When Andrew was in Argentina in 1982, covering the Malvinas War, I took him out to lunch. Not only to greet a friend but, essentially, to apologise for something that occurred in 1976, which weighed very heavily on my heart.
At that time, and on the suggestion of Bob Cox, I had been invited to become a member of the board of the Buenos Aires Herald. As a result, I got to know the folks who worked there and, of course Andrew, who at that time – amongst other items – ran ‘Politics and Labour,’ the column on Page Three on Sundays which carried information not available elsewhere, and which surely was then the most read piece of the whole week. It was a well-known fact that he had contacts all over, which put him very much in the frontline of the events that occurred before and after the military coup.
One day a close friend of mine, who had been the general secretary of a political party of which I had been a youth leader in the 1950s and 1960s, called me up and said that he had something important to speak about. So we got together and he told me to steer clear of Andrew, saying that not only was he a far leftist but that his wife, Micaela, was an activist of the PST, the Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores, and collaborated with the terrorists. Because I fully trusted him, I took his advice.
Consequently, I never gave Andrew and Micaela the right support, or a helping hand in those terribly difficult days, when their lives were in great danger previous to their forced departure to England, and life in exile. And it took me some time to realise that the person, whom I had considered a close friend, was actually operating for a military intelligence service, looking to undermine morale at the Herald.
Back to my luncheon with Andrew: he listened to me patiently, while I told him in detail what had happened and expressed my deep and heartfelt regret at the awful way in which I had ignored him and Micaela. After I’d finished, with a big grin and a gesture of his hand, he waved everything away as irrelevant, simply adding that things like that happened so frequently in those days, and that I should forget the issue and we should get on with the topics of the day.
With a deep sense of gratitude, all I can say is that with this gesture, Andrew proved to be an extremely generous person, with a very open mind. Although we did not see a lot of each other in more recent times, we maintained a warm relationship over the years.
No doubt that, with his passing, Argentina has lost a brilliant writer and fearless defender of the freedom of the press. But, above all, we have lost a good human being.