Documents on the International Campaign for Real History

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Focal Point  Attempts to Crush Focal Point Publications.


Historical Summary

AFTER BRITISH historian David Irving founded Focal Point Publications as a means of keeping his more important works in print, and more recently of publishing original works of history and biography by other authors, the traditional enemies of free speech resorted increasingly to violent methods in their attempt to destroy this important bridgehead into their own stronghold.
As will be seen in his history of his own ordeal, Global Vendetta, their representatives -- in the U.K., primarily the agencies of the Board of Deputies of British Jews -- conducted a series of clandestine operations in which, among other things, they

  • applied economic pressure to our book printers
  • harassed the editors of major British newspapers
  • smashed the windows of major bookstore chains which stocked our books
  • intimidated the department managers of selected bookstores
  • twisted the arms of the chief buyers of major bookstore chains like W H Smith, John Menzies, and Books Etc.; and
  • defaced and damaged our books on bookstore shelves.

After FPP sold rights in Mr Irving's biography, Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich, to the major New York publishing firm St Martin's Press, the American consorts of these illiberal people (primarily the ADL) started a campaign of terror against the American publisher, which resulted in SMP repudiating its contracts with the author and publisher in April 1996.
One night at the 1997 Chicago BookExpo, they vandalised our stand.
We continued to ply our trade within the law like any other respectable publishing firm. In March 1997, we took out prominent whole- and half-page colour advertisements, including a sober and stately whole page advertisement for Churchill's War, vol. ii, and adverts for our forthcoming publishing programme in the leading trade magazine The Bookseller, and in its London International Book Show Supplement. The traditional enemies of free speech bombarded The Bookseller with abusive letters for having carried this advertising. It struck us at the time that these letters referred not to "Focal Point," but (incorrectly) to "Focal Press."

IN RETROSPECT it seems that the letter writers -- mostly Leftwing, lesbian, and anarchist bookshops, were deliberately positioning FPP for a legal ambush by the rightful owners of the title Focal Press, enabling the latter to threaten British High Court proceedings unless FPP ceased operations under its own (different) name. Mr Irving has however refused to comply with their insolent demand.
La lotta continua...

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Focal Point Publications placed this advertisement for Churchill’s War, vol. ii in The Bookseller and its special International Book Show supplement, March 1998. Click for a full size display.

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The Bookseller, March 20, 1998


Focal Point advertisements

Sir, We are booksellers who wish to express our outrage at the adverts from Focal Point, printed in the booksellers' guide to the 1998 London International Book Fair.

David Irving is a propagator of the theory of "holocaust denial". There can be no doubting his political beliefs:

"The Jews are very foolish not to abandon the gas chamber theory while they still have time." (quoted in Holocaust Denial: The New Nazi Lie, Anti Nazi League, 1992).

"The infamous gas chambers at Auschwitz, Treblinka and Majdanek did not exist - ever - except as the brainchild of Britain's Psychological Warfare Executive." (same source).

Irving has taken legal action against booksellers for stocking books that expose his politics. He has even threatened legal action against booksellers for refusing to stock his own books. His ideas are dangerous and must be forcefully challenged and his activities are a direct threat to booksellers across the country. We are outraged that The Bookseller, the Booksellers Assocation and the LIBF should lend respectability and legitimacy to such an author by accepting his advertisements.

We call on:

  • the Booksellers Association to formally disassociate itself from the adverts in the book fair guide;
  • the organisers of the London International Book Fair to refuse a stand to Irving and his publishing company, Focal Point Publications;
  • The Bookseller magazine to publish an apology and to donate the revenue from the adverts to anti-fascist campaigners.

