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David Walsh described Tom Humphries as 'a great, great man' after child sex allegations

The Sunday Times chief sports writer wrote a character reference for Humphries

Sunday Times journalist David Walsh.
Sunday Times journalist David Walsh.
Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images

IN A 2012 interview that was recorded after allegations against Tom Humphries were in the public domain, Sunday Times journalist David Walsh described him as “a great, great man”.

The comments were made in an interview on Matt Cooper’s The Last Word programme that were not broadcast by Today FM at the time but were released today.

Earlier this year former sports journalist Humphries pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl.

A court hearing last week heard how he groomed her with sexually explicit text messages after first contacting her when she was 14 years old.

Humphries is to be sentenced for his crimes later this month and ahead of that sentencing it emerged that Walsh had written a character reference for Humphries.

In the acknowledgements for his 2012 book about Lance Armstrong, Seven Deadly Sins, Walsh also paid tribute to Humphries, referring to him as:

the most talented sportswriter I’ve ever read. A fine man, too.

In the interview with Cooper five years ago, Walsh brought up Humphries as one of the journalists he admired most.

Speaking about Humphries’ work on the allegations against swimmer Michelle Smith, Walsh said:

Tom Humphries was amazing. The work that Tom Humphries did on that story was probably the finest sports journalism I’ve even seen. So that had a big influence on me in this sense that this is the template, this is how you do it.

Cooper then raised the allegations against Humphries and asked Walsh whether his praise of him was “a bit provocative”.

“No I don’t believe it’s provocative at all,” Walsh said in response.

I believe it’s a statement that I believe to be true. And 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.

“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,” Walsh added.

Cooper then asked Walsh whether it was somewhat contradictory in defending allegations against Humphries after years of investigating allegations of doping against Lance Armstrong.

Walsh described this as an “odious” comparison.

“I think the comparison you’ve made is odious and completely inappropriate. And all I’m going to 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 know Tom is a fine man,” he said.

TheJournal.ie has sought a response from The Sunday Times and David Walsh following the release of this latest interview.

Comments have been closed as legal proceedings are ongoing. 

Read: Tom Humphries hears how victim ‘blocked out childhood memories’ to ‘block out all the abuse’ >

Read: ‘I could not abandon him’: Journalist explains why he wrote reference for Tom Humphries >

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Rónán Duffy

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