential” contained in Section 2 of the Act”.

Comment: Fine Gael in its statement is here addressing the issue of confidentiality. The document was confidential. That is why it was useful and why the Tánaiste went to the bother of forwarding it. The chairman of the NAGP, Dr Andy Jordan, told its ‘Inner Sanctum’ Whatsapp group that they owed it to Varadkar that it should “remain“ confidential. As the Whatsapp exchange shows, the group was jubilant about the leak.

Varadkar defended himself against the allegations in the Village article in his statement of 31 October 2020 giving  a timeline intended to show that the document was not confidential when forwarded. This has preoccupied many commentators but who cares – it was clearly stated to be confidential?

Contrary to Fine Gael’s silly critique any document so stated falls within the “definition” in Section 2 of the Act. Fine Gael’s statement is selective: the Act covers a document stated to be confidential. This document could not more clearly have been stated to be confidential. That, in the end under this statute, is conclusive.

Exceptions to Criminality Under Official Secrets Act

Fine Gael’s critique goes on:

3. Leaving aside the fact that the Act does not even apply to any member of the Oireachtas, the prohibition contained in Section 4 only restricts communication of “official information” when the person communicating the information is not “duly authorised” to communicate it. It is impossible to understand how the Taoiseach, as Head of Government, could not be so “duly authorised”.

Comment: This involves an intricate assessment of the exceptions to the application of the Official Secrets Act. The counsels’ opinions do not go into the factual background to this case so they were not in a position to say if and how the law applies to these exceptions. There are three though Fine Gael deals with only one.

The section does not talk of justification or for example of furtherance of the public interest. It has two components: duly and authorised. For anyone to be ‘duly’ authorised there must be a procedural and express authorisation.

Due Authorisation

Contrary to what Fine Gael said, it is very easy indeed to understand how the Taoiseach would not be “duly authorised”. As Senior Counsel, Diarmuid Rossa Phelan, shows, the authorisation must be by an Official or Minister. Section 4 (4) of the Act states: “In this section ‘duly authorised’ means authorised by a Minister or State authority or by some person authorised in that behalf by a Minister or State authority”.

Here no such authorisation existed. No permission was obtained, no procedure observed, no tentative decision was submitted for scrutiny and technical authorisation. An FoI request by Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty, obtained around 21 January, in fact showed that the line Minister, Simon Harris – the then Minister for Health – was trying furiously to get his own hands on the document, including in an email to several officials, but couldn’t.

The Dáil record below at A (below) shows that, in replying to questions from Doherty on 3 November 2020, Harris in effect denied the existence of the email at B (below) from him which was an inquiry requiring a draft of the contract.

A: Harris’ answer to the Dáil
B: Harris’ email to his officials

Harris and Varadkar have both stated that in the email Harris was looking for a later version of the draft contract and Harris says that the inquiry to the officials was the one he referred to in his reply to Doherty, so the draft could be put on the website.

Varadkar claims to have got the document twice, the second time from a special advisor after he’d lost his own copy the first time. Certainly there is no record of a formal request from the Department of the Taoiseach for the document.

But it is absolutely not clear where he got it the first time. Because Simon Harris did not have it or at least claimed in the Dáil that he had only sought it once. So a big mystery still to be resolved by the Garda between Harris and Varadkar is: WHERE DID THE THEN TAOISEACH GET THE DRAFT CONTRACT THE FIRST TIME?

It is not quite clear how he obtained the document. He told the Dáil on 3 November “I got the document from the Department of Health” but seconds later he continued “I got one copy from the Minister for Health”. Whatever the reality, the Garda NCBI are interviewing any civil servant who might know anything about how and why Varadkar obtained the draft contract.

Harris and Varadkar have contrived to confuse the discourse about where Varadkar got the contract.

In terms of whether it was duly authorised, far from it being government policy to leak the draft contract, as Varadkar has implied, the FoI request by Pearse Doherty TD in January showed expressly that the Department of Health did not want leaking of the document. One official warned by email that the IMO believed it would be “very problematic” for the organisation if it was published and that any leaking would “represent a serious breach of trust”.

Not only was it not Government policy to allow for some form of “authorisation”, it was actually government policy not to negotiate with the NAGP.  According to the NAGP itself: “One of the Government’s excuses for not allowing the NAGP into negotiations was the fact that we didn’t have Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) affiliation”. 

There were other reasons which show how it was not an accident that the NAGP were kept at arm’s length. Some of these are no doubt wrapped up in the awareness that the NAGP was engaging in dubious processes.