Simon Hester
Bookmarks, Bloomsbury

Mike Hart
Finchley Bookshop, London

Kevin Ramage
Owl Bookshop, Kentish Town

Geoff Thurley
Index Bookcentre, Brixton

BA Wood
Littlethorne Books, Leicester

Elaine Henry
Word Power Bookshop, Edinburgh

Kay Carter
Green Leaf Books, Bristol

Nina Linton
Green Leaf Books, Bristol

Maria Siulee Ng
News from Nowhere, Liverpool

Jill Harris
News from Nowhere, Liverpool

Julie Callaghan
News from Nowhere, Liverpool

Tony Zurbrugg
Africa Book Centre, Covent Garden

Nick Manley
Federation of Radical Bookshops


Sir, We were extremely concerned to see the adverts for David Irving's publishing company Focal Point in The Bookseller's essential guide to the London International Bookfair.

David Irving is a revisionist who denies the Holocaust. In his book Hitler's War he claims that Hitler had no knowledge of the Holocaust. He denies that six million Jews were gassed by the Nazis.

Branches of Dillons, Waterstones and other bookshops refuse to stock his books. In 1992 the Sunday Times dropped Irving, who was supposed to translate Goebbel's diaries, after a huge outcry against him. Historians will not debate with Irving, who is forced to hold meetings in secret. His meetings are policed by the British National Party and Combat 18.

The advert for Focal Point also publicises a book by Mark Deavin. He is a leading member of the British National Party.

David Irving and Mark Deavin should not be given any further publicity for their views.

Claire Dissington
Anti Nazi League
PO Box 2566, London N4 2HG

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Letter from David Irving to The Bookseller, March 25, 1998

From: David Irving, Focal Point Publications, London

To:    The Bookseller
      Letters column


I have just seen the two letters you print attacking Focal Point Publications in your issue of March 20. You might consider printing the enclosed reply:-

"While your several correspondents (March 20) have every right to express their views about other publishers, and even to risk misrepresenting their "political beliefs," they have no more right to try to suppress books which they disapprove of than did Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, who tried with equal lack of success to burn opposition works out of existence; nor to smash bookshop windows (a method that our critics tried in 1992, without success, since regular booksellers seem to be made of sterner stuff than they are); nor to use the more old-fashioned methods of poison-pen and defamation, which are the cause of the legal actions referred to. These, against The Observer and Gitta Sereny, and against Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books Ltd., are still current. I have no doubt that the courts will establish who is in the right in this controversy."

Not for publication:- the legal actions referred to by your correspondents are not against booksellers who expose our politics or for refusing to stock our hooks. They are straightforward libel actions under the Defamation Act, and any bookseller who peddles libels must reckon with the consequences. They apologised, and I discontinued the action against them.

Yours sincerely,

David Irving

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The Bookseller, March 27, 1998

Irving and censorship

Sir, I am appalled by the letters about David Irving and Focal Press (20th March). In our business it is our duty to reject censorship of any kind. We should, as booksellers, be followers of Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." The only judge-ment a bookseller has to make is whether a book will sell.

I have no sympathy for Mr Irving's absurd views on the Holocaust, but none of us has any right to stop him holding those views. It is ironic that the same people who would wish to prevent Focal Press from going about their business would be the first people to condemn Rupert Murdoch for censoring Chris Patten. There is no difference.

If the general public wishes to buy books by Mr Irving it has every right to do so&emdash;at this branch of Waterstones anyway.

Perry A Bushell
United Reformed Building
98a Broad Street,
Reading RG1 2AP

The Bookseller, April 3, 1998

Freedom of speech

Sir, We were shocked to read the let-ter from Perry Bushell (27th March) defending David Irving and Focal Press, claiming somehow that the selling of his books was upholding freedom of speech. No freedom is ever complete, Mr Bushell. There always has to be a balance of rights and responsibilities.

As booksellers we have a duty to the public not to promote racial hatred and there are good laws that forbid this. It is by the most perverse twist of argument that Mr Bushell plays his Voltairian intellectual games to support the propagation of Holocaust denial, but we would remind him that there is a world of difference between an opinion and a well-proven and substantiated his-torical fact.

