The Headline is my own. The text below is of an email sent me in November 2011 by Eamon Dyas,( former Head of Archives with News International)
“It was under Harold Evans’s editorship that the SUNDAY TIMES Insight team undertook such a thorough investigation of the Bloody Sunday business shortly after it happened. It seems Evans didn’t realise what he had unleashed (previously unpublished background, “off the record” interviews, witness statements, unpublished photographs etc.) That investigation was deliberately ignored by Widgery with the connivance of Evans. That Widgery knew of it is beyond question as part (a safe part) was used in his Inquiry.
Many years later I was in charge of the archive at News International at the outset of the Saville Inquiry and ensured that the whole archive was made fully available both to the Inquiry and to the solicitors representing the families of the victims. I could only do this by circumventing the Managing Editor of the Sunday Times through an element of subterfuge. However, when it got out it raised the hackles of some of the journalists who had been part of the original
Insight team. It seems they were more concerned about protecting their sources than that the truth could come out. The flak then percolated down to me but it was probably the best thing I did when working for News International, as the findings could not but have reflected the additional information that the Insight archive contained.
Eamon’s Second Thoughts – a Caveat sent me today 29 OCTOBER 2020 –
“In the intervening years I may have softened my statement that he (Evans) withheld the Sunday Times archive from Widgery for purely malicious reasons. It had since been pointed out to me that there were other considerations including the one that got me into hot water some years later regarding journalistic confidentiality. Despite being carpeted by the managing editor I got away with it because I wasn’t an Editor and had initiated the procedure of getting the stuff to Saville before the editorial department were aware of what was happening. Also, my involvement was nearly
30 years after the event. It would have been a different issue if the material was handed over to Widgery by a current editor to a government inquiry so soon after the event. For that reason if you are to include my email of November 2011 I’d ask you to include this caveat.
I, Donal Kennedy, have not changed my thoughts about Harold Evans, a coward and a liar. A coward who published a lie about Tony Benn to scupper Benn’s candidacy for deputy leadership of the Labour Party,
and, with the damage done, next day retracted the lie and apologised and published a letter from Benn. Benn, a Privy Councillor could not be given the brush-off given less powerful readers of the paper. Lord Widgery died in 1981 when Evans was Editor of THE TIMES. It gave him a glowing obituary.
When the Saville Inquiry Report was published Matthew Parris, an honest columnist (and ex MP, and still a Tory) remembered that the old scoundrel had had an undeservedly favourable obituary in his paper. Evans’s reputation belongs with those of the forger Richard Pigott and Titus Oates in the annals of iniquity.
Widgery had been instructed by Prime Minister Edward Heath and Lord Chancellor Hailsham on what was expected of him, and Harold Evans played the part demanded of him by the war plan outlined by General Frank Kitson, the architect of the longest war in Ireland’s history.
29 October 2020