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IT BEGINS to look as though a certain professor is just itching to get somebody to take a swing at him in The Strand -- David Irving, commenting on this article from The Bookseller,6957,181043,00.html

London, Saturday June 22, 2002

The Bookseller

Nicholas Clee on the latest news from the world of publishing

EvansRICHARD J Evans's Telling Lies About Hitler, out from Verso next week, may be unique: a book for which Andrew "The Jackal" Wylie has negotiated no advance. The deal between the small left wing publisher and the powerful literary agent follows a complicated series of publishing manoeuvres.

Evans was the chief defence witness in the libel action brought by David Irving against Penguin and Deborah Lipstadt, author of Denying the Holocaust. His painstaking research discredited Irving, whom Mr Justice Gray, finding for the defence, branded as someone who "persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence", and who displayed "all the characteristics of a Holocaust denier". Evans book (German)The judgment, one might have thought, would put paid to Irving's ability to wield any influence at all. But, as Walter Brennan asked, "Have you ever been stung by a dead bee?"

William Heinemann commissioned Telling Lies About Hitler, but dropped it, citing legal reasons. In the Observer last Sunday, Nick Cohen attacked Heinemann, as well as other publishers that later declined the book, for their "gutlessness".

Cohen was unfair about Granta's position: the publisher was preparing to bring out Telling Lies About Hitler, and had increased its libel insurance, when it fell out with Evans and Wylie over contractual arrangements. Nevertheless, some companies were clearly afraid of a discredited figure.

Lying BookIrving has intimidated booksellers too. He had threatened them when they put Denying the Holocaust on sale, and he wrote to potential distributors of the US edition of Telling Lies About Hitler alleging that the book was defamatory. Some wrote back to assure him that they would not stock it.

The intimidation of booksellers by the likes of Irving -- Robert Maxwell and Neil and Christine Hamilton are among the others who have tried it -- may be coming to an end. The Law Commission is supporting a proposal that the defamation act be amended so that plaintiffs may not sue retailers without also suing the author or the publisher of the book concerned.

David Irving comments:

IT BEGINS to look as though a certain professor is just itching to get somebody to take a swing at him in The Strand. Look at that interesting line about the Granta firm having "increased its libel insurance", in anticipation of publishing the Evans book; what does that tell us about what even Granta thought about its content?
   What effect might it have on a jury, to hear that publisher after publisher has clearly recognized that the proposed book is libellous, and that they are going into all these contortions to find some way of thwarting the Defamation Act.
   The reason that plaintiffs (or "claimants" as they are now more properly called) used to sue distributors as well as authors was that distributors had the money to meet the costs, whereas authors often did not; and publishers were sometimes straw companies with no assets (the publisher of the smear-sheet Searchlight is an example). We happen to know that Professor Evans recently came into some money, so the former condition does not obtain.

Nicholas Clee is editor of The Bookseller. Readers of the Guardian can subscribe to it for £13.35 per month and receive the next eight issues free at My Subscriptions

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002

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 Table: How much Professor Lipstadt's neutral, utterly objective experts were paid to express their objective, utterly neutral views in the trial (hint: millions)
  Mr Irving warns Prof Evans on Feb 9, 2002 not to publish his US book in UK before the lies are taken out (similar letters went to UK distributors) | but Evans's own US publisher now drops its plans to publish him in UK (Radical's Diary) | and UK distributors refuse to handle it
 Evans book to hit UK bookstands: Nick Cohen writes in The Observer: June 17, 2002 "At last, an English publisher has had the guts to stand up to David Irving ... a neo-Nazi fraud with a smattering of legal jargon" | David Irving replies
  Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm) interview reveals Evans plans to publish his Lying book in UK after all [Swedish] [see David Irving, Radical's Diary]
  Bertelsmann-Ableger [Heinemann-Verlag] kneift vor David Irving | Mr Irving warns new publisher | Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Angst vor David Irving: Heinemann zieht ein Buch zurück
  The Observer (London) whinges about "A ploy named Sue": Other publishers are now suddenly frightened of lying about Mr Irving | [ and Mr Irving's response]
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