There is a voice not heard in this debate and that is the voice of the millions of people who were system-atically hunted down, rounded up, tortured and killed by the Nazis. Mr Bushell might have an opinion very different from the one he now holds if most of his family had been among those murdered.

We have a moral obligation not to promote dangerous lies and pro-paganda. There is only one lesson that the Holocaust can teach us and that is Never Again. It saddens me that at the time when we are all see-ing the disappearance of so many independent radical bookselling colleagues, the only voice from the big chains should be for selling Holocaust denial.

Chris and Richard Farrah-Mills
Out! Booksellers
4-7 Dorset Street
Brighton BN2 IWA.

The Bookseller, April 10, 1998

Freedom of speech

Sir, Like Mr Bushell, I, too, believe in Voltaire but let us distinguish between disapproval of a set of views and specious assertions that lead in a straight line to the incite-ment of ethnic, religious or any other kind of hatred.

Is there anything in Chris Patten's book which foments hatred against the Chinese? If not, please tell us where the irony is that Mr Bushell claims.

No publisher or bookseller should have anything to do with peddling hate or helping to peddle it.

David Grossman
David Grossman Literary Agency
118b Holland Park Avenue
London W11 4UA.



Focal Press

Sir, In the letter from Perry Bushell (27th March) reference was made erroneously to Focal Press. I would like to make it clear to readers that Focal Press, which is an imprint of Butterworth-Heinemann, is in no way connected with David Irving or Focal Point Publications.

Neil Warnock-Smith
Publishing Director
Focal Press
Linacre House
Oxford OX2 8DP


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Halley Court
Jordan Hill
Oxford OX2 8EJ
Telephone: 01865 314641
Fax: 01865 314641




Please reply to:
Halsbury House
35 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1EL

16th April 1998



Direct dial: 0171 400 2928
Fax: 0171 400 2506



0171 409 7048

Mr David Irving
Focal Point Publications
81 Duke Street
London WC2A 1EL

Dear Mr Irving,

Focal Point Publications

Reed Educational & Professional Publishing Limited ("REPP") is part of the Reed Elsevier plc international publishing group. It is the owner of the Focal Press and Focal imprints, which have been in use since the late 1930's and carry significant goodwill in the book trade.

REPP is the proprietor of three registered trade marks for printed publications (registration numbers 683149, 647218 and 650494) relating to these imprints. Details of these registrations are shown on the enclosed sheets.

We have recently become aware of your use of the trading name: "Focal Point Publication" to publish and promote your books; also, from your internet site, of the use of the name "Focal Point" and of the trade mark "F" in combination with the name Focal Point, for the same purpose.

As a result of these activities, there have been instances of actual confusion between Focal Point and REPP's Focal Press. Letters from booksellers published in "The Bookseller" on 27 March and 3 April 1998, regarding your publications and your promotion of them, have mistakenly referred to your business as "Focal Press". REPP has also had at least one telephone enquiry from a prospective customer asking for details of your books, mistakenly believing Focal Press to be your publishing business.

By applying the name Focal Point and the trade mark "F" to your publications you are infringing REPP's registered trade marks and its common law rights.

REPP does not dispute your right to hold and publish your opinions, but does not want to be associated with such views by the book selling trade and other potential customers. By infringing REPP's trade marks and common law rights in the name Focal and Focal Press, you are creating the misleading impression that we are associated with such views and the resulting confusion is likely to be very damaging to REPP's business.

REPP takes this matter sufficiently seriously to commence High Court legal proceedings against you without further notice if I do not receive from you the undertakings set out below by no later than 4.00 p.m. on Friday 24 April. We are likely to proceed by way of an interlocutory injunction and/or summary judgement.

