THE GREAT GORDON THOMAS, Thanks for allowing me to know you.

By Declan White

THE GREAT INVESTIGATIVE reporter Gordon Thomas has passed on to higher stories in Heaven.

While we mere mortals will sadly miss him there is no doubt that Gordon and his marvellous tales are now intriguing God and His angels in Paradise.

Gordon was one of the first brave reporters to expose the perversions of the clergy in Catholic Ireland, and for doing that his life was threatened on many occasions, but courageous Gordon continued his reporting.

He was born in 1933 on the gatehouse floor of a Welsh cemetery. When he was a teenager his first novel was published with the help of a relative, the legendary poet Dylan Thomas.

Gordon wrote the manuscript on schoolbooks. He was expelled for damaging school property. The poet helped Gordon to send the manuscript to London publishers.

They arranged to meet the writer at the train station. While waiting at the gate the two English gentlemen could not see the writer, whom they planned to bring to lunch in a London pub, as publishing in those days was very much lunch time O’Booze.

They got a shock when this kid in short trousers announced himself as the writer Gordon Thomas. They took him to a café for tea and cream buns, and they bought his novel.

Gordon went on to write 53 books, selling over 45 million copies worldwide, and he wrote umpteen screenplays, four of them made into movies with top stars like Paul Newman.

I had the great pleasure of working on a screenplay with Gordon, and though the script was optioned by UK producers, it never went anywhere, and many times I wonder did I waste Gordon’s time, maybe I did, but I just loved being in his company.

He was such a kind, learned and witty man. Name any current event or world leader and soft-spoken Gordon would deliver the inside stories, for Gordon was one of the world’s top political investigative reporters with amazing sources and unbelievable contacts.

He first scooped the world as a cub reporter when he was sent to Egypt. He spoke Arabic, having been schooled in Alexandria while his father worked in the services of the British crown.

Gordon got a world-changing scoop in 1956 when he interviewed Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abel Nasser, then President of Egypt. He told Gordon that the next day he was going to nationalize the Suez Canal, which led to war with the U.K. and France, and changed the Middle East forever.

Gordon went on to become a widely syndicated foreign correspondent. He was also a BBC writer/producer working on the flagship programmes: Man Alive, Tomorrow’s World and Horizon.

As a youngster I was fascinated by those TV programmes, and I was flabbergasted when I finally met the man who uncovered the stories for that electrifying television, the likes of which we have never seen since.

I first met Gordon when he lived in Delgany, Co Wicklow, Ireland with his charming wife Edith, and their two exciting children Natasha and Nick.

By that time Gordon had covered the world, won numerous journalistic and writing awards, and he had lived in Hollywood where he was toasted as a brilliant scriptwriter of adventure films.

At that time Ireland was in shock. In 1992 it was revealed that Bishop Eamon Casey had in 1974 fathered a son with American divorcee Annie Murphy. Casey was the popular face of Catholic Ireland, having welcomed Pope John Paul 11 to the green Catholic island.

When the news broke the bishop disappeared. No one knew where Bishop Casey was, and the Vatican would not tell.

Gordon Thomas in 1993 scooped another world exclusive when he tracked down fugitive Bishop Casey to a remote village in Mexico, hidden away with the help of his superiors in Rome.

At that time Gordon was working on his best-selling book Desire and Denial: Celibacy and the Church, but he could not pass up the opportunity to put on his reporter’s hat again and get back into the hard-field of journalism, and deliver another global scoop.

In 1994 I worked in a minor way on the award-wining and ground-breaking UTV documentary with the great reporter Chris Moore that exposed serial sex predator Fr. Brendan Smyth.

He had raped children in Ireland, Britain and America while the Catholic Church moved the pervert priest about so as to covered up his crimes.

Chris Moore and UTV told me that they needed a reporter from the Republic of Ireland to doorstep Fr. Smyth’s bishop, but that they could not find a journalist in the Free State brave enough to question the bishop.

They had tried several reporters, offering to hire them to ask Fr. Smyth’s boss why he had covered up for the paedophile priest, and allowed him to roam about Ireland sexually abusing hundreds of children.

I had recently returned to Ireland from progressive Denmark. I was shocked at how supined members of the Irish media were when it came to matters of the Catholic Church. They kow-towed to the men in collars.

It was unbelievable how backward Ireland was because of this media cowardice. The dimmest days of Soviet Russia were not as dark as those days in Ireland when the compassionless Catholic Church ruled Ireland with an iron fist.

UTV’s longest investigation was stalling. It was unable to broadcast the biggest story in modern Irish history that would eventually bring down the Albert Reynolds government in Dublin, because UTV could not find a journalist in the Republic brave enough to interview the bishop.

