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Former Guardian editor defends paper over Roy Greenslade role

Martin Evans
·2-min read
Roy Greenslade has admitted being a supporter of the IRA's armed struggle - David Hartley/Shutterstock
Roy Greenslade has admitted being a supporter of the IRA's armed struggle - David Hartley/Shutterstock

The former editor of the Guardian has defended its employment of IRA supporter Roy Greenslade, insisting his views were “irrelevant” to the vast majority of his output for the newspaper.

Alan Rusbridger, who was in charge at the Guardian from 1995 to 2015, said he felt let down by Mr Greenslade because of his failure to be transparent about his sympathies for the armed struggle of the Republican movement.

But he described criticism of the Guardian as a “red herring” insisting Mr Greenslade did not take part in editorial conferences or write about Northern Ireland issues.

Last week Mr Greenslade admitted he had secretly written for Sinn Fein’s newspaper, An Phoblacht, under a pseudonym and was a supporter of the IRA bombing campaigns during the Troubles.

It also emerged that he had written a column in the Guardian in 2014 in which he openly criticised an alleged IRA rape victim, accusing her of hiding an anti Sinn Fein bias.

In the piece he also questioned the claims made by Maíria Cahill in an award-winning BBC documentary and accused the Corporation of lacking partiality.

Writing in the Guardian, Mr Rusbridger apologised to Ms Cahill for the article, but he defended the newspaper’s long time employment of Mr Greenslade.

Alan Rusbridger has defended the Guardian where Roy Greenslade was a columnist
Alan Rusbridger has defended the Guardian where Roy Greenslade was a columnist

He wrote: “I am not alone among his former editors and colleagues in feeling let down by Greenslade for leaving it until his retirement to place on public record his sympathies for the armed struggle.

“Those beliefs were irrelevant to the vast majority of his output at the Guardian. But he did very occasionally write about Ireland and media coverage.

“Given what he has now shared, I believe he should have avoided those topics – or, at the very least, have been consistent in letting readers know more about where he was coming from – especially as the Guardian’s own guidelines have long been explicit about declaring interests.”

Referring to the 2014 article about Ms Cahill’s ordeal, he added: “The piece spectacularly fails on transparency grounds. Had Greenslade been open with me back in 2014, I would have been able to come to a different judgment about it overall.

So I am sincerely sorry to Maíria Cahill, both for the article and for the upset it must have caused her. Both the Guardian and Greenslade have also apologised.”