So, precluding any possible authorisation, or due authorisation, the leak was pulled from Mr Varadkar’s head and illicitly perpetrated behind, so he says, the backs of absolutely everyone.

It is crucial to note that, since, he says, no other official or Minister knew he was doing it – certainly Harris has vigorously denied even knowing about it – it was impossible for them to authorise it. The Irish Times’ Colm Keena considered the matter in an article on November 2 2020: “Why did Varadkar not let Simon Harris know he was sending the document on?”:

“Mr Varadkar is likely to say that the government had already decided on this issue so it was a whole-of -government matter rather than one specific to health. A likely response will be that as Taoiseach at the time (and as a former minister for health) it was an issue of significance for him and it was therefore his prerogative to ensure the contract was understood and accepted by as many GPs as possible”.

This may be a journalist’s understanding of a Taoiseach’s preroragative – and elsewhere the newspaper’s world-weary Political Editor referred to the “Trump defence” but it shows no understanding of the requirements of the law for third-party authorisation.

The Irish Times let its readers down by half-hearted, amateurish and ultimately inept interpretations of the Official Secrets Act. This is no small matter for a newspaper that still considers itself serious. It should have obtained a professional opinion.

The ill-considered Fine Gael statement ignores two other possible exceptions to the Acts – both refer to situations where the minister has a “duty” to release the information: where he or she “communicates the official information in the course of [and] in accordance with his or her duties as the holder of a public office (not including membership of the Oireachtas); or when it is his or her duty in the interest of the State to communicate it”.

The first point to be made here is that Varadkar cannot avail of an exception for office holders because a member of the Oireachtas, as we have seen, is not ratione personae an office holder.

Parking that central point, in any event having a duty is very different from having a power, right or permission to release information.

A duty would require that the Minister had no legal alternative but to release the information: that there would be legal redress to someone if he or she failed in the duty to leak this contract.

This would imply a third party could go to court to enforce the leaking of the draft confidential contract! That is a comical misconstruction of the situation here.

This was at best and under the scenario implausibly conjured by Mr Varadkar and Fine Gael a political release, not a legally–permitted release let alone a legally – required release. And in reality it was a personal release for personal reasons.

“In the course of and in accordance with his duties” is a high standard. It requires that action should be in the course of duties i.e. delivering those duties (and in accordance with does not seem to add anything). But here, as stated the actions were not duties in the first place…

Or when it is his duty in the interest of the state to communicate it. But again it is not a duty, in the interest of the state or otherwise. At most it could be a political discretion. It is also dubious whether the communication in this instance was in the interest of the state. I have dealt with that a little above.

Summary of Official Secrets Act

So in summary…the Tánaiste’s statement says “the ambit of the [Official Secrets] Act is limited to persons holding a public office [excluding Ministers]” but of course it applies to Ministers, Taoisigh indeed to everyone, to persons – all persons including Oireachtas members.  Everybody knows that. The exception  to the rule is for holders of public office (from which Ministers and Taoisigh are excluded – so excluding Mr Varadkar from the exception not the rule), or in the case of a duty which certainly did not exist here.

2. The Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018 (the Corruption Act)

The Corruption Act provides in Section 7:
2) an Irish official who uses confidential information obtained in the course of his or her office, employment, position or business for the purpose of corruptly obtaining a gift, consideration or advantage for himself or herself or for any other person shall be guilty of an offence.
An offence in this context requires:

A. Using confidential information obtained in the course of his or her office [and how else can the information here have been obtained?], or doing an act in relation to his or her office, which – “ being more general – “would also cover using confidential information.

B. in either instance it depends on [obtaining an advantage for another person [O Tuathail]. The reaction of the NAGP “inner sanctum” shows they clearly knew they were getting an advantage.

C. that the act was for the purpose of corruptly obtaining the advantage.

Definition of Corruption

Corruption, according to Acts like the Prevention of Corruption [amendment] Act 2010 includes acting with an improper purpose personally. So what does acting with an improper purpose personally mean?

Now this is trickier.

O Tuathail wanted Bowes to know how the NAGP knew the information was hot, “confidential”, possibly “robbed”. Elsewhere O Tuathail said he wanted to “destroy” the IMO and to take “the wind out of their sails”. It was clearly received by them on the basis it was improper or illicit, but the standard is objective.


What was Varadkar’s purpose in leaking it? He claimed:

  1. that the motivation for the transfer was not a favour to a friend and
  2. that the motivation for the transfer was to sow harmony.

