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Andres Poveda
Noel Kelly

Ryan Tubridy hits out at RTÉ in defiant statement, claiming 'seven untruths'

The presenter will be questioned at TDs at two committees today.

RYAN TUBRIDY WILL tell politicians this morning that the RTÉ payments scandal is his “darkest hour professionally and personally” and will also claim there are “seven untruths” about him in relation to the controversy.

The presenter and his agent Noel Kelly will face questions from two Oireachtas committees today over RTÉ’s failure to disclose €345,000 worth of payments to him.

The much-anticipated hearings come after almost three weeks of revelations at the public service broadcaster, which began after it emerged that RTÉ paid Tubridy over €345,000 more than it officially declared between 2017 and 2022.

The former Late Late Show host has been off air since the controversy began, and has only issued two statements – both in the opening days of the scandal in late June.

This morning’s hearing of the Public Accounts Committee is the first time that TDs and the wider public will have heard from Tubridy in weeks, and his opening remarks will address what he describes as “seven material untruths” about the payments debacle.

“Given the events of the last three weeks, there is a lot that I wish and need to say, and I hope you will bear with me,” he will tell politicians this morning.

“My aim is to help correct and clarify some very serious matters and I will be relying on my agent Noel Kelly to go through the figures and provide greater detail.

“I want everybody here today to understand that the figures and statements presented by RTÉ over the last few weeks in relation to my remuneration have created a fog of confusion over what I was paid and when I was paid, what I knew and when I knew.”

Before outlining the various “untruths” about him, Tubridy will take aim at his employer and claim that “full transparency and disclosure” from the national broadcaster in recent weeks would have prevented the confusion about his own role in the controversy.

‘Seven material untruths’

Tubridy will say the only thing he is before the committee to do is to “set the record straight” and call out “seven material untruths” about his role in the controversy.

He will claim that the first “untruth” about him is that he did not take a pay cut from RTÉ in 2020 – and that he actually took a 20% cut in his contract from 2020 to 2025, at a cost of €525,000 to him personally.

The presenter will defend his additional work outside RTÉ, after criticism of a secret commercial payment worth €75,000 that he received from Renault to present three live Late Late Show events for the car manufacturer in 2020.

He will suggest that this extra payment – which was underwritten and guaranteed by RTÉ, before being paid to him again in 2021 and 2022 after Renault pulled out of the arrangement – did not feature as part of this pay cut.

“Under the terms of my contract I am allowed to do additional work outside of RTÉ,” he will say.

“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.” 

The “second untruth” that Tubridy will address will be the suggestion that his decision to retire from the Late Late Show in March was prompted by the controversy.

There has been speculation around the fact that the overpayments issue at RTÉ was being examined by auditors time at the same time Tubridy made his announcement.

However, the presenter will say that he made his initial decision to step down from the show almost a year ago.

“I had left a lot on the studio floor after Covid. I was burnt out and exhausted – like so many people in the country,” he will say.

“I turned it over in my mind over a few months, but by the time I got to January, I was absolutely certain of my decision. I was convinced that it was time to go.

“There is zero connection between my departure and this very raw situation of recent weeks.”

Tubridy will further outline that he informed RTÉ management of his decision on 13 March, but that he did not become aware that the national broadcaster had appointed external auditors Grant Thornton to review its finances until May.

“Even then, I had no inkling of the bombshell which was to come when RTÉ released their statement on 22 June,” he will add.

‘Secret’ overpayments

Tubridy will also address what he says is a “third untruth” that he received secret overpayments from the national broadcaster, and will claim that he was paid in accordance with his contract.

He will once again take aim at his employer, when he will claim that he challenged RTÉ on its “under-declarations” about his pay in 2020 and also that RTÉ overstated what it paid him in 2020 and 2021.

“This has caused justifiable anger among my colleagues. I understand their anger,” he will say.

“The upshot of RTÉ’s inaccurate declarations is an impression that I have been less than honest. This is not the case.”

Tubridy will also claim that there is a linked “fourth untruth” that he was aware that RTÉ were trying to conceal payments to him.

“This is not true. I was not aware that RTÉ were concealing payments to me,” he will say.

“RTÉ acknowledge this in their statement of 27 June 2023 when they stated that Grant Thornton had made no findings against me.”

He will likewise claim that there is a similar “fifth untruth” that he tried to conceal a “secret arrangement” with Renault.

The presenter will once again outline that the payments were part of a separate commercial arrangement with the car manufacturer, “the basis of which was that I would make public appearances and perform roadshows for them”.

“The work that I have done for Renault is all over social media. The suggestion that this was secret just makes no sense,” he will add.

In addition, Tubridy will also say that RTÉ’s decision to underwrite the deal was not a secret either, because it featured as part of his contract negotiations.

He will say this was confirmed in a subsequent email which was copied to the broadcaster’s executive board, its solicitor and then-Director General Dee Forbes.

“Everyone in RTE who needed to know knew [...] Far from being secret, it was well known,” the presenter will tell the committee.

‘My darkest hour professionally and personally’

In what he will claim is the seventh and final “untruth”, Tubridy will seek to address claims that he did not ask RTÉ why the national broadcaster undeclared his earnings from 2017 to 2019 when it released figures about his salary in 2021.

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

However, Tubridy will seek to explain this via a €120,000 loyalty payment that he received upon the expiry of his previous contract, which lasted from 2015 to 2020.

He will claim that he didn’t invoice for this bonus, and that he did not receive it.

“In my simple view, I had foregone a €120,000 payment – not taken it,” Tubridy will say.

“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 this payment, and I didn’t receive one cent of it. I hid nothing. I had nothing to hide.”

Tubridy will further tell committee members that his agent Noel Kelly told RTÉ in 2020 that the pair thought the broadcaster’s accounting for his payments from 2017 to 2019 was incorrect.

“I would like to add that my company earnings fully reflect what I earned in these and all subsequent years,” he will say.

The presenter will also express his disappointment at the way in which RTÉ’s initial statement on the scandal at the end of June linked his name “to this whole fiasco”, and he will claim he was not consulted despite being mentioned 15 times in that statement.

He says he has become the “face of a national scandal, accused of being complicit, deceitful and dishonest” as a result of that statement, issued on 22 June.

“I take full responsibility for not asking more questions back on 20 January, 2021 when the figures for 2017, 2018 and 2019 were released,” he will say.

“I take responsibility for that. This has been my darkest hour both professionally and personally. I know the same is true for my agent and friend, Noel Kelly and his family.”

Tubridy will also express “respect and admiration” for “decent hardworking people in RTÉ” and apologise for the difficulty caused to those who have suffered because of the “dripping of new revelations”.

“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,” he will say.

“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.”

You can read Tubridy’s statement in full here:
https://cdn.thejournal.ie/media/2023/07/r2029-ii-pac33-a-r-tubridy-opening-statement.pdf

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