Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Sunday Times' silent over letter written for disgraced journalist

Tom Humphries
Tom Humphries
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The 'Sunday Times' has failed to say whether it condones the actions of one of its senior journalists, who provided a testimonial letter for paedophile Tom Humphries.

The newspaper said it was "looking into" the matter, but did not answer any questions about the appropriateness of its employee showing support for the disgraced sports writer.

Its silence came as a group working with survivors of sexual abuse expressed concern about the practice of submitting testimonial letters.

Rape Crisis Networks Ireland executive director Clíona Saidléar said: "Putting sexual predators on a pedestal renders victims vulnerable. It helps them [predators] with their predation. It silences victims."

Handed

The letter by the 'Sunday Times' journalist, which said Humphries was "hugely regarded" and "hugely respected" as a sports writer, was handed to Judge Karen O'Connor at a sentencing hearing on Tuesday.

Another letter from a well-known former inter-county hurler was also handed to the judge by counsel for Humphries, detailing voluntary work the journalist did in the GAA.

The former hurling star also said he was "extremely shocked and disappointed" by Humphries' actions.

The 'Sunday Times' press office in London did not respond to questions on the issue yesterday - and it is unclear if management were informed by the journalist that he was submitting the letter.

He was described in court as the newspaper's chief sports writer, but was not otherwise identified. He has not responded to requests for comment.

Unaware

The editor of the 'Sunday Times' Ireland edition, Frank Fitzgibbon, has said he was unaware of any testimonial and that his edition of the newspaper did not have a chief sports writer.

However, the journalist at the centre of the furore regularly appears in the Irish edition of the newspaper and won an award for his work in Ireland.

It is the second time in just over two months the newspaper has been embroiled in controversy.

Last July, it sacked columnist Kevin Myers after it published a piece containing offensive remarks about Jewish people.

Irish Independent

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