Varadkar said that the motivation for the transfer was not a favour to a friend. This is belied by the following:

  1. It was received as a favour
  2. It advanced O Tuathail’s position within the NAGP
  3. It advanced the agenda of O Tuathail and the NAGP versus the IMO
  4. It tended to prevent prevent damage to the financial position of O Tuathail’s colleagues in the NAGP
  5. It tended to militate against O Tuathail facing criminal proceedings for the mismanagement of the NAGP
  6. It is likely he did it to advance his relationship with O Tuathail or more particularly to advance Varadkar’s relationship with his partner Matt Barrett by advancing O Tuathail. Varadkar has described the relationship in the Dáil misleadingly as not close, the sort of relationship where you meet two or three times a year.

Varadkar’s Lies About Relationship With O Tuathail

O’Tuathail and Varadkar under Collins

But Village published an online piece showing O Tuathail claimed to have met Varadkar ten times in 2019, undermining Varadkar’s statement that he was the sort of person he’d meet only two or three times a year, especially since realistically nobody transfers evidence of every single meeting they have with somebody to a third party by WhatsApp message.

This online article documented ten meetings in 2019, though Varadkar denied this in the Dáil, including by saying he had been in Brussels twice – which was plausible – and Barcelona. And we have obtained plausible anonymous information about another meeting. The ostensible source of this information about the relationship, which included photographs (including one of Varadkar and O Tuathail in the Taoiseach’s office) was a former prominent member of Young Fine Gael. He has plausibly denied he sent us the information.

One or two of the meetings claimed by O Tuathail in WhatsApp exchanges with Chay Bowes were disproved by Varadkar but it did not alter the central thesis of the article that there were more than two or three meetings that year. Varadkar also referred in the Dáil to having been in Barcelona during an unspecifi ed one of these meetings. I believe he cannot prove this. Though Varadkar answered some questions in writing for Village he would not answer that one. The motivation was a favour for O Tuathail.

Clearly a marked social benefit is an advantage that many would feel motivated to pursue. It is submitted that this was an advantage that the Tánaiste quite deliberately sought in transferring the draft contract: “improper personal purposes”.

Acting with an improper purpose personally comes simply from the context of breaching of confidence. And as to what the Tánaiste may have got back by way of quid pro quo – “ the corrupt gaining of an advantage” for him.

A) O’Toole has become a ubiquitous commentator on the politics of healthcare particularly COVID-19. On one of the most important issues for the current Tánaiste – whether the government should follow NPHET’s advice, an issue where Varadkar put his head on the block by aggressive subversion of NPHET – O Tuathail has been a slavish campaigner for adherence to NPHET’s advice – until… Varadkar challenged the advice.

So, the day before Varadkar’s intervention subverting NPHET on Claire Byrne live O Tuathail tweeted “Let’s remember NPHET aren’t doing this to be popular. NPHET aren’t doing this to be liked. NPHET are doing this to save lives. They have to balance the information and the data they have with our health services capacity to deal with it. SIN É”.

Yet the very next day, with no changes in circumstances, Newstalk’s website indicates O Tuathail gave an interview to the ‘Hard Shoulder’ in which he said that the Cabinet’s refusal to move to level 5 is “the first time we’ve actually seen the government govern”. This was valuable support from an apparently neutral commentator. And O Tuathail was becoming a respected commentator.

More recently – again mirroring Varadkar O Tuathail has reverted to his long-standing support for adherence to NPHET’s advice, even retweeting earlier tweets.

B) O Tuathail has also been something of a acilitator for Varadkar: when the Irish Independent revealed then-Taoiseach Varadkar had heroically reverted to his role as doctor in scrubs, it was O Tuathail who somehow was on-site to photograph Varadkar for them. He had facilitated this important placement, and indeed the associated PR opportunity, with medical charity Safetynet of which he was head until January 2020.

C) Another dramatic quid pro quo which Varadkar may have sought was to get the NAGP to withdraw its threat to campaign against candidates from Varadkar’s Fine Gael Party in local and European elections in 2019 if the government continued to exclude the union from negotiations on the new GP contract.

A letter of 11 February 2019 to Martin Heydon, Chairman of Fine Gael from Matt O Tuathail expressly threatened that a meeting was needed to “avoid further escalation in the dispute about representation and reform” – that they “will individually [campaign] against their local Fine Gael TDs, Councillors and Senators”.

D) One informed and apparently balanced commentator, Dr Ciara Kelly, wrote in the Sunday Independent of 15 November: “there’s been much talk of the advantage conferred to the NAGP by [the transfer] but the truth is the IMO was seen by many GPs to have an advantage – the ear of government – over the NAGP. It could even be argued that the NAGP being given sight of the IMO contract in 2019 was levelling of the playing field”. This may make some, though in fact limited, moral sense but it does not reflect the law.

