Posted Tuesday, May 21, 2002

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 Yes, like the forest, one's life is dappled with somber shades and sunlit patches of great happiness. And now we are starting anew in a new home. -- David Irving





May 20, 2002 (Monday)
Centralia (Washington) -- Grant's Pass (Oregon)

9:25-30 am I phone Bente. It turns out that the Appeal is being heard tomorrow at eleven a.m. That is news to me. She asked [our lawyer] outright, hand on heart, what the chances were; he said, "Not good." She is now furious that she did not go down to the court herself. The lawyers have just let it drift.

So by this time tomorrow, I will be wiser and, no doubt, sadder. I set out again southwards at 9:40 a.m. and arrive at Grant's Pass at 3:30 p.m. from where I send an email to the lawyers ending with these words: "Incidentally, a very dear old lady at Seattle yesterday, who has [contributed] for several years mentioned that she has left me a substantial amount in her will (never married, her fiancé died at Tobruk: on the German side, of course). She is concerned to ensure that any bequest does not go to the enemy. I am going to suggest tactfully that she can avoid that by leaving it to Bente and Jessica instead. Of course, I wished her every best of health meanwhile."

During the evening I mail out invitations to all my Salt Lake City and Utah supporters, and send emails to the San Francisco and Sacramento lists. All very haphazard. I try to work out who might be "moles", but it is not easy.


May 21, 2002 (Tuesday)
Grant's Pass (Oregon) -- Northern California

THEN this morning, when I telephone Bente in London, I hear that the High Court has this morning rejected our Appeal and that we shall lose Duke Street within a very few days, in fact almost immediately. Penguin Books Ltd have prevailed. Thus the enemy seize the home where I have lived since late 1968: nearly thirty-four years at one address.

It is three hours before our rather expensive firm of lawyers sends me a formal report on the morning's hearing. It was evidently all very gentlemanly, the only point of interest being that the Judge unexpectedly suggested to Penguin Ltd that they come clean about who had financed their defence: we had always argued that they had not paid the costs themselves, and were thus not entitled to the Order that Judge Gray made in May 2000, namely that I pay them £150,000 on account.

Adrian Davies, my very capable barrister, tells me in a message that "this suggestion caused the huge Penguin team evident consternation" and no wonder: the witness statement (affidavit) that Kevin Bays of Messrs Davenport Lyons, their lawyers, at once composed and laid before the Court makes plain that Penguin had paid not one penny themselves -- their entire costs had been paid by an outside insurance firm, apart from the value added tax (which of course Penguin will have had refunded to them in full by HM Customs).

So why did the Court not today throw out Gray's Order and grant us victory? It is a mystery to me, but I have grown accustomed to mysteries in this episode.

I was myself in Court in May 2000 and heard Judge Gray, upon Adrian's insistence, ask the same question as to who had actually paid the lawyers' bills for Penguin Books: After the lunch adjournment, Heather Rogers, the rotund little junior barrister for Penguin and Lipstadt, came bustling back into court and assured the Judge verbally that she had been "instructed" by Davenport Lyons that Penguin had paid all the bills themselves. Gray, relieved, accepted her word on that, tout court, and merely sniffed at Adrian's half-hearted insistence that they produce documentary proof to back this up.

Now we know that Penguin Books, their lawyers, and their counsel all lied to Judge Gray: They themselves had paid nothing. A minor detail, evidently. Had I lied, I would have been sent to prison for perjury; when they lie, they are rewarded with the home where I have lived for thirty-four years.


SOMETHING of a scramble begins to save precious items from the premises while we still can -- not simplified by the fact that I am locked into a lecture tour, some six thousand miles and eight time zones away from London: Save the negatives of the photos of the two families I have raised; find and secure the fifty-thousand-card index on Adolf Hitler's activities -- product of the first twelve years of my work on his biography; protect the precious computers and printers, the source books, the documents, and the items I will still need for the libel action against Guardian Newspapers Ltd and Gitta Sereny!

The wires between Oregon and London fairly hum for two hours. It is midday before I set off south from Grant's Pass down the spectacular Redwood Highway toward California.

For the first sixty miles the route is routine mountain-pass scenery, but for the last ten miles into Crescent City, Richard Wagner and Carl-Maria von Weber take over: the backdrop is pure Der Freitschütz. The giant Redwoods are thicker and grow more dense, their trunks now wider than a London red doubledecker; the trees rear up into the sky like New York skyscrapers, their tops lost in the low, white, wet clouds swirling around them; great banks of cloud and rain seem to stream upwards out of the valleys, pouring through the trees. Shafts of sunlight stab through them, the mist rises from the rotting, centuries-old floor of the forest, the huge trees crowd closer and closer together.

