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Steerpike

The Guardian’s troubles with Roy Greenslade

The Guardian's troubles with Roy Greenslade
Roy Greenslade (Photo: Getty)
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Roy Greenslade's confession last month that he was a dedicated supporter of the IRA during the Troubles has not gone down well on Fleet Street. Greenslade secretly wrote for the republican newsletter An Phoblacht and provided bail surety for an IRA man accused of involvement in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing. He wrote in the Sunday Times three weeks ago that he was in 'complete agreement about the right of the Irish people to engage in armed struggle', adding: 'I supported the use of physical force.'

The backlash from journalists and victims of the IRA alike caused Greenslade to resign his post as honorary visiting professor of journalism at City, University of London, the finishing school for future hacks, having lectured in ethics there until 2018. Now though his admission has cost another journalist his job – Greenslade's former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger who was appointed in September to a commission considering the future of Ireland's media industry.

Rusbridger resigned last night, claiming: 'I don't want my involvement to be a distraction from its work.' It followed criticism from Mairia Cahill, who alleged she was abused by an IRA man when she was 16, and whose claims were attacked in a 2014 column by Greenslade. Greenslade said BBC reporters 'were too willing to accept Cahill's story and did not point to countervailing evidence.'

Since then both Rusbridger and his successor Katherine Viner have apologised to Cahill while the Guardian have removed three articles by Greenslade on her case. The Prime Minister's spokesman has also weighed in, claiming Boris Johnson 'outright condemns' Greenslade's comments – an interesting intervention given the previous history between Johnson and Rusbridger. As Douglas Murray has previously noted, when the Prime Minister was in charge of The Spectator, he ran an article accusing Roy Greenslade of being part of a secret 'Republican cell at the heart of The Guardian', whose members were conspiring to make it publish 'editorials that lean alarmingly towards the IRA'.

Rusbridger responded with a furious eight-page letter of complaint, in which he vigorously denied the existence of any such pro-Republican group. Subsequently the Guardian published an article suggesting The Spectator's claims were little more than 'half-baked gossip' and hinting that the author of the piece was in fact an 'MI5/6 asset' being secretly 'used' by intelligence sources to further a malevolent Right-wing agenda.

Mr S eagerly awaits a similar apology from Mr Rusbridger in due course.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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