When Chris Moore asked would I do it, I jumped at the opportunity to play a small part in the greatest TV exposé ever transmitted in Ireland.

I willingly door-stepped the bishop. He slammed the door in my face. It made good TV.

Then I received the first threat.

A Dublin-based editor of a UK Sunday newspaper phoned me, stating that each bishop in the Irish Catholic Hierarchy were individually going to sue me, some 30 High Court writs, and they would take my home off me in Co Clare if I did not stop reporting pervert priest stories.

When I told my wife she asked: “Does the Catholic Church want to throw three more children out onto the road?” She was a photographer and volunteered to accompany me on the next story.

I told the editor to deliver two words from me to the Hierarchy: “F off.”

That editor, I later learned, is a bigwig in Opus Dei, which overtly and covertly operates in over 60 countries and is now giving the present Pope Francis major headaches as they plot against his tolerant compassionate philosophy.

Also RTE hounds were dispatched to do a hatchet job on me. I was told by a renegade Church source that the national broadcaster was ordered to link me to any crime, or any serious criminal, to tarnish my reputation so that I could not find journalistic work again in Catholic Ireland.

A highly paid RTE hack spent months sniffing around my life in Co Clare, trying to pin anything on me. He couldn’t find anything, and no Irish cop would back up his dishonest allegations against me.

But the Catholic elite – elements from Opus Dei and the Order of the Knights of Saint Columbanus who basically rule the Republic of Ireland – went livid at RTE.

They ordered that some show-trial must be produced to smear my character as a journalist to stop me reporting about their pervert priests.

The Catholic Hierarchy, everyone of those bishops, didn’t care about the abused children. They were solely into protecting the Church’s reputation and into maintaining it controlling power in Ireland.

Finally the RTE hatchet hack linked me to an Englishman who had come to live in Co Clare. He was a generous fellow who threw lavish parties for the community – farmers, business people, new-agers and local politicians.

I had attended a few of his shindigs. At one of them a Clare county councillor said I should introduced the Englishman to a Dublin solicitor, as the local legal-eagles were incompetents or drunks. I did.

The Englishman was subsequently busted for cannabis smuggling. Now the RTE hatchet hack concocted an allegation that I must be involved in organized crime because I had introduced the Englishman to an Irish solicitor.

It was a sniffling weak Walter Mitty accusation, but with unscrupulous editing RTE ran with the fabrication, trying to prove that I must be guilty by association with a cannabis scammer.

The RTE hatchet hack did not tell viewers that at that time his nephew and his own daughter were dealing cocaine. She was later busted, but her court case was not covered by RTE. And RTE certainly did not report on her links to shock-jock Gerry Ryan.

He died from over-doing cocaine. RTE bosses knew motor-mouth Gerry Ryan was a coke-fiend and a blatant hypocrite for repeatedly broadcasting official-Ireland’s anti-drugs propaganda on his popular radio show while he was snorting away.

Senior Gardai also knew about Ryan’s cocaine habit, because two top cops frequently snorted with him. But RTE bosses and Dublin police chiefs did nothing about Gerry Ryan. Such is how the hypocrites rule Ireland.

Gordon, and my late mother, saw through the RTE report that it was a hatchet job. Gordon knew it was orchestrated by the bent Church and the corrupt Irish political Establishment to silence another investigative reporter.

RTE’s attack on me did not work out as they had hoped because I did most of my journalistic work for UK publications whose editors were not slaves to the Catholic Irish governing elite. In fact they hated them and paid me handsome money to go after the crooked clergy.

But still I received death threats over that RTE programme. Worse, my wife was physically attacked, and my little daughter was targeted. All this, with the RTE hatchet job and the death threats against me, were contributing reasons why I had to flee my Co Clare home.

Another reason the Church went after me was because I had exposed Cardinal Sean Brady; he had silenced two children who were abused by Fr. Smyth.

Cardinal Brady had frightened them with horror stories of them going to Hell if they talked publicly about the abuse. The poor youngsters were scared out of their skins.

Cardinal Brady did not report the heinous crimes against these children to the police, but he tried to excuse himself by saying he was only a note-taker at that inquisition.

Gordon and Edith Thomas had received death threats after Gay Byrne ambushed Gordon on the Late Late Show. Gordon’s main attacker was Fr Michael Cleary, Bishop Casey’s singing-partner in welcoming Pope John Paul 11 to Ireland back in 1979.

While attacking Gordon, Fr Cleary was publicly praising celibacy in the priesthood, but he turned out to be yet another Catholic hypocrite.

