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AS IT HAPPENED

AS IT HAPPENED: Tubridy decries being 'inextricably linked' to RTÉ 'fiasco', suggests he's been 'cancelled'

Both men and their solicitors will first appear before Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee at 11am.

RYAN TUBRIDY AND his agent Noel Kelly will today appear before two Oireachtas committees today over RTÉ’s failure to disclose €345,000 worth of payments to the presenter.

First up for both men is the Public Accounts Committee at 11am followed at 3pm by Media Committee.

Both men have delivered their opening statements to PAC and have been incredibly critical of RTÉ.

Tubridy has outlined what he said were “seven untruths” about what he called his “darkest hour both professionally and personally”.

Tubridy has not presented his weekday morning radio programme since the issues at RTÉ came to light on 22 June, with RTÉ’s new director general yesterday suggesting that his future at the network may hinge on this week’s events

You can follow the latest from today’s events below:

Good morning. Hayley Halpin here to kick things off this morning. 

A statement issued on behalf of Ryan Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly ahead of the PAC this morning said the Committee is being provided with Tubridy’s 2015 and 2020 contracts with RTÉ, the broadcaster is reporting. 

Speaking ahead of the PAC hearing, Tubridy said: 

“We will be presenting key documents and new information to the two Committees which we believe will bring maximum transparency to the situation and address much of the misinformation which has circulated over the past three weeks.

“This is the first opportunity we have had to set out the full facts of what occurred, and we have spent weeks reviewing all the information about these issues.”

Ryan Tubridy and Noel Kelly’s opening statements to the PAC have been published ahead of the hearing this morning. 

In his opening statement to the committee, Tubridy will say that he wants to “set the record straight and to call out some untruths”. 

Tubridy will tell the Oireachtas that the claim he did not take a pay cut from RTÉ in 2020 is “not true”. 

“I took a 20% pay cut from RTÉ in my 2020-2025 contract. That’s it. I took a 20% pay cut from RTÉ. I am obliged to do 205 radio shows and 38 live two-hour Late Late Shows under this contract,” Tubridy will say. 

“I am an independent contractor. I get no pension or entitlements from RTÉ. Under the terms of my contract I am allowed to do additional work outside of RTÉ. I stress that there is nothing morally, ethically or legally wrong with me or any independent contractor doing additional work for another client outside of RTÉ,” he will say. 

“But to be clear – I took a pay cut from RTÉ of 20% in 2020 for each of the five years of my contract, at a cost of €525,000 to me over the length of that contract.” 

Tubridy will also tell the Oireachtas that the suggestion his decision to retire from the Late Late Show was “prompted by this whole debacle” is “not true”. 

“I was not aware of any of this debacle when I decided to retire from the Late Late Show,” he will say. 

Tubridy will also tell the committee that is is “not true” that he “was covertly or secretly ‘overpaid’ by RTÉ”.

“I was not overpaid by RTÉ at any point. I fully accept I am very well-paid but I
was paid fully in accordance with my contract, which my agent negotiated openly, honestly and in good faith,” he will say. 

“There are no over-payments.

“There are RTÉ’s under-declarations – which we challenged them on back in 2020 – and there are RTÉ’s over-declarations of what they actually paid me in 2020 and 2021. This has caused justifiable anger among my colleagues. I understand their anger. The upshot of RTÉ’s inaccurate declarations is an impression that I have been less than honest. This is not the case.”

Tubridy will tell the committee that it is “not true” that he “was aware that RTÉ were trying to conceal payments” to him. 

He will also tell the committee that it is “not true” that “there was a secret agreement with Renault” that he “tried to conceal”. 

The committee will hear from Tubridy that it is “not true” that “RTÉ’s underwriting of Renault’s payment obligations was a secret”. 

The seventh “untruth” that Tubridy will outline is that he “did not ask RTÉ about their under-declarations of my earnings when they released the 2017, 2018 and 2019 earnings on the one day, January 20th 2021″. 

“This is a question I did not ask at the time, and one I should have asked. I fully accept that,” he will say. 

