'He is a fine man and I will always believe that' - The 2012 Matt Cooper interview where David Walsh defended Tom Humphries
Sunday Times chief sportswriter David Walsh described paedophile Tom Humphries as a 'great, great man' in a 2012 interview that was aired this evening for the first time.
Walsh also claimed at the time that he knew "a bit more than most people about the charges and the situation Tom has found himself in".
Walsh was interviewed by Today FM broadcaster Matt Cooper for his radio show, The Last Word, in December 2012, three months after Humphries was arrested on suspicion of child sex offences. The interview was not aired at the time due to legal reasons. Walsh featured on the programme to publicise his book 'Seven Deadly Sins', in which he wrote about his quest to expose cycling drugs cheat Lance Armstrong.
During the interview with Cooper, the Today FM broadcaster asked Walsh whether it was provocative to describe Humphries as a 'fine man' in the acknowledgement of his book.
"I don't believe it is provocative at all, it is a statement that I believe to be true," Walsh said.
"I know Tom and I have known him for a long time and he is a great, great man. As we know, he is an incredibly talented writer.
"In my view, he is a fine man and I will always believe that. I maybe know a bit more than most people about the charges and the situation Tom has found himself in. There is no question in my mind that he is a fine man."
Cooper then asked how Walsh would have reacted when someone defended Lance Armstrong, and whether there were any similarities to the Sunday Times sportswriter sticking up for Humphries.
"No Matt, I think the comparison you made is odious, I really do," Walsh said.
"I think completely inappropriate. All I am going to say is, I know a damn sight more about it than most people and I believe Tom is a fine man, and in the end that will come out and people will understand he is a fine man.
"And I guarantee you, anyone 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. They will have no doubts and Tom has shown himself to be a fine man through this."
Walsh's character reference for Humphries prompted some criticism last week. Walsh was contacted numerous times for comment, but did not do so.
Over the weekend, Walsh broke his silence and was quoted in a Sunday Times article on Tom Humphries, as saying: "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."
Tom Humphries was arrested in September 2012 and was charged in February 2014.
This interview was conducted in December 2012 when Walsh was publicising his book, Seven Deadly Sins, about his quest to expose cycling drugs cheat Lance Armstrong.
Humphries, who was a sportswriter for the Irish Times for almost 20 years, pleaded guilty earlier this year to six offences, dating from 2010 and 2011, including the sexual exploitation and defilement of a child.
Last week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, it emerged that Walsh wrote a character reference for Humphries.
The court heard how Humphries had picked the then 16-year-old girl up from her school and brought her to his apartment where he sexually abused her.
The first contact between Humphries and his teenage victim was initiated by a text message from Humphries when the young girl was 14 years of age. The correspondence between them continued for two years. The court heard that they exchanged 16,000 messages over a three-month period alone.
In her victim impact statement, she said that she went through stages of feeling 'physically sick' and that she had lost her childhood.
Humphries will be sentenced on October 24.