Wednesday 21 February 2018

'I know more than most people do - and I know that Tom's a fine man'

Radio interview reveals Walsh's extraordinary defence of paedophile

David Walsh
David Walsh
Tom Humphries

Luke Byrne and Shane Phelan

The 'Sunday Times' is expected to break its silence on the support from one of its senior journalists for Tom Humphries after the paedophile is sentenced later this month.

The shift in the newspaper's position came as an extraordinary, previously unbroadcast interview with its chief sports writer, David Walsh, was aired on Today FM.

In the interview, Mr Walsh repeatedly defended Humphries, describing him as "a fine man".

The newspaper has so far refused to say if it condones the actions of Mr Walsh, who provided a testimonial for Humphries that was handed to a judge at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last week. A spokeswoman for the newspaper said last night it had decided not to make any comment while the case was ongoing.

Humphries is set to be sentenced on October 24 for two counts of defiling an under-age girl and four counts of sexual exploitation.

The interview was recorded in December 2012, while Mr Walsh was promoting his book 'Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong'.

At the time, former 'Irish Times' sports journalist Humphries had been under investigation for alleged sexual relations with an under-age girl for the previous 21 months. He had been arrested and questioned three months previously.

In the interview with Matt Cooper, Mr Walsh claimed he knew about the charges in the case "better than most people".

"I maybe know a bit more than most people about the charges and about the situation that Tom has found himself in.

"There's no question in my mind that he is a fine man," he said.

He denied that praising Humphries in those circumstances was provocative.

"No, I don't believe its provocative at all and I believe it's a statement that I believe to be true. We're not really in a position here to discuss the minutiae of the case. That will be decided. I know Tom and I've known him for a long time and he's a great, great man. And as we know, he's an incredibly talented writer.

Read More: Drug cheat Armstrong 'appalled' by position of his nemesis David Walsh

"He is a fine man and I will always believe that. All I would say about the Tom situation is I know a damn sight more than most people and I believe Tom is a fine man. And I believe that in the end, that will come out and people will understand he's a fine man.

"And I guarantee you, anybody who knows Tom and has remained in touch with him over the last two-and-a-half years will offer you exactly the same view that I am offering. And they will have no doubts and Tom has shown himself to be a fine man through this."

Over the weekend, Walsh said he "couldn't abandon" his long-time friend Humphries, when asked to explain why he had provided the testimonial.

The court heard the testimonial referred to Humphries's career, stating "that he was a hugely regarded, hugely respected, national figure".

Mr Walsh's defence of the letter led to abuse survivor Fiona Doyle calling for him to be sacked. She described it as "sickening" and "unbelievable".

Mr Walsh did not return a call from the Irish Independent seeking comment.

Irish Independent

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