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Re: The Observer
Dear Mr Taylor,
Your advice on the following, please.
General background. The Jewish community, aggrieved by my famous biography HITLER'S WAR (which they appear not to have read) have been gunning for me for two or three years. It was first published in 1977 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., and more recently republished by Macmillan Ltd. It is also published worldwide by reputable firms. In recent years the Jewish community have tried to destroy my professional basis as a historian, attacking my reputation, and putting pressure on publishers and newspapers not to publish my works. They admit this, and I have a file of clippings on this. Anticipating a date when they succeed, about three years ago I took a little publishing firm which I set up in 1981 (publishing magazines and the like), Focal Point Publications, and groomed it to publish my own books at a later date if need arises. Quite apart from this, publishing is far more profitable than authoring. (HITLER'S WAR cost £6 to produce, retails at £25). Recognising this precautionary step I have taken, the Jewish opposition have taken even uglier steps -- once again, which they openly admit -- namely a campaign of window smashing and otherwise intimidating booksellers (e.g. Waterstones and Dillons in Norwich, Nottingham, Newcastle), to prevent them from stocking HITLER'S WAR.
In November 1991 Focal Point, my own imprint, publishing a special de luxe edition* of HITLER'S WAR -- revised to include the latest materials like the new Goebbels diaries. It is identical to an edition published in the U.S.A. by Avon Books Inc., the reputable subsidiary of the Hearst Corporation.
We have printed 5,000 copies in our first print. Finance was wholly provided by my partner A-- [name deleted]. He provided around £35,000 from his own funds, against a contract whereby Focal Point repays him his capital plus a flat 25% profit. At present A--'s principal has been repaid and he is earning the profit. In a few months' time, Focal Point itself will earn the remainder, around £50,000 profit -- which thus becomes mine, in fact. I reiterate: not one penny of the production came from my pocket, it was raised from this City gentleman Mr A-- in the normal manner, and there is a written contract to prove it. The printers, Butler & Tanner of Somerset, will confirm that A-- paid every single bill they submitted.
In January (I think) 1992, Mr Chaim Bermant applied to interview me on my discovery of the Adolf Eichmann papers, on behalf of a Scottish newspaper, Scotland on Sunday (I think). He interviewed me at my flat. I never saw what he wrote, as the Scots newspaper informed him and me they refused to print his article about me as it was deemed too libellous by the company lawyers.
Following the recent spate of defamatory newspaper articles about me, I sent a letter to twenty leading British newspaper managing editors warning them that if they (a) called me a "Hitler apologist", (b) said I described the Hitler Diaries as authentic, or (c) alleged that I "denied. the Holocaust", I would consider such statements actionable. This letter has largely had a salutary effect.
On July 26 The Observer published an article by one Lord Goodman, in which he made an obnoxious reference to me as a "known Nazi apologist." I sent them the attached Reader's Letter. They did not publish it.
On July 31 1992 the Jewish Chronicle carried a whole page advertisement from The Observer advertising an article by Mr Bermant, "The Curious Career of David Irving," in their forthcoming Sunday issue. (The Sunday newspapers have been vying with each other to capture the Jewish readers disaffected by the Sunday Times recent serials.)
The article published on August 2 (also attached) is a farrago of lies and insults. The second paragraph goes directly to my professional career however and, if believed, would seriously damage my standing with readers, publishers, agents, literary editors, and booksellers. It reads:
"He had just produced an updated version of his book on Hitler's war at his own expense. He had to sell it himself because no British publisher would handle it. Most bookshops were reluctant to stock it, and the hallway of his Mayfair flat was stacked high with hundreds, perhaps even thousands of unsold copies."
Mr -- wrote the attached Reader's Letter [not posted]. It was not published.
I sent the attached Letter before Action [not posted] to the Managing Editor. I strongly suspect that it was the revelation that another editor had rejected a (no doubt similar: Discovery will tell!) article as libellous that persuaded them to take my warning seriously.
At midday on Friday August 7 their company solicitor sent me a letter describing a note they proposed to print on Sunday in partial amends. It did not address the main issue at all, and I pointed this out in my immediate reply to Miss Braybrook. They did not reply. On August 8 I faxed to the managing editor a warning that I reserved the right to take action if the allegations complained of were not withdrawn in their entirety. Again no reply.
On August 9 Bermant published a footnote (attached) reading:
"In a reference to David Irving's book 'Hitler's War' last week, I wrote that most bookshops were reluctant to stock it. I should have said 'some' bookshops stocked it with reluctance. My apologies."
Unless my eyes read wrongly, far from withdrawing his original allegation on this point, Bermant merely snidely restates it in a different garb. The new implication is that while "some" bookshops did stock it, with reluctance, the rest did not stock it at all. There is no attempt to withdraw the other libels.
I wish, for obvious reasons, to avoid taking Counsel's Opinion at this stage. I wish you to force The Observer (a) to publish a full formal retraction and apology along the lines I originally proposed; and (b) [to] indemnify me for my costs.
Unless, of course, you advise differently.
Mr Barton Taylor
A manuscript footnote reads: * The Macmillan edition is still in print. So Mr Irving believed at the time, but it emerged in 1998 that five weeks earlier, under outside pressure, Macmillan Ltd had destroyed their entire stock without informing him.