He will tell the committee that at the end of his 2015-2020 contract, his agent advised him that he was entitled to a €120,000 payment, “that has been variously called a loyalty, end-of contract or exit payment”. 

“I did not invoice for that payment. I did not pursure the payment and I did not receive any payment. The document provided to you today bear this out. In my simple view, I had foregone a €120,000 payment – not taken it. But because of how RTÉ reported that decision in their accounts, the narrative of the last three weeks has been that not only did I take this payment but that I somehow contrived to hide it. I reiterate; I actually waived my entitlement to their payment, and I did not receive one cent of it. I hid nothing. I had nothing to hide,” he will say. 

Tubridy will tell the committee that his “agent had already pointed out to RTÉ in 2020 that we thought the manner in which they were planning to account for my earnings in 2017, 2018 and 2019 was incorrect”.

“We had understood that they accepted our position, so by the time they released the figures, I assumed that the CFO, the financial professionals in RTÉ and the external auditors who had audited the accounts in 2017, 2018 and 2019 had accountancy reasons for accounting for it the way they did,” he will say. 

Tubridy will tell the committee that his company earnings “fully reflect” what he earned “in these and all subsequent years”. 

He will tell the committee he is “particularly upset and disappointed” about the “decision and framing” of the RTÉ statement on 22 June which he will say “inextricably linked” his name to “this whole fiasco”. 

Tubridy will close his opening statement by saying: “In closing, I would like to thank the many people from across the country who have taken time to stop me on the street or send me cards or messages of support these past few weeks.

“I have always found the Irish people to be very fair, and I am hopeful that they will see from my statement and my appearance here today that I am determined to inform them of the truth and to demonstrate that I have nothing to hide.

“I am also hopeful that I will soon get back on air to do the job I love.”

Noel Kelly began his statement with a list of documents that he and Tubridy were handing over to the committee.

He then began to discuss the declaration of payments between 2017 and 2019.

“This issue has caused a lot of distress,” he wrote. “It’s entirely a mess of RTE’s own making. Ryan’s 2015 contract clearly states the fees he was to receive in each of the following five years. They are set out in clause 8.1 of the contract. He received those fees exactly. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

“Indeed, the then Chief Financial Officer emailed us on the 19th of December 2019, and she set out the actual earnings for each of the relevant years correctly,” Kelly says in his statement. 

Kelly said that he and Tubridy had asked RTÉ to give them “reasonable” notice ahead of presenter salaries being published.

They claimed this did not happen.

“If they had done that, we would have had Qme to check the figures and avoid errors. However, RTE ignored our request for reasons which l don’t understand.”

On the Renault deal, Noel Kelly said that the idea was RTÉ’s and not his.

“You will see in the email that this is where the idea of a Commercial Sponsorship with a 3rd Party with an annual fee of €75,000 is first suggested. It comes from RTÉ.”

RTÉ has issued a statement this morning following the release of the opening statements from Tubridy and Kelly. It reads: 

“RTÉ rejects the claim that an incorrect version of events was presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee and/or to the Dáil Committee of Public Accounts regarding RTÉ’s agreement to underwrite payments of €75,000 per contract year due to Mr Tubridy.

“For clarity, the claim relates specifically to an email that was sent by the former CFO of RTÉ to NK Management on 20 February 2020, which is being characterised as a contractual commitment on the part of RTÉ to underwrite the payments in question.

“RTÉ does not accept this characterisation. RTÉ’s position is that the email of 20 February 2020 formed part of the discussions and engagement between it and NK Management in relation to the proposed new TV and radio contract with Mr Tubridy/Tuttle Productions and did not comprise a binding legal or contractual commitment on its part.

“RTÉ’s position is as per previous statements: that, until the verbal commitment given by the former Director General during the call on 7 May 2020, it had not agreed to underwrite the €75,000 payment per contract year.”

In his opening statement, Noel Kelly says: ”We trusted RTÉ. It’s not some unknown start-up, with opaque funding, a chequered past or a record for dodgy financial dealings.