All pretence of road safety is abandoned, as the planners resignedly allow these ancient trees, some of them one, two, or three thousand years old, to step right up to the edge of the tarmac; the road winds reverently between them, because Man knows very well What and Who are the masters here: it is the Trees, and He who created them.

I drive for seven hours, wanting to celebrate this feast of nature, but my brain disobediently reviews instead the three decades and more that the home in Duke Street has belonged to me. JosephineSudden snapshots, vignettes of happy years, pop out in front of the car and fade behind me: first of all it is little Josephine, just five (left), playing at the far end of the hall, a pool of sunlight seeming to set her hair on fire; then a picture of Bente carrying our newborn Jessica, a tiny bundle, up the stairs -- I think I even filmed that; then I can hear the four older children in their bunk beds, reciting prayers and listening to the bedtime horror stories that I make up for them -- The Red Shark of the River Spree is one, The Giant of the Guadarrama Tunnel is another.

Sometimes I tested their foreign vocabularies instead of a story -- they were all brought up learning four languages. Asked the French for honey, Paloma, five, takes a wild but educated guess: "'oney," she says, suppressing the initial "h".

Josephine was often poorly, once with pleurisy. On Christmas Day they always found that Father Christmas had dutifully spread newspapers across the floor from the fireplace to their bedroom, on which the imprint of his sooty footprints could be clearly seen. When they were young, we dressed them in identical powder-blue Harris Tweed overcoats from Harrods. But then they went their separate ways, all of them, the whole family, scattered now around the world, or watching over me while I drive.

And for thirty-four years I sat in my study, always the same room, one of the two largest in the apartment, writing, writing, writing. This whole middle span of my life, paid for by the ink that flowed from the tip of my fountain pen.

 Red Wood Highway, California 199

THE Redwood Highway down into northern California is very empty today. As my big car, heavy laden with those books that I have written, growls up and down the mountain passes, dwarfed by the oddly named "groves" of gigantic trees, I recall the darker times at Duke Street, as the well-financed campaign of the traditional enemy of the truth gained its ugly momentum against me.

I was sitting in the study with Tom Congdon, my US editor, one day in 1980, working with him on The War Between the Generals, when two men armed with sledgehammers smashed the front door down; they turned and fled when I gave chase. They came from an East End commune, I later learned.

There were nights when we awoke to hear the sound of steel barricades being unloaded from police trucks, because Miriam Karlin and all the rest of her unappetising street gang were going to "demonstrate" next day. Once, in 1992, West End Central police station telephoned from Savile Row and asked if they could photograph the whole interior of the apartment. I asked why, and they said: "In case we have to come and rescue you. We need to know the layout." It was quite usual, they said, in such emergencies, and they wanted to be prepared; he added that they had reason, on this occasion, for their request.

Throughout those thirty-four years, as many a curious visitor noticed, there was a four-foot sharpened steel spike propped up within easy reach at one end of the hall. When Jessica was young, I also kept a Moses basket with a length of wire in the drawing room next to the window, in case we had to lower her to safety if the building was set on fire.

Yes, the apartment saw its share of drama and sorrow: sitting in my study, preparing the action against Deborah Lipstadt in September 1999, I received the unexpected phone call telling me of Josephine's sudden death, and I had to phone her sisters and pass the awful news on to them. That was, I think, my darkest moment. Two hours after the funeral, the wreathundertakers delivered a wreath to which was attached a card using wording that betrayed an unusually detailed knowledge of the Third Reich; it gloatingly intimated that my daughter, who was terribly disabled, had had it coming to her. The wreath was purchased anonymously, for cash, at a Bloomsbury flower shop a few hundred yards from the office of Lipstadt's lawyers, Messrs. Mishcon de Reya.

Yes, like the forest, one's life is dappled with somber shades and sunlit patches of great happiness. And now we are starting anew in a new home. What an excitement: That is the way I shall look upon it.

I bore (and still bear) no malice toward Lipstadt's publisher, Penguin Books, part of the six-billion pound Pearson Group; I twice privately offered to drop the action against them (but not against her) if they would pay, say, five hundred pounds to a charity for the limbless in memory of Josephine. They chose to spend two million pounds buying expensive "expert witness" opinions, and to flood the courtroom with money instead. I can still hold my head up high, and nothing -- nothing at all -- will change the way that I write history.


Previous Radical's Diary
Witness statement of Penguin's lawyer Kevin Bays: he admits that Penguin's insurers paid their costs in Lipstadt libel action
NJ lawyer Gary Redish gloats that Mr Irving's next home will be a cardboard box in The Strand
The Guardian report, Wednesday, May 22, 2002
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