A preliminary Garda inquiry into the leaking of a confidential document by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has been upgraded to a formal investigation.
The investigation relates to allegations that in April 2019, Mr Varadkar, who was then taoiseach, improperly leaked a confidential copy of a proposed new General Practitioner (GP) contract to a friend, Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail.
The contract contained details of the deal the government had provisionally agreed with the Irish Medical Organisation. At the time, Dr Ó Tuathail was president of the National Association of GPs (NAGP), a rival organisation representing GPs that is now defunct.
Detectives had been conducting “preliminary inquiries” into whether an offence may have been committed under the Official Secrets Act.
The Irish Times reports that the status of the inquiry has now advanced to a formal Garda investigation.
A Garda spokesman said: “An Garda Síochána does not comment on any ongoing investigations.”
Previous statements from Garda Headquarters had said it had received correspondence on the issue, which was being assessed to determine if any Garda action was required.
Mr Varadkar apologised for his actions in the Dáil but said he had not broken the law. He defended his actions by stating he had circulated the contract to encourage NAGP members to agree to it.
Details around the leaking of the GP pay deal contract had first been reported by The Village Magazine in late October 2020.
Detectives have already spoken to Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris about the matter, as he was minister for health at the time. Interviews have also been conducted with staff in the Department of Health.
Mr Varadkar has said he has offered to meet with investigating gardaí to respond to any questions on the matter.
The Official Secrets Act makes it an offence for “a public official” to leak documents of a sensitive nature. Mr Varadkar previously said public officials did not include TDs and Senators under the act.