She goes on: “as to why Leo varadkar chose to show it to the NAGP in the manner he did, I can only guess. But I’d imagine diffusing the palpable ire of the NAGP – it was threatening to actively campaign against Fine Gael in the next general election was probably one reason.

Dr Maitiú O Tuathail, the head of the NAGP, was in his debt going forward, might be another.

Certainly having the outspoken NAGP, which was seen as a thorn in the side of the Department of Health, on board when a new GP contract was being negotiated would have been a big win for the government…”.

Varadkar Implausibly Claimed Motivation Was to Sow Harmony

Varadkar said the motivation for the transfer was to sow harmony. He has said he leaked it to sow harmony between the two feuding organisations. He got emotional in the Dáil, invoking his father and his childhood, claiming this as his high – minded objective.

This is belied by the following:

  1. O Tuathail said he wanted to destroy the IMO
  2. He said he would use the contract to “take the wind out of the sails” of the IMO
  3. It was not official government policy to sow harmony
  4. The person to sow harmony would have been the Minister for Health Simon Harris who knew O Tuathail well not the Taoiseach
  5. Beyond his covert and illicit leak, the government did nothing overt to sow harmony. O Tuathail did contact the appropriate Minister, Simon Harris to tell him NAGP members – who constituted 20% of the IMO – would vote against the agreement unless it was shared with all the members. To which Harris replied “Will make inquiries. Let’s grab a coffee soon”.

Turning to Fine Gael, in its response to the Village article it also dealt with the Corruption Act:

“Village Magazine is completely mistaken in suggesting that the Tánaiste may have breached the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act 2018.

  1. The actions of the Tánaiste were simply not for the purpose of corruptly obtaining a gift, consideration or advantage for himself
  2. On the contrary, the only motivation for the Taoiseach’s actions was to advance the prospects of an Agreement negotiated by the Government being well received by General Practitioners.  Sending the Agreement to the President of a representative body of General Practitioners was designed to further the stated objectives of Government.
  3. There is no evidence whatsoever that the Taoiseach received any gift, consideration or advantage for himselfwithin the meaning of Section
  4. The language of the section is clearly intended to address a politician obtaining a bribe or equivalent benefit in return for a corrupt Government favour.  Nothing remotely of that kind occurred here and it is preposterous to suggest that the section is even engaged.

Comment: Again the inept Fine Gael statement misses the point. The advantage in this case was more likely for O Tuathail not Varadkar. Though there was also an actionable advantage for Varadkar. These have been described.


Presumably reflecting its own understanding of the law, a Garda inquiry is advancing. There was a disparity between The Irish Times which said there is no formal investigation and the Irish Mirror which reports “this is a full investigation”. Not much turns on this except whether witnesses are being interviewed under caution. As of 14 March it was accepted there was a full-blown criminal investigation underway.

Original Complaints

In November, an activist called Norma Burke complained to the Garda and in December Chay Bowes and I gave statements to the Garda. Bowes and I were interviewed separately, each for about three hours. The Garda asked to take Bowes’ phone as part of their investigations.

Later Complaint from Department of Health Official

Crucially, another complaint was made by an official in the Department, also in December. At least six officials in the Department of Health have been asked for statements, as has the former Minister, Harris, who gave his on 21 January. Officials from other Departments will be asked for statements soon.

It is clear, since Varadkar claims he obtained the document from an official that a civil servant knows the way he got the document and the purpose he sought it for over the head of the line Minister, Simon Harris who did not know about it, and indeed had some difficulty getting a later draft, for himself, though he was the Minister duly authorised.

The senior civil servant in the Department of Health at the time was Jim Breslin who had been there when Varadkar was Minister for Health but subsequently, in July 2020, moved with Simon Harris, with whom he is said to enjoy a particularly good working relationship, to the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. It is not clear if Breslin has given a statement to the Garda. The current acting Secretary General in the Department of Health is Robert Watts, the former Secretary-General at the Department of Expenditure.

State of Play

Leo Varadkar has not been asked for a statement but through his solicitor he has said he would like to give one, and he has told Prime Time his advice is he has not broken the law. Matt O Tuathail has not been contacted and is contemplating emigration. His evidence would be of less significance than that of officials who may know the purpose for which Varadkar asked for the draft contract.

The investigation is being conducted by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and led by Detective Superintendent  Ken Keelin, reporting to Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, highly experienced officers. Varadkar has said “There was nothing selfish, corrupt, dishonest, or illegal in what I did”. But the view of the law he has outlined is embarrassingly poorly grounded. And the Garda are on the case.