Thursday, June 21, 2001
battle to overturn Holocaust libel
By Joshua Rozenberg Legal Editor
DAVID IRVING, the author who was
described by a High Court judge last year as an
anti-Semite and a falsifier of history, sought
permission yesterday to appeal against a ruling
that he had not been libelled by an American
the libel trial, Mr Justice Gray decided
that Prof Deborah Lipstadt had justified
her assertion that Mr Irving was discredited as a
historian because of his denial of the Holocaust.
She was at a crowded Court of Appeal for the
hearing that began yesterday, along with her
publisher, Penguin Books.
They heard Mr Irving's counsel, Adrian
Davies, argue that Mr Irving had not denied
the Holocaust according to his definition of it.
The author accepted that by 1943 the Nazis and
their collaborators had decided to murder all the
Jews in occupied Europe, although Mr Irving said
this had not been so in 1941.
Mr Davies said the distortion of evidence was at
the heart of the case against Mr Irving.
At the trial, the author was accused of basing
his rejection of the existence of homicidal gas
chambers at Auschwitz on a 1988 report by an
American, Fred Leuchter. Mr Leuchter had
removed samples of brick and concrete and
concluded by analysing them that there had not
been homicidal gas chambers there.
Prof Lipstadt and her publishers had said the
Leuchter report was "bunk" but Mr Irving had
ignored its "stupidities" because he wanted it to
Mr Irving, who dismissed witness accounts of
gassings as lies, argued at the trial that the
broad trend of the document was substantially borne
out by later reports. He said there were some
gassings on a limited scale at the camp, but
claimed that the chamber was used only for
fumigation or as an air-raid shelter.
Mr Davies submitted that Mr Leuchter's report
was "not such utter bunk" as had been suggested.
"Even if, contrary to my primary submission,
Leuchter is the most unutterable bunk with no
merit whatsoever, even as a starting point for
discussion, it is insufficient for the defendants
to say that it's proof that David Irving
The fact that Mr Irving was enthusiastic about
Mr Leuchter and wrote a foreword for his report,
giving it general publicity, might show poor
"But just because someone attaches much too much
weight to a document or goes off on a tangent
about one particular piece of evidence, which on
the face of it appeared to be impressive, that
does not mean he is wilfully setting about
falsifying history. It might just mean that he has
rather poor judgment on that particular
Early in the hearing, Lords Justices Pill,
Mantell and Buxton frequently asked Mr
Davies where he was suggesting that Mr Justice Gray
had been in error.
Their attempts to understand Mr Davies's case
were not helped by his failure to give them
written notice of some of his arguments. Counsel
said he had received certain instructions and
papers from Mr Irving at the last moment.
Richard Rampton, QC, for Penguin and Prof
Lipstadt, said he had not seen documents which Mr
Davies wanted to put in evidence.
Mr Davies said he would argue that the judge's
findings on specific issues were wrong as a
matter of history or that Mr Irving had come to a
reasonable alternative position on some
The hearing was adjourned to today.© Copyright 2001
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