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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Sandra Mallon

RTE says ex-Director General Dee Forbes was the only one who could have known Ryan Tubridy's published pay was wrong

Ex-RTE Director General Dee Forbes was the only person who could have known that Ryan Tubridy's published salary was wrong over the last five years in RTE, according to a bombshell statement from interim RTE Director General Adrian Lynch.

Mr Lynch said no member of the RTÉ Executive Board other than Ms Forbes could've known that Tubridy's figures were wrong.

An independent Grant Thornton trawled through hundreds of thousands of euro paid to Ryan Tubridy in deals not publicly declared.

READ MORE: Gardaí confirm they are not investigating RTÉ payments issues at this stage

The report was conducted by Paul Jacobs, Partner and Head of the Forensic & Investigation Services unit at Grant Thornton. Mr Jacobs is a specialist forensic accountant.

Investigating how RTÉ typically negotiates the contracts of its top 10 most highly paid on-air presenters, Mr Lynch said: "Once it has been agreed in principle by the relevant editorial lead the process of negotiating the contracts of RTÉ’s top 10 most highly paid on-air presenters is conducted by the CFO, with advice from the legal department.

"Input regarding the services required, such as, programming and commitments to hours of broadcasting would typically be provided by the relevant editorial lead – the Director of Content or the Director of News and Current Affairs and the Director of Audience Channels and Marketing.

"Final approval of fees to be paid to RTÉ’s top 10 most highly paid on-air presenters is by the Director General."

The statement also said that Ms Forbes "has not had the opportunity to respond" to the details set out in this new statement and "may therefore challenge or disagree with our understanding and position."

The statement added that "no former employees were asked to or contributed to this statement".

Mr Lynch also said that there there was "no illegality" found by Grant Thornton according to legal advice and payments were made to Mr Tubridy "pursuant to an agreed contract."

The report also found that Tubridy "was not aware" of a credit note "provided by RTE to the commercial partner".

The findings found: "The Grant Thornton review makes no finding of wrongdoing on the part of Ryan Tubridy in relation to any payments made by RTÉ.

"The Grant Thornton review makes no finding of wrongdoing on the part of the commercial partner."

But Grant Thornton said invoices for €75,000 each on 9 May 2022 and 6 July 2022, were sent by Noel Kelly, Tubridy's agent, sent to the Barter Company.

"Each invoice had the description “Consultancy Fees”."

The report found that the description of consultancy fees "did not reflect "the substance of the transactions" and that Mr Kelly "did not provide consultancy" and "the Talent did not provide consultancy."

The report says: "The evidence is inconclusive as to who came up with the phrase “Consultancy Fees”.

"On the balance of probabilities these two invoices that referenced “Consultancy Fees” related to Year 2 (2021) and Year 3 (2022) of the Talent’s contract and the arrangement identified under the “Commercial relationship”.

Ms Forbes confirmed she will not attend the Oireachtas Committee on Media on Wednesday due to ill health, a spokesperson said.

It comes after Ray D'Arcy broke his silence over RTE paying his colleague Ryan Tubridy €345,000 more than was previously declared - saying "it's a terrible mess".

The radio and TV host joined a host of other RTE stars in revealing his salary, saying he agreed to take a 15 per cent pay cut in 2019 when he was asked to.

D'Arcy, who was paid €450,000 back in 2019, then earned fees of €305,000 in 2020 and 2021, and now earns €250,000 per year.

He said: "This is a terrible mess. On a human level I feel for the people involved but also share the feelings of anger and disappointment of many people around the country and in RTE.

"For the record, I haven’t got an agent.

"All of my salary figures to date have been reported correctly.

"When asked, I agreed to take a more than 15 per cent cut in 2019.

"My current salary is €250,000."

Joe Duffy declared his salary live on air on his RTE Radio 1 show.

The host revealed he gets paid €351,000 with the Dubliner breaking down the costs.

The Ballyfermot native said he gets paid €300,000 for radio, and a further €51,000 for other TV projects he is doing. He is currently hosting the Meaning of Life and previous episodes of Liveline Callback and Children of the Troubles.

He said on his RTE Radio 1 show: “I’ve never been offered, never rejected, never received, never been involved in any outside… the figures that are on my contract are the exact figures I receive.”

Liveline has been without a sponsor for about a year – with Joe jokingly admitting that no one wants to sponsor his show given that it broadcasts criticism about everyone.

The broadcaster said he signed a four-year contract in 2019, and this year agreed to a two-year extension with the “exact same conditions, no changes and no increases".

He said he only agreed to a four-year contract as he “didn’t know what health I would be in in 2023”, but that RTÉ asked if a clause could be inserted which would give the option of invoking an extra two years.

“I said I would gladly do another two years,” he said.

Prime Time host Miriam O’Callaghan said she has been “incredibly sad” over the furore but the mother of eight said she didn’t know the story “was coming down the tracks”, adding she feels like listeners and viewers “have been badly let down”.

In a statement she said: “For the purpose of transparency, honesty and clarity, I want to put on the record that my most recently published fee from RTE – €263,500 – is correct, as are the published fees for previous years.

“I have never received additional payments from RTE that were not publicly declared.

“It’s hard to put into words how incredibly sad I have been since this story broke last Thursday.

“I had no idea this was coming down the tracks. I feel you, our listeners and viewers, have been badly let down.

“I love RTE – it’s a wonderful place to work, full of superb people who work very hard and conscientiously every day to deliver good programmes.

“Right now, there’s profound shock, anger and sadness among everyone working there.

“All we can do as journalists now, is cover this story as rigorously as we cover every other story.

“That’s what we did on Prime Time last Thursday, on the day the story first broke, and that is what we will continue to do.”

Claire Byrne was the first to declare her salary insisting to her listeners that she was “being honest” about how much she earns.

She was once on €350,000 but dropped to €280,000 after quitting Claire Byrne Live, losing out on €70K. She earned €25K extra for hosting quiz show Ireland’s Smartest this year.

She said: “I hope you can trust me,” she said on her radio show on RTE Radio 1, adding that she realised this is an amount “way beyond what many people would hope to earn”.

She said that she had "no prior warning, no inkling that there was a problem on the horizon".

"My most recent published fee was €350,000. This was the fee agreed by RTÉ, for me to present this radio programme and Claire Byrne Live and as you know, I decided not to continue with that television show for personal and family reasons," she said.

"And so, in order to be fully transparent with you, I want you to know that my RTÉ fee now is €280,000 and that fee is for presenting this programme."

Ms Byrne said that that last contract was negotiated by her agent Noel Kelly of NK Management.

She added that she recently presented Ireland's Smartest and for that, she was paid a separate fee of €25,000. That contract was negotiated by other members of the NK Management company, she said.

"I acknowledge that fee is significant and way beyond what many people could hope to earn. There are others who will, no doubt, have more to say about it I am sure, but my personal decision here this morning is to be open and honest with you," she said.

Ms Byrne said she listened to Friday's Liveline and the callers who spoke about "being disappointed and they talked about trust being broken and the importance of transparency".

"For me, and for the great people I work with every day on this show, hearing that is nothing short of heartbreaking," she said.

"As programme-makers, our aim is to be consistent, fair, and professional and to respect the hard-earned trust that you, the audience, has in us."

Ms Byrne said she "never sought, been offered or discussed any kind of commercial or side deal" and that no other payment exists or has ever existed beyond her published fee.

With that fee that she earns, she said, comes "a duty for me to treat this position with respect and I hope that you can trust me and the team of journalists I work with, to cover this story with the same rigour and balance as we would any other story on this programme".

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