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Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007

As the Trustees seized my possessions five years ago, one of them sneered, "We act in all these high-profile political cases, you know." Now the boot is on the other foot.

truck reverses gingerly through the gates of our new Windsor home, bringing back 150 boxes of archive files

click for originWatched by hidden CCTV cameras, a seven-ton truck reverses gingerly through the gates of our Windsor home, bringing back 150 boxes of archive files illegally seized with our home in Grosvenor Square five years ago. 

October 15, 2007 (Monday)
Windsor - Wiltshire - Windsor (England)

Carla VenchiaruttiI HAD very enjoyable dreams of meeting Carla Venchiarutti again -- she worked with me -- I told her in the dream it was 1982 that I last saw her. Probably correct, too.

At two p.m. I drive down to Wiltshire and load up the last two heavy boxes of my stuff (returned some years ago on my demand from the German Bundesarchiv). I joke that next month may see the tide reversed and everything coming back! My brother, not joking, says that is out of the question. His warehouse is now packed with factory stuff, as his own orders boom.

Nick Jackson of the newspaper The Independent was going to come out here and do a face-to-face interview for their newspaper. A hush fell on the arrangements for some days, and yesterday I asked if I should put the file away. He has replied today: "I'm afraid so. After long conversation on this, my editor decided she did not think it was appropriate."

No skin off my nose, but so much for "Independence". The same newspaper sent Marianne Macdonald, the Girl in Black Stockings, to interview me ten years ago; she was twenty-eight then, and probably looks even better now than she did then. These things matter. She did a super feature profile with whole-page photographs, which The Independent published on April 6, 1997; only The Sunday Telegraph ever published a more favorable