International Campaign for Real History

Reports by expert witnesses were exchanged (on July 30, 1999) in the Libel Action between DJC Irving v Penguin Books Ltd and Deborah Lipstadt
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Van Pelt[Indiana University Press announcement]

In which Professor Robert Jan Van Pelt testifies on oath in January 2000 during the Lipstadt Trial that he has no plans to publish his Report as a book

D J C Irving vs. Penguin Books Ltd & Lipstadt, Day 9, January 25, 2000, pages 43-45 (Verbatim transcript by kind permission of Harry Counsell & Company)


IRVING: There is only one other very general question on the question of credit which I would ask you before we settle back and watch the 10 minute video. Your report is unusual in one respect, and your Lordship may have noticed it, it has a copyright line on page 2. In other words, you claim copyright in this document. Now, remembering you are on oath, would you tell the court if you have any intention eventually of publishing this?

VAN PELT: At the moment I do not have. I think it is an unpublishable document.

IRVING: I disagree. It is set out in chapter form. It has literary quotations at the beginning of every chapter, quotations from Mediaeval poets and other authors in a way you do not normally find in an expert report, I would have thought. I would have thought it was designed explicitly for publication at some future date?

VAN PELT: No. When the occasion would arise, I would be very pleased if some of the things could be used, but I have learned to respect a big difference, for example, between a Ph.D. dissertation and a book and there is a big difference between an expert report, and I understand this report as a means for an intelligent judge to make up his mind about Auschwitz who has never been there, which is quite a difference for when one writes a book for the general public.

IRVING: So why the copyright line?

VAN PELT: Oh, it is a habit of mine which I do whenever I submit any manuscript to anyone, and maybe this is inappropriate in this case. None of the lawyers has told me that it was inappropriate, so the copyright line remained there.

Gray JMR JUSTICE GRAY: You can have an argument about the copyright after this case is over.

IRVING: My Lord, the reason I ask this, of course, if the witness was intending to publish this work, and he has now said on oath he has no intention of publishing it, then I would ask him the following question. (To the witness): If you were to write a report which came out with the conclusion that crematorium No. II had never been used as a homicidal gas chamber, that Auschwitz was not a factory of death, that Leuchter was right, David Irving was right, whatever, what would the commercial prospects of that be as compared with the commercial prospects of the report that you have actually written? Would they be greater or less?

VAN PELT: It is difficult to say. It seems to be that the book buying habits of the people who are believing that the gas chambers were not used for homicidal purposes seems to have been much more active than for the people who believed that they were used for homicidal purposes. After all, I think that you sell more books than I sell of my Auschwitz books.

IRVING: Not currently I do not.

VAN PELT: I mean, it is very difficult to say this. Certainly, controversy seems to have served you well in the past in a number of books. I have been, I believe, in some way less controversial and controversy certainly helps sales figures in general, so I probably put some more books.

IRVING: Very well. I will take your statement that you have no intention of publishing this ever, as you have now told the court. My Lord ----

VAN PELT: May I just come back to this? I said "in this form".

MR JUSTICE GRAY: Quite briefly, if you would.

VAN PELT: Sorry?

IRVING: Quite briefly, if you would.

VAN PELT: No, I said "in this form". I did not -- I did not write this with publication in mind as such.

Related files on this website:

Index to Van Pelt
Indiana University Press announcement of Van Pelt's new book