“It’s a national institution. Almost 100 years old. A massive business turning over hundreds of millions of euros each year. It has internal and external auditors. It has a heavyweight board. Teams of financial advisors and accountants.

“As Mr Bakhurst said yesterday, RTÉ has robust processes and rigorous oversight of finances in many parts of the organisation. That is what we assumed too. Why would we suspect they were hiding information about one of their key contracts. Why would they even do that?”

Ryan Tubridy has been made the “poster boy” for the undeclared payments scandal at RTE, Noel Kelly will tell the committee. 

He will say: “For the past number of years, Ryan has continued to perform at the highest level; working with colleagues and leading shows which bring in tens of millions (of euros) in commercial (activities) and raise tens of millions for charities through the Toy Show Appels and through Covid appeals, and so on.

“We have heard a lot about RTÉ’s public service ethos but let’s call a spade a spade. RTÉ is a hybrid organisation.

“Its commercial activities are key to keeping the station afloat, maintaining jobs and creating content.

“Ryan has been a huge driver of RTÉ’s successful commercial activities for the past 14 years.

“Ryan and I have attracted a horrendous amount of criticism and abuse in the past few weeks because he is such a high-profile and successful figure in Ireland, and he has been made the poster boy for this scandal.

“That is undeserved.”

In what Noel Kelly himself has termed “the most shocking revelation,” he and Tubridy have provided a document that appears to show an agreement in writing by RTÉ to underwrite the relevant €75,000 payment by Renault for the duration of Tubridy’s contract.

“Since this controversy began, RTE has tried to distance themselves from this decision,” Kelly will tell the Oireachtas. “Effectively they have blamed former Director General Dee Forbes for doing a solo run and for giving a verbal commitment to underwrite the contract on a Zoom Call in May.”

“RTE executives have said how there was a strong ‘push-back’ against the idea of underwriting the agreement. That is incorrect.”

It seems we can expect quite a spectacle once today’s sessions begin.

Tubridy's arrival

With the first of two Oireachtas committees coming up shortly, Tubridy has been pictured arriving at Leinster House.

Tubridy's agent, Noel Kelly

Noel Kelly followed shortly after Tubridy as they ready themselves for this morning’s committee.

Opening proceedings

PAC chair Brian Stanley has opened proceedings, with both Ryan Tubridy and his agent Noel Kelly to deliver opening statements. 

Documents...

Brian Stanley in his opening remarks expresses concern that documents relating to today’s committee hearings were published this morning as some members were travelling to Leinster House. 

Ryan Tubridy opening statement

Ryan Tubridy is outlining how he is an “independent contractor” who has no pension entitlements from RTÉ.

“That’s the nature of it,” says Tubridy. 

He adds: “I stress that there is nothing morally wrong ethically or legally with me or any independent contractor doing additional work for another client outside of RTÉ.”

Late Late departure

Tubridy says it is “not remotely true” to suggest his retirement from The Late Late Show was “prompted by this whole debacle”.

He said he “made my initial decision to leave The Late Late pretty much a year ago”.

“Just to make it abundantly clear, there is zero connection between my departure and this very raw situation of recent weeks.”

'Paid in accordance with my contract'

Tubridy is outling the “seven untruths”.

He “accepts” he is “very well paid” but adds that he was “paid fully in accordance with my contract, which my agent negotiated openly”. 

“The upshot of RTÉ’s inaccurate declarations is an impression that I have been less than honest,” said Tubridy.

“This is not the case.”

Renault deal

Tubridy’s “fifth untruth” is claim that there was a “secret agreement with Renault” that he tried to conceal.

“This is not true,” said Tubridy. “But not only that, it absolutley beggars belief.”

He also disputes that RTÉ’s payment obligation was a secret. 

Under-declarations of earnings

His final and seventh “untruth” is about why Tubridy didn’t question the under-declaration of his earnings. 

“This is a question I did not ask at that time, and one I should have asked. I fully accept that,” said Tubridy. 

