Dublin TD Paul Murphy has been granted leave to bring a High Court challenge over the refusal by the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo) to investigate a claim that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar leaked a draft GP contract agreement.
Permission to bring the judicial review action was granted by Ms Justice Niamh Hyland on Monday after she said Mr Murphy’s lawyers had made out that the applicant’s claim is arguable.
The People Before Profit-Solidarity TD initiated his challenge last February.
The case was adjourned on several occasions when the then judge presiding over the judicial review list, Mr Justice Charles Meenan, sought clarification of certain legal points.
Mr Justice Meenan had also directed that the matter be on notice to both Sipo and Mr Varadkar.
On Monday, Ms Justice Hyland said that after reading all the papers and submissions provided in respect of the leave application, she was satisfied that permission to bring the challenge against the ethics watchdog’s decision should be granted.
Lawyers for Sipo or Mr Varadkar did not oppose the leave application.
Among the Dublin South-West TD’s grounds of challenge is a claim his right to fair procedures and natural and constitutional justice was breached by Sipo’s decision. He further seeks an order remitting the matter back to Sipo for reconsideration.
Mr Murphy made a complaint to Sipo in November 2020 that Mr Varadkar, the then-Tanáiste, provided a copy of the confidential proposed GP’s contract agreement in April 2019 to Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail, president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP).
The agreement had been negotiated between the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).
Dr Ó Tuathail’s NAGP is a rival to the IMO and was not party to the negotiations.
Mr Murphy claims the document was confidential and had not been released publicly.
Following publicity about the alleged leak, Mr Varadkar denied it was confidential by the time he passed it on to Dr Ó Tuathail.
After granting leave, the judge made certain directions regarding the exchange of documents in the cases, and adjourned the matter to a date in October, when the new legal year commences.