[images added by this
Gloucestershire, England, Tuesday, August 5,
A Tale of Two
WHEN it comes to choosing a new
Racial Equality Council chairman, a white gentleman
farmer with an MBE and a brother who is the world's
most controversial Nazi historian might not be
everyone's first choice. But meet John
Irving, brother of Nazi historian David
Irving (right), ex-RAF officer, former
county councillor . . . and probably
Britain's only Muslim pig farmer.
Yesterday, it was revealed how the unlikely
figure has become the latest chairman of the
He looks and sounds like a traditional gentleman
farmer, complete with the Queen's English, flat cap
and green Wellington boots.
And, like many farmers in the West, he was hit
hard by the foot-and-mouth crisis, and has
diversified into a horseshoe business.
But, while his brother David's controversial
writings and lectures on the holocaust and Judaism
divide opinions across the globe, John is working
hard to bring harmony and friendship to race
relations in Wiltshire.
Mr Irving, 73, has been a member of the REC
executive for two years and will take up his new
post this September.
He is also an honorary member of the Moroccan
community group in Trowbridge and attends the
He has been actively
working towards a purpose-built centre for the
Moroccan community - and all residents -- in
Wiltshire's county town, which has the largest
Moroccan community in England, outside
And yesterday, Mr Irving pledged to work towards
the goal of the centre in his new role.
"My agenda is to do anything conducive to racial
harmony and equalisation of opportunity,
irrespective of race," he said.
"I believe this is the most important issue
facing the country today, particularly in the wake
of the Iraq war. Wiltshire is an ideal low-profile
area, where there's good racial harmony and we want
to build on that."
Mr Irving converted to Islam 22 years ago while
commanding troops for the Sultan of Oman.
"I had spent a lot of time in the RAF out in the
Middle East and had already had a lot of contact
with Muslim people.
"I was attracted to it because the Muslims I met
had a certain something about the way they
conducted their lives.
"They had cleanliness in their lives, in all
aspects. There's none of the impediments that
Western religions or society have - there's no
gambling, no drinking and no uncertainty about
sexuality which so consumes our society.
"It is clear cut, the men are straight and the
Mr Irving's religious beliefs won out over his
political affiliations four years ago.
A Liberal Democrat county councillor, he quit
the party in 1999 after it came out in favour of
lowering the age of consent for homosexuals from 18
He was also
passionately against the Iraq war, describing
the Government as "evil" for pursuing military
solutions instead of peaceful ones.
"The war was a most terrible, tragic mistake,"
he said. "It has made me ashamed to be English. At
first, I thought the Government was mistaken, then
I thought they were evil to choose war when there
were other ways. Killing can never be right." Mr
Irving successfully completed his Hajj six years
ago, the pilgrimage to Mecca which all Muslims are
duty bound to make at least once in their
"I'm a fairly active Muslim, I attend mosque but
I don't want to discuss my Muslim practices. It's
by no means a secret, but Muslims have different
practices and it is personal to each
Mr Irving also said his relationship with his
brother was something private too. He referred the
Western Daily Press to Genesis Chapter 4,
verse 9, where Cain tells God he is not his
But Mr Irving did say: "I value family harmony.
He is my brother and that is all there is to say
about it. My primary concerns are for racial
harmony in Wiltshire."
And colleagues at the Racial Equality Council in
Trowbridge dismissed any concern about Mr Irving's
New director Dr Joe Sang said: "Who his
brother is, has never come up in conversation, and
I wasn't even aware of that. I don't think it's an
issue at all. It makes no difference to his
And North and West Wiltshire police's diversity
officer, PC Andy Fortune, said: "I've met Mr Irving
a few times and he is a very nice chap indeed. I
think he will make an excellent chairman of the
Racial Equality Council and I look forward to
working with him."
Irving: A Radical's Diary, July
Irving: A Radical's Diary, Sept