David Walsh told Today FM in 2012 Tom Humphries a ‘fine man’

Interview took place after allegations against former ‘Irish Times’ sports writer became public

Tom Humphries: due to  be sentenced on October 24th.   Photograph: Collins Courts

Tom Humphries: due to be sentenced on October 24th. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

Journalist David Walsh described Tom Humphries as “a fine man” on numerous occasions during an interview recorded in 2012 which has just been broadcast.

Humphries, a former Irish Times sports journalist, will be sentenced later this month for grooming a girl when she was 14 years old and sexually abusing her over two years.

Walsh, chief sports writer for the Sunday Times, provided a character reference for Humphries along with a former GAA player.

Today FM’s The Last Word programme broadcast a previously unheard interview on Monday between Matt Cooper and Mr Walsh, recorded in December 2012, but not then broadcast.

No charges had been brought against Humphries at the time of the interview but the allegations were in the public domain and a Garda investigation had started.

Cooper asked Walsh was it “a little bit provocative” to describe Humphries as “a fine man too” in his book Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong given “what is out there in the public”.

“No I don’t believe it’s provocative at all, Matt. I believe it’s a statement that I believe to be true and we’re not really in a position here to discuss the minutes of the case. That will be decided,” Walsh responded.

He continued: “In my view he is a fine man and I will always believe that and I maybe know a bit more than most people about the charges and about the situation that Tom has found himself in.”

‘Appear strange’

Cooper asked would it not “appear strange to people” that he was defending Humphries, “in that in some respects he is, it’s a bit parallel with the whole Lance Armstrong situation, if somebody had defended Lance Armstrong in the way that you’re defending him, you would not have believed them”.

Walsh said the comparison was “odious” and “completely inappropriate”.

“All I would say about the Tom situation, and all that I’m going to say, is that I know a damn sight more about it than most people and I believe that 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,” he said.

“And I guarantee you, anyone that 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’m offering and they will have no doubts .”

Last weekend, Walsh wrote in The Sunday Times, “the young girl whose trust Tom betrayed has suffered terribly from this crime,” adding that “despite the serious wrong [Humphries] had done, I could not abandon him”.

Setting up magazine

Journalist and writer Paul Howard said Walsh approached him in 2012 about setting up a magazine “essentially for the benefit” of Humphries.

“David Walsh rang me in 2012 and said he was involved in setting up a sports magazine, essentially for the benefit of Tom, who couldn’t work,” he wrote on Twitter on Monday.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He asked me if I’d be interested in writing for such a magazine.”

Cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was exposed as a drugs cheat by Walsh, posted on Twitter with a link to an article about Walsh’s most recent statement regarding Humphries, with the caption, “this just warms my heart”.

In a later tweet, however, Armstrong wrote: “I was being facetious and in hindsight I regret it and am very sorry. Most don’t know my history with David Walsh, clearly.”

Humphries exchanged at least 16,000 text messages back and forth with the girl during a three-month period leading up to March 2011 as part of the grooming process. Humphries is due to be sentenced on October 24th.