He said he signed a contract in “good faith”, declared his earnings and paid his taxes, but has now become “the face of a national scandal”.

“Accused of being complicit, deceitful and dishonest,” said Tubridy. 

'Untruths'

Tubridy outling his “seven untruths” this morning.

image

Noel Kelly opening statement

Ryan Tubridy’s agent Noel Kelly is now addressing the committee, and his statement can be read here.

Kelly said he hopes today can “help clarify the confusion which has arisen in the past few weeks”. 

Adds that the past few weeks have been “hugely damaging to Ryan Tubridy, to myself, and to my own business”. 

'A mess of RTÉ's own making'

Kelly claims this has been “entirely a mess of RTE’s own making”. 

Kelly said he “received those fees” as outlined in documents to the committee “exactly”.

“Nothing more, nothing less,” adds Kelly.

Renault contract

Kelly said RTÉ has “tried to distance themselves from this decision” to underwrite the Renault contract, which ran parallel to a 2020 contract that Tubridy has with RTÉ.

Kelly labels this the “most shocking revelation this morning”.

“Effectively they have blamed former Director General Dee Forbes for doing a solo run and for giving a verbal commitment to underwrite the contract on a Zoom Call in May,” said Kelly.

“RTE executives have said how there was a strong ‘push-back’ against the idea of underwriting the agreement.

“That is incorrect.”

'This is the RTÉ scandal'

Closing his opening remarks, Kelly says Tubridy has been “made a poster boy for this scandal”.

“And that’s undeserved. This is not the Ryan Tubridy scandal. This is the RTÉ scandal.”

Head-shaking moments

As Kelly read out his opening statement, Tubridy shook his head at times as his agent outlined their position. 

Elsewhere, our Political Correspondent Christina Finn has eyes on TDs in the room.

As Tubridy delivered an at-times impassioned opening statement, some members could be seen trying to conceal smiles at his performance. 

Tubridy and Kelly are now being questioned by members of the committee.

'RTÉ take the hit'

Imelda Munster is now leading the questioning. 

“You were instructed to not put names on the invoices,” said Munster in relation to €75,000 invoices paid to Tubridy.

“You were told not to put a name on it, you knew exactly what it was for, and yet you say there was nothing secret about the deal?”

image (1)

'Misunderstanding here'

Munster speaks about a 2019 interview in which Tubridy said he was “haunted” by the idea of child poverty. 

“You also said that you would accept cost cutting measures gracefully,” said Munster.

“But here we are, three or four years later, we know that that pay cut was subsidised by the deal.

“You knew that the separate deal was being done and that it would compensate for the pay cuts.”

Tubridy claims “there is a misunderstanding here”.

“I would also urge you not to conflate somebody being well paid and somebody who might not have a conscience,” says Tubridy. 

Tubridy pay cut

“You knew the two payments were going through for €75,000.

“You would have also known that RTÉ had agreed to underwrite that agreement,” said Munster.

“So in fact, it was the taxpayers, it was the licence fee holders that were paying that money.”

Tubridy said there “seems to be a misunderstanding”.

Munster said she has say through three weeks of this and there is no misunderstanding on her behalf. 

Crisis PR

When asked by Marc Ó Cathasaigh if he has received paid-for crisis PR, Tubridy said he “assembled a team of people to talk with and to get the best advice”.

When asked if this was paid consultancy, Tubridy said he “presumes they weren’t doing it for free”.

He then denies he was advised to submit this morning’s documentation so late and that he was “burning the midnight oil” in preparation for today. 

'Frustrating session to watch'

The leader of Seanad Éireann Lisa Chambers has posted on social media that the session is “frustrating to watch”. 

“It’s quite a frustrating session to watch, the witnesses are not really being allowed to answer fully or elaborate, they keep getting cut off,” said Chambers. 

'Did you not raise concerns?'

Colm Burke asks Noel Kelly why he didn’t “raise concerns” when he saw that invoices were to be paid to a UK company.

“The service was delivered in Ireland for Irish companies; did that not raise concerns from an accounting point of view? 