The undertakings we require are:

  1. Immediately to cease use of the name Focal Point or Focal Point Publications and the mark "F" and not to use any similar marks in the future (including any name which incorporates the word FOCAL or anything similar).
  2. Immediately to amend your Internet site so that all references to the name Focal Point (or Focal Point Publications) or the "F" mark or anything similar to either are removed.
  3. Within 14 days to destroy or deliver up to us all materials in your possession, power or control which contain the Focal Point ( or Focal Point Publications) or the "F" mark.

REPP's rights in respect of compensation by way of damages or an account of profits are reserved.

Yours sincerely
  Jane Moore
Legal Adviser


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E-Mail reply from David Irving to Jane Moore, Reed Educational and Professional Publishing, April 17, 1998:

Your letter of April 16 has been forwarded to me by my London office, and I shall seek advice on your complaint. I may state in advance however that I have no intention of desisting from using the upper-case Goudy Bold letter F in our logo and, without prejudice to any further advice I may receive, I would point out that we have in the ten years or more of trading as Focal Point Publications never once received any evidence of confusion between our trading name and those (different) names or trademarks to which you claim exclusive title; nor do you appear to have taken parallel action against several other corporate entities with similar names of which we are aware. I can be reached direct by e-mail on until my return to the UK early in May.

[Signed: David Irving]

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Letter from Jane Moore of Reed to David Irving, April 27, 1998

Without prejudice

Thank you for your email of 18 April, which arrived by fax, eventually. You had my address right, but had spelt my name wrongly. I note what you say about being out of the country, but unfortunately we are advised that we must press on as delay could prejudice our rights to remedy.

However, your email suggested there might be a way we could resolve this - that you continue to use the 'F' logo, but cease the use of Focal Point - perhaps using the 'FPP' abbreviation. It is the use of the word 'Focal' which concerns us, as this is clearly the reason for the confusion which has recently taken place. If we have to pursue our legal remedies, we must go for the whole lot, but we would be prepared to settle on your continuing to use the 'F' but agreeing not to use any name including the word 'Focal'. Each side paying its own costs.

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Reply from David Irving to Jane Moore of Reed, April 27, 1998

Dear Jane

thank you for your Without Prejudice e-mail. I return to the UK on Monday and will at once consult my legal adviser. I appreciate your proposal, but it would be wrong for me to say that I am confident that we can reach an agreement on that basis. However, I shall be guided in my response next week by what my adviser tells me.

Yours faithfully,

David Irving


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Reply from David Irving to Jane Moore of Reed, May 14, 1998, refusing to drop FPP trade name.

London, Thursday, May 14, 1998

Dear Madam,

I can now revert to the subject of your complaint about our use of the F logo and name Focal Point Publications. I am sorry to say that, having taken legal advice yesterday, I can offer no prospect that we will refrain from doing so, as you request. We have been using the Focal Point name since 1981 and our display advertisements have repeatedly appeared in trade publications in this country, for example The Bookseller, displaying that name and Focal Point Publications. Every national newspaper in the country has reviewed books which we publish, also referring to our name as publisher. We have invested time, money, and effort in establishing a good reputation and good will for the name. In all the years of trading we have not experienced one example of confusion between our imprint and your company; we receive book orders via fax, telephone, teleordering, and e-mail, and have never once received an order for your products misdirected to our address. The ISBN system would appear to preclude such confusion in any case. Nor have you referred to us, over the years, any orders for our products which might have been misdirected to your firm. A cursory search of trade directories, company lists and telephone books has disclosed a number of other firms with similar names.

2. If you wish us to abandon our trade name, as requested, we would be prepared to do so only upon payment of suitable compensation to us, which we would assess at not less than £50,000.

3. If it is your intention to apply ex parte for an injunction, as you indicated, please be so good as to bring this letter to the attention of the Court; we shall certainly resist any such application at the inter partes hearing.

Yours sincerely,

David Irving



To: Ms Jane Moore, Legal Services,
Halley Court
Jordan Hill
Oxford OX2 8EJ

© Focal Point 1998   write to David Irving