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Tuesday 24 September 2019

Call to sack writer over court letter supporting paedophile Tom Humphries

Tom Humphries
Tom Humphries

Breda Heffernan and Conor Feehan

Abuse survivor Fiona Doyle has called for 'Sunday Times' writer David Walsh to be sacked for saying he could not "abandon" disgraced ex-colleague Tom Humphries, his friend of 30 years.

Ms Doyle, an outspoken campaigner for victims, described Mr Walsh's defence of writing a character reference for paedophile Humphries as "sickening".

Mr Walsh broke his silence in yesterday's 'Sunday Times' to explain why he had written the reference which was handed in to court last week.

"The young girl whose trust Tom betrayed has suffered terribly from this crime.

David Walsh
David Walsh

"I wrote a personal character reference for Tom because we have been friends for 30 years and, despite the serious wrong he had done, I could not abandon him," he said.

But speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Ms Doyle said Mr Walsh's defence of Humphries was "unbelievable".

"What an awful stupid thing to say. He has obviously never dealt with anybody who has suffered from abuse.

"George Hook got hung out to dry for what he said, and rightly so. This guy [Walsh] needs to be sacked for what he did," she added.

Fiona Doyle
Fiona Doyle

"To give a reference for a paedophile goes beyond comprehension.

"Humphries is guilty of sex abuse and that's all that the court should need to know about his character."

Referring to the recent controversy surrounding Newstalk presenter Mr Hook, and his comments on a rape case, Ms Doyle said both he and Mr Walsh should speak to rape and sex abuse victims to get an insight into the horrors they face.

"Maybe then they might change their mind, if they spent some time with an abuse victim," she said.

Humphries will be sentenced later this month after admitting two charges of engaging in a sexual act with a girl under 17.

He has also admitted four counts of sexually exploiting the same child.

In his character reference for former 'Irish Times' journalist Humphries, Mr Walsh describes him as a "hugely regarded" and "hugely respected" sports writer.

Mr Walsh was described in court as being the 'Sunday Times' chief sports writer, but was not otherwise identified.

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

However in the 'Sunday Times' yesterday, Mr Walsh was described as the newspaper's "chief sports writer".

Humphries was moved from Cloverhill Prison to the Midlands Prison last Thursday over fears he would be attacked by other inmates.

"There were fears, given the high-profile nature of this inmate, that he would be a target as long as he remained in Cloverhill Prison," a source said.

"He is regarded as a suicide risk and, until that changes, he will remain under special observation by officers."

Irish Independent

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