“You say in your statement that you knew nothing about the barter account?”

Kelly says he “didn’t raise the question”. 

'I want to get back to my listeners'

When asked by Colm Burke if he wants to continue working with RTÉ, Tubridy says: “I don’t have any doubt, I want to get back to work on the radio as soon as possible”.

“I want to get back to my team and to the listeners,” adds Tubridy. 

“I understand that the amount of money we are talking about is eye-watering, I’m not a fool, I understand that.

“But I haven’t changed as a person over those years,” said Tubridy. 

“I’ve been dragged into a mess not of my own making,” said Tubridy.

Adds that the only thing he has for his colleagues who have beem watching on is “respect”. 

'The most trusted man in Ireland'

Cormac Devlin says children are “wondering why the toy man is on the news so much.”

Tubridy replies that his “relationship with the children of Ireland is so important to me”,

“I know that sounds grandiose,” says Tubridy, “but I want them to be happy and hopeful and proud to be Irish and read lots of books and just be wonderful young people.”

Kelly then claims that Tubridy is “the most trusted man in Ireland” who was been “thrown under the bus”. 

“This has been the worst of times the worst of times,” adds Kelly. 

'I don't know if any of you have been cancelled?'

Tubridy claims he has “never seen anything like it” when referring to the media scrutiny surrounding this controversy. 

“This is my first rodeo being in the public eye,” said Tubridy.

“I’ve never seen anything like it.

“I don’t know if any of you’ve been canceled before but let me tell you, you don’t want to be there,” adds Tubridy. 

“People have families.”

'Til the last dog barks'

Ryan Tubridy becomes animated when John Brady questions the timeline of Tubridy leaving The Late Late Show. 

“I will be here until the last dog barks until you believe me that that decision came from my heart and soul and that the kernel of it was last August.”

Consultancy fees

John Brady asks Noel Kelly whose idea it was to label invoices relating to Tubridy as “consultancy fees”.

Kelly says it was RTÉ’s suggestion. 

“You issued the invoices labeled consultancy fees, knowing that there was no consultancy fee?”, asked Brady.

Kelly repeats that he “acted under instruction from RTÉ”. 

Ten minute break

During questioning from John Brady, the committee agrees to a quick ten minute break. 

Clear up 'untruths'

Verona Murphy again questions a link between Tubidy’s Late Late departure and the scandal coming to light.

“It was one of the untruths I really, really wanted to clear up here today,” said Tubridy.

“There was no connection between this fiasco and my departure from the Late Late Show, I promise you.”

Watched proceedings 'aghast'

Tubridy claims he watched proceedings “quite aghast”. 

Adds that he hopes the “seven untruths” he raised this morning were a “misunderstanding” rather than an intention on RTÉ’s part to “deceive”. 

'We were under siege'

Kelly claims he “had to stop looking” at proceedings and that he and Tubridy were “under siege”. 

Murphy questions the differance between an “untruth” and a “lie”. 

There are calls for people to be careful with language used. 

'Following process'

“We have always followed process every single time,” says Noel Kelly when asked by Alan Dillon if he had acted “wrecklessly”. 

Kelly adds that he has “nothing to do with Renault”.

Dillion asks if Kelly colluded with RTÉ to conceal invoices as “consultancy fees”. 

“We’re a small company of eight people. They’re a massive company with accountants and auditors. We were just following process,” said Kelly.

He adds that the “lack of credibility” lies with RTÉ when asked why he invoiced a company in the UK that he had never heard of. 

'I believe' Kelly, says Tubridy

When asked who was responsible for “concealing the truth”, Tubridy says: “I believe the person sitting to my left and what he tells me. I believe what he’s told you.”

Tubridy confirms that he believes Kelly “did what he was instructed to do by RTÉ”. 

'You received additional money, they did not'

Paul McAuliffe asks how Tubridy will be able to “go into the canteen, look in the eye of the person serving a cup of coffee” after all of this. 

“You’re describing my friends,” said Tubridy.

