Bakhurst says RTÉ cannot provide executive contract details due to 'legal obligations'

Bakhurst Says Rté Cannot Provide Executive Contract Details Due To 'Legal Obligations'
RTÉ director general Kevin Bakhurst refutes claims RTÉ are "refusing" to hand over details. Photo: PA Images
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Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

Updated at 1.10pm

RTÉ director general, Kevin Bakhurst has said the broadcaster is not providing certain executive contract details to the Public Accounts Committee due to "legal and contractual obligations".


Mr Bakhurst argues these obligations preclude RTÉ from providing personal information, and he refutes any claim they are "refusing" to hand them over.

In a statement released by Bakhurst on Friday he said: "I think it is important to highlight that RTÉ is fully cooperating with both Committees and being as thorough and transparent as we possibly can, within what is permissible in law.

"RTÉ has provided the Public Accounts Committee with more than 160 documents requested, including one which contained over 500 emails relating to payments to Ryan Tubridy and a lengthy chronology of key events relating to Ryan Tubridy's last contract.

"This follows the recent provision of more than 170 documents to the Joint Oireachtas Committee in advance of last week's meeting.


"Where documents have not been provided, this is because of legal and contractual obligations which preclude RTÉ from providing personal information. We are not 'refusing' to provide them."

Mr Bakhurst said he can confirm there was no exit payment made to former Director General Dee Forbes on her resignation or to Geraldine O'Leary who left seven weeks early to take retirement.

"Due to issues raised about voluntary exit payments to former RTÉ employees, including Breda O'Keeffe, I commissioned an independent Review of VEP Schemes (2017 and 2021)in August.

"This is being carried out by McCann Fitzgerald (Solicitors) and will be completed in the coming weeks.


"However, we need to note that every individual at every level in RTÉ has a legal right to confidentiality and sometimes there are other legal constraints relating to departures, as I'm sure the Committee will recognise," he said.

His statement comes as Public Accounts Committee chairman Brian Stanley said committee members received a number of documents this week, but some had been withheld by the national broadcaster.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said: “There are a number of documents that we didn’t get, very important ones that actually we didn’t get was – and I can confirm this to you – is the terms and conditions of the voluntary exit package for Geraldine O’Leary, the former head of commercial at RTÉ, and Breda O’Keeffe, the former chief financial officer, her exit package. We have been refused that.

“We have also been refused Dee Forbes’ contract, she’s the former director general who we haven’t had the opportunity to speak to her yet, and we’re anxious to speak to her.


Brian Stanley, the chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts
Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We didn’t get theirs and that’s very disappointing because (they’re) three people who have been very central to all of this.”

Mr Stanley said that Ms O’Leary and Ms O’Keeffe, as well as Ms Forbes, would be invited to appear before a scheduled committee appearance on October 5th.


Ms O’Leary has appeared before both the Public Accounts Committee and the Media Committee, while Ms O’Keeffe has appeared before the Media Committee.

Ms Forbes has not appeared before an Oireachtas committee yet, nor participated in any of the subsequent investigations into governance at RTÉ, citing ill health.

Mr Stanley questioned whether other staff at RTÉ are also receiving such packages, adding that the committee will be seeking legal advice over the issue.

He said: “The question is here and most of your listeners will understand this, is that if you leave a job, when the term is up or when you reach the stage that you’re accepted for a pension… in a lot of jobs, there will be a financial package at the end of that and perhaps a pension.

“If you leave a job voluntarily, the expectation is that it doesn’t exist. And the question is here is did that exist?”

Mr Stanley said there was a suggestion that not all RTÉ staff receive such exit packages, and the committee wants the details of any possible “hefty” payments that may have been given to outgoing executives.

He added: “There’s a very straight question here for RTÉ to answer: What system was in place here for senior executives who are exiting?”

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