Tesco has found itself at the centre of an Irish state probe into why a cap on superstore size was eased. The cap was imposed by environment minister Noel Dempsey two years ago, following a campaign by independent retailers' group RGDATA, public representatives and others against UK style out of town superstore developments. Now a parliamentary committee is to be asked to investigate why a government decision to cap shopping centre developments at 3,500 square metres gross was changed, following pressure from Tesco and a property developer. The committee will also attempt to discover which Irish Cabinet member leaked the decision about the size of the cap being imposed, so enabling an intensive lobbying campaign to be mounted. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who has been heavily criticised by opposition parties for refusing to order an inquiry into the leak, is likely to be called to testify by the committee. The unusual circumstances surrounding the decision have only now emerged in documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. They show that, following the Cabinet leak, intense political lobbying by Tesco and Irish property developer Owen O'Callaghan succeeded in having the government decision changed from a limit of 3,500 square metres gross to 3,000 square metres net. Gross size covers the total space, including storage, while net relates only to the actual shopping space. According to property experts, the new limit is much more advantageous to those seeking to build larger stores. O'Callaghan, a Cork millionaire and the man behind the huge Liffey Valley Shopping Centre, is a major financial contributor to Fianna Fail, led by Ahern. In the campaign against the limit, both the developer and Tesco employed political lobbyist Frank Dunlop, currently under investigation by a tribunal examining allegations of corruption in the Irish planning system. {{NEWS }}