When McAuliffe said “the facts of the situation were that you received additional money and they did not”, Tubridy replies that he “tried not to shirk my responsibilty”. 

'There was no drop in salary'

Alan Kelly said the late sending of the documents for today’s hearings by Tubridy and Kelly was “insulting” and that it “didn’t go down well” and came “too late”. 

Kelly then says “there was no 20% drop in salary in real terms, and to say so has no credibility whatsoever”. 

“Given the €75,000 and the varioud different payments, it was absorbed in a different way, that is quite obvious.”

'Emails from Nigerian cousins'

Alan Kelly said nothing Noel Kelly has said is “credible” and claims: “You’ve got serious accountancy issues here.”

“I’ve got all of these emails coming in to me from these Nigerian cousins saying I won the lotto.

“And they’re instructing me to do X, Y, Z.

“I don’t do it. I think you’ve got serious accountancy issues here. I think your companies have serious accountancy issues here.

“Based on what the evidence you’re giving here, because the fact is, this is not how companies behave.”

Pub viewings

Several pubs claimed in the lead-up to today’s hearings that they would be showing proceedings in the pub, and indeed they followed through. 

The Camden Bar pictured below showing Tubridy before the committee:

630Camden Bar The Camden Bar Eamonn Farrell / RollingNews.ie) Eamonn Farrell / RollingNews.ie) / RollingNews.ie)

'Are you employed by RTÉ?'

“Are you employed by RTÉ or not?” Alan Kelly puts to Tubridy.

He labels the Toy Show musical an “unmitigated disaster”.

“From the outset, did you think this was a disaster and a bad idea and you wanted nothing to do with it?”

Tubridy says his understanding is that he is still in contract with RTÉ and that his “aim and hope” is to go back to work there.

On the Toy Show Musical, Tubridy says “people in our team were trying to dream big”.

But he adds: “I always wish them well with that, but it wasn’t for me.”

You can read more about what else Tubridy has had to say regarding the ill-fated musical during today’s committee hearing here.

'Strange to want to go back'

Catherine Murphy says it is “strange” that Tubridy wants to go back to work with RTÉ “given all of the issues that you’ve documented in your booklet and the opening statement”. 

“You obviously feel RTÉ has badly damaged you,” says Murphy.

Tubridy replies that it is the past three weeks that have been damaging and “not necessarily RTÉ as an institution”.

Acknowledges “beef” with some at RTÉ but says he wants to get back to work. 

Committee prep

James O’Connor asks Tubridy how much time he needs to prepare for interviewing a major guests.

“Days and weeks,” says Tubridy.

O’Connor then notes that members were sent a 39-page document relating to the committee hearing at around 8.30am this morning, with the committee beginning at 11am. 

Tubridy apologises for how late the documentation was sent. 

James O’Connor questions why Renault deal continued during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

O’Connor says there’s a “perception” that taxpayers picked up the tab. 

“That’s not correct,” replies Noel Kelly. 

O’Connor then questions how so great a chasm has formed between Kelly’s and RTÉ’s version of events. 

Dee Forbes

Brian Stanley says senior staff at RTÉ have described Noel Kelly’s and Dee Forbe’s relationship as “close”.

Kelly has said several times he’s only met Forbes a few times.

Kelly said he has only met Forbes in a work settings with lawyers present. 

'Leverage and power'

Brian Stanley says Kelly has significant power and influence at RTÉ and adds that people have told him over the years that he has more power than RTÉ’s director general. 

“This hasn’t been said by somebody on the street corner, it’s been said by senior people working in RTÉ.”

First hearing brought to a close

Brian Stanley draws proceedings to a close, but Tubridy and Kelly will be back in an hour’s time for another three-hour round of questioning. 

Tubridy says “thank you” to the committee.

“I’m sure there are more pressing issues in the world, but at the same time that’s not to belittle what we are talking about,” said Tubridy. 

End of round one

The first of today’s two hearings have concluded and with that, we are also closing this live blog. 

However, we’ll be back in under an hour with a new live blog when the second three-hour round of hearings begin at 3pm.

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