Fr Cleary had secretly fathered two sons with his housekeeper Phyllis Hamilton, and he was living in a clandestine marriage with Phyllis in the priest’s house paid for by Dublin parishioners, while telling the world he was celibate and he was thankful for being celibate.

So when I first met Gordon and Edith we already shared common ground … we had all been threatened by Catholic Church hitmen, and all our lives were endangered, but none of us would stop our work of exposing political and Church hypocrites.

Gordon and I worked on many stories together. Modern Irish people wanted to know the truth, but the Irish media let them down, however, an English Sunday newspaper that hired me as a freelance reporter almost trebled its readership because the Irish had such a hunger for the truth.

I believe it is no exaggeration to claim that we helped to save the lives of numerous children from the perversions of paedophile priests.

Ireland owes Gordon Thomas an apology for how official Ireland and the Catholic Church treated and threatened Gordon and Edith.

The Irish people owe Gordon Thomas a great debt of gratitude.

When history is written Gordon will hold a higher place than the flawed bishops and cardinals.

In those early days there were only a couple or three reporters heroic enough to tackle and expose the degeneracy of some, not all, of the Catholic clergy, and the corruptions of Ireland’s ruling elite.

I think those threats may have led to Gordon departing Ireland, where the hypocrites are rewarded, the bad promoted and the good must emigrate.

Gordon went to live in the English countryside where he continued to produce books, and journalism and movie scripts at a prodigious rate.

I again came across Gordon in the mid 2000s after I was sacked from, what I call Madmen On Sunday, a major UK newspaper operating in Ireland. I was fired after I declined to write lies that the editor had ordered.

When I refused, the Liar-Editor went at me, and at me to write the lies about a Dublin businessman. The Liar-Editor kept at me until his bullying broke my health. I went sick.

The doctor told me I was suffering from stress, well, I was working 60, 70, 80 hours a week, and sometimes even 90 or 100 hours to track down exclusive stories across the world for Madmen On Sunday. The doctor gave me Valium and told me to go to bed. I didn’t get out of it for months.

Then one night a courier knocked on our door in north Dublin with a letter. Madmen On Sunday wrote that I had better get in touch with Social Welfare because I was sacked.

(Well, Gerald Kean took a case to the High Court, without fees for me. It took years. But finally I was awarded a six-figure sum for personal injures I had suffered from the Liar-Editor’s bullying, and because I had been unfairly dismissed.)

But the Madmen On Sunday’s lawyers demanded confidentiality so the general public would not know that they had sacked their Showbusiness Editor and Social Columnist (me) because I had refused to write lies.

Well, the Liar-Editor who had insisted that I write lies, well he was forever being interviewed by RTE, always on those shows: Marian Finnuncane and those radio programmes, and on RTE TV shows (prime time etc) and on RTE news at six, because he was an ‘expert’, a famous Irish editor, an Irish speaker, one of those voices that set the agenda for politicians and the Irish public.

He was a big name in Irish publishing, and he was also a very powerful person on the Press Counsel.

He was the man when a person made a complaint that the press had written lies about them, well the Liar-Editor was the man who investigated it.

He was the ‘expert’ paid big money (and I suppose a big pension). He was the ‘expert’ to say if a newspaper had written a lie about a member of the public, about ordinary people.

The Liar-Editor was so respected that he was the judge and jury who stated what is and isn’t truth in Irish society.

The Liar-Editor had written lies about businessman Denis O’Brien, who quickly took a defamation case and won big-time.

When we won our High Court case, well, Madmen On Sunday and the Press Council, well, they couldn’t have it that the public would know that Liar-Editor,  their ‘expert’, who guarded readers from lies, had gone ape on me because I refused to write his lies.

My wife and the children suffered. I had been making good money in journalism, we had a comfortable middle-class lifestyle, but when Madmen On Sunday sacked me, well, my health collapsed, and we fell into poverty.

We really had no money… the dole didn’t stretch far enough… and the mortgage fell into arrears… I had holes in me shoes… the kids barely had the bus fare to go to school… sometimes my youngest son had to walk…. my wife had to get a job cleaning tables in a pub.

But she and the children stuck with me, because they didn’t want their daddy writing lies.

Instead I wrote a play.

The Abbey, Ireland’s national theatre, offered me a course for uncommissioned playwrights, with the possibility of getting the play staged in the national threatre.

However, at the end of the course they told me my work was too radical for the Abbey, that not even the students in Trinity College were writing material as radical as mine, and my work would never be staged in Ireland.

Around that time Gordon had been commissioned by Madmen On Sunday to write authoritative articles about the Catholic Church, international espionage, and even showbusiness stories that other journalists could not unlock. His contact was the Liar-Editor who promised Gordon £3,000 to £4,000 per article; a good fee for any journalist, handy money for Gordon.

While it might take another reporter a week to work on the assignment, and then not get it, but Gordon could knock it out in an evening.

He would stay working on his books during the day and after he had finished he would then turn to the journalistic mission in the evening. Gordon had a vast database of contacts and connections across the world and in so many different fields of human endeavor.

He could phone up a CIA supervisor or a Mossad operative or a Vatican official or even a rock band’s manger. Gordon’s contacts were legend.

Gordon had an unique interviewing skill where reluctant subjects would not only talk to Gordon but would reveal far more than they had planned. They would divulge things about themselves that were even knew to themselves as they intellectualized them for the first time by talking to silky-voiced Gordon.

It wasn’t so much that Gordon charmed them, or hypnotized them to reveal their inner secrets, but somehow they found comfort in his voice. They found security in the way he phrased his questions. So they would continue talking to Gordon while they had given every other journalist: “No Comment.”

Whether it was a scientist, a politician, a spy-master, a radical priest or a petulant celebrity, they all fell for Gordon’s enchanting voice at the other end of the phone line.

Gordon was again coming up with scoops for Madmen On Sunday. They were happy they had a reporter who could analyze major breaking news that others just could not tackle.

Gordon was providing revelatory facts from his interviews that other journos just couldn’t get. And this nixer was bringing him in handy money.

When he’d finish with his journalism he would watch TV news before retiring to bed with Newsnight, for Gordon Thomas was a news-addict, he kept up to speed on what humans were doing with their lives.

Madmen On Sunday, and the Liar-Editor, were delighted with Gordon’s work for them until one day he phoned the newsroom and asked for me.

He learned what had happened to me – even the most hard-nosed closed-mouth hack was putty in Gordon’s interviewing hands.

Gordon phoned the Liar-Editor. Gordon told him that he would not work for him again, no matter how much Madmen On Sunday would pay, because of what the Liar-Editor had done to me.

Instead, Gordon got in touch with me. He invited me to come stay with Edith and himself in England, and to work on turning my Abbey-rejected play into a film. He had just done a big movie deal for one of his books so he would try to sell my play to the same movie producers. I might make money, at least I could have some fun trying it, Gordon said.

Well, I was broke, not in the best of health, and also heart-broken over cowardly Irish journalism, boring theatre and sick of the hypocrites who rule Ireland.

I jumped at the opportunity and went to stay with Gordon and Edith in the soothing green depths of the English countryside.

Well, life became ideal. I loved the work, and the fresh air. And so many times I was falling around the place with laughter as Gordon, in his distinctive witty way, would uncover breaking news about the secret worlds long before the BBC had it on the box.

Well, I had a great time with the maestro who used a typewriter, not a computer. He religiously wrote every morning of his life.

Eight A.M. each day the thump-thump-thump of fingers on the typewriter keys told the world that inspiration was again flowing through Gordon Thomas.

Now it does not matter that the movie went nowhere, because I got to experience a most remarkable time working close-up with the legend Gordon Thomas. RIP.

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Gordon Thomas was the lead expert for a 12-part series on international intelligence for Ian Punnett’s Coast to Coast, the most listened-to overnight radio broadcast in North America with three million weekly listeners. He regularly appeared on Euronews (available in 10 languages and 300 million households) and Russia Today.

Gordon received numerous awards for his reporting, including an International Television Award and two Mark Twain Society Awards. Shipwreck won the Edgar Allen Poe Award. Four of Gordon Thomas’ books (Voyage of the Damned, Ruin from the Air, The Day the Bubble Burst, and The Day Their World Ended) have been made into feature films starring such A-listers as Paul Newman, Billy Crystal, Robert Vaughn, and Jacqueline Bisset. The Day Guernica Died is currently under option.

Gordon’s most recent bestseller is Gideon’s Spies: Mossad’s Secret Warriors. Published in 16 languages and 40 countries Gideon’s Spies is known throughout the world as the leading resource on Israeli intelligence.

Gideon’s Spies was made into a major documentary for Channel Four in Britain, which Gordon wrote and narrated, called The Spy Machine. The Observer called The Spy Machine a “clear” picture of Israeli intelligence operations, and The Times called it “impressive,” and “chilling.”

A member of the London Speaker’s Bureau and Macmillan Speakers, Gordon continued to grow his already-impressive platform, lecturing widely on the secret world of intelligence. He also regularly provided expert analysis on intelligence for US and European television and radio programs. He wrote The Pope’s Jews, which was published by St. Martin’s Press in late 2012.