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FOR THIRTY-FIVE years author David Irving has kept a private diary. It has proven useful in countless actions. For the information of his many supporters he currently publishes an edited text in his irregular newsletter ACTION REPORT.

THE SKETCH, left, is a detail from an unflattering cartoon published in The Guardian in 1977 when it reviewed David Irving's book Hitler's War. He purchased the original from artist David Smith, from whom FOCAL POINT commissioned several skilfully executed caricatures.


London, England, July 28, 1999:

FLIGHT back from Miami lands at Heathrow at seven a.m.; much help from Virgin-Atlantic's Ken Burgess, who pushed Tony's wheelchair around from the plane to the car rental bus. I say I'll commend him in a letter to his boss. Back at Duke Street I work on court papers for a while, then straight down to the High Court at 1:30 p.m.

CBS Television has phoned during the morning, they want to film me outside the High Court for their upcoming Sixty Minutes programme on the Gitta Sereny case. They film me carrying the bundle of files into court; I warn them that the hearing will last two hours at least.

Up in the judge's chambers, it rapidly becomes plain that it will last all afternoon, as Andrew Caldecott QC applies for an order setting out that my discovery is still incomplete. Master Hodgson is initially abrasive toward me, like last time, and I break out in beads of perspiration.

Over the three hours' session, however, and as he reads his way into the files, he evidently warms toward me; and at the end of the session, as we pack our files and chat behind closed doors, I find I am asking him things like is he older than Master Trench (yes), and what does he think of Lord Justice Woolf's procedural reforms (...), etc.

Master Hodgson spends much of the time digressing on history, and his expectations (false) that I intend to refight World War Two in this trial, and to upset established versions of history (nearer the mark). From his pronunciation of some of the German texts, I suspect he knows rather more of that language than he admits; and Andrew Caldecott too, though the latter defers to what he calls my bilingualism in the languages.

The judge sets out to me at quite needless length the distinction between Discovery and Inspection, and more usefully explains that the new Civil Procedure Rules are designed to hurry actions along and to deny litigants the opportunity to drag their feet and protract the case.

Bit by bit the Order sought by Sereny's lawyers is whittled down, until less than half remains and that by consent, so he refuses their application that he make an order for an immediate payment by me of the day's costs, which they have helpfully assessed at £10,467, and merely says that he will order costs in the case, as the wording now has it: what is admired in other countries as the English "loser-pays-all" system.

I rather like Caldecott QC: he seems a civil and educated kind of gent -- a knife-and-fork kind of chap, i.e. unlikely to be seen slurping peas of the back of a knife; J. did not like him, but that is the rivalry that always exists between solicitors who do the work, and barristers who get the credit. So once again my summons for directions, designed to get firm dates fixed, has been bumped off the flight; but Hodgson says grimly that now that he is in charge and the new rules are in place, he will ensure that there is no footdragging.

OUT at 4:45 p.m. CBS film crew are still patiently waiting there. The Sixty Minutes interviewer asks a bunch of prepared questions on Gitta Sereny. Their thrust is clear: that this is a bitter feud that has been played out between powerful writers for twenty five years now. I confirm that Sereny launched her first attack to me in 1977, but that I have turned the other cheek, like a good Christian, until it became impossible to do so because her libels were designed to destroy my career.

Do I have any good things to say about her? "Well," I venture, "she does manage to get inside her characters." (In some cases rumour has it the opposite might be true). "She managed to get inside the character of Albert Speer rather well: that was exactly the Speer that I had got to know -- tho' perhaps a few years earlier than she did," I purr. "In fact right after his release from Spandau."

"You have also had some rather rotten things to say about her," persists the CBS lady. I murmur that their Lordships inside the grey stone building next door would frown if I were publicly to badmouth a defendant in an action; but I can confirm certain remarks which she puts to me as having been said in the remote past.

"Did you once call her, in a letter, a shrivelled little toad?" asks the interviewer. (It was in a private letter to the editor of The Independent).

"-- t*rd," I correct her; and I hope that thereby an injustice has been prevented.

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