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Today FM Release Previously Unheard Interview With David Walsh About Tom Humphries

Today FM Release Previously Unheard Interview With David Walsh About Tom Humphries
By PJ Browne
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Yesterday's Sunday Times carried brief quotes from David Walsh explaining why he had given a character reference for Tom Humphries.

The former Irish Times sportswriter recently pleaded guilty to six charges relating to the sexual abuse of a young girl. Walsh said he 'could not abandon' someone who had been a friend for 30 years. It was reported by the Irish Independent last week that in the character reference, Walsh called Humphries 'hugely regarded' and 'hugely respected'.

On Today FM on Monday evening, Matt Cooper presented further material showing Walsh's support of Humphries when he played a previously unheard interview with Walsh from December 2012.

Walsh appeared on The Last Word with Matt Cooper at the time to speak about this book 'Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit Of Lance Armstrong'. The acknowledgements for that book referred to Humphries as 'a fine man'. This was an inclusion which Cooper questioned Walsh about.

Cooper also mentioned that Walsh had brought up Humphries unprompted earlier in the interview, citing his work surrounding Michelle Smith and Atlanta '96 as being an inspiration for what came later in his journalism career.

Allegations about Humphries had entered the public domain 20 months prior to the Today FM interview when he was named by the Sunday World as being the subject of a Garda investigation.


Cooper prefaced the playing of the interview by explaining why it had not been previously broadcast.


"No charges had been brought as of yet. So Tom Humphries was, in the eyes of the law, an innocent man. For me to say otherwise would have been to risk an action against me and the station for libel. I had to choose my words carefully. Though I - along with many other journalists - had heard the stories about Humphries' behaviour which turned out to be true."

In the interview, Walsh reiterated his statement from the book, again calling Humphries 'a fine man'. He also said that he knew 'a damn sight more' about Humphries' situation than most people.

Cooper: I noticed in the book how you wrote about you and Paul Kimmage and him [Tom Humphries] being at events such as the Olympics in 1996 and I could understand why you had those pieces included in your book but in your acknowledgements at the end, as well as saying 'Tom Humphries is by some distance the most talented sportswriter I've ever read' and that's something you said as well in this interview earlier, you then followed with a four-line sentence: 'A fine man too'.

Given what is out there in the public about Tom Humphries, was that not a little bit provocative to make a comment like that? Even if he is your friend.

Walsh: No, I don't believe it's provocative at all Matt. I believe it's a statement 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've known Tom and I've known him for a long time. He's a great, great man. As we know, he's an incredibly talented writer.

Which are two different things.

Walsh: Yes, of course they are different things. In my view he is a fine man. I will always believe that. I maybe know a bit more than most people about the charges and about the situation which Tom has found himself in.

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

Cooper: Can I put it to you, David, that the problem I had - and I'm not saying that he's not a fine man, I'm not saying he's a fine man . I'm not making any comments because I don't know Tom Humphries well, I've only met him on a couple of occasions, interviewed him on a couple of occasions.

Given what's in the public domain and what has come into the domain, would it not appear strange to people in that you're defending him and in some respects it's a bit parallel with the Lance Armstrong situation. If somebody had defended Lance Armstrong in the way you're defending him, you would not have believed them

Walsh: No Matt - I think the comparison you've made is odious, I really do. I think, completely inappropriate.

All that I would say about the Tom situation, all that I am going to say is that I know a damn sight more about it than most people; and I believe Tom is a fine man. I believe that in the end that will come out and people will understand that he is a fine man. I guarantee you that 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 - they will have no doubts. Tom has shown himself to be a fine man through this.

Cooper finished the piece by reading from the victim impact statement, along with saying:


We didn't broadcast any of this at the time. I don't think it's unfair to do so now because David Walsh effectively doubled down on his support for Humphries by his plea to the judge and his comments to the Sunday Times yesterday.

It is somewhat incredible that a man who was correctly among those who pursued Lance Armstrong and exposed him as a fraud has given a character reference for Humphries in light of what was known about him at the time he gave that interview to me.

Tom Humphries isn't a victim in any of this and nor is he a fine man. His GAA involvement is not a mitigating reference, especially when he abused that position to take advantage of a vulnerable girl.

You can listen to the full piece, including the David Walsh interview, on the Today FM website.

Journalist Paul Howard, famous for being the author of the Ross O'Carroll Kelly books, has also provided further information regarding Walsh's support for Humphries.

Howard tweeted on Monday evening that Walsh had asked him five years ago about setting up sports magazine 'essentially for the benefit of Tom Humphries'.

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