A RESPECTED British journalist has defended his decision to stand surety for a convicted IRA man suspected of carrying out the Hyde Park bombing.
Roy Greenslade, The Guardian’s media commentator and a journalism professor at London’s City University, said he came forward to support John Downey out of friendship.
In an interview with The Irish Post, the former Daily Mirror editor also referred to himself as a “long-time supporter of Sinn Féin”.
Speaking about his decision to help Mr Downey, who lives near his part-time home in north Donegal, Mr Greenslade said: “I am a friend of John’s. That is the basis on which I made the surety.”
He added that he was glad to see the 62-year-old released last week when it was revealed he had received a letter from police saying he was no longer a wanted man.
“I knew he had that letter and believe he accepted the letter in good faith,” Mr Greenslade said.
“I knew he had been backwards and forward to England several times, so I could not imagine why, in those circumstances, he had been arrested.”
It emerged during the collapse of Mr Downey’s trial for murdering four soldiers in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing that Mr Greenslade was one of four people who took legal responsibility for the Donegal man when he was granted bail last August.
Mr Downey strongly denied the charges.
Mr Greenslade said “it did not take me a moment” to decide to help Mr Downey, who was convicted of IRA membership in 1974.
The media commentator defended his decision to get involved in Mr Downey’s case.
“I do not believe in neutrality,” the professor said. “All of my lectures stress that claims towards neutrality and impartiality and objectivity are bogus.”
And while he now tells his students about his republican views, he admitted that “for a long period, during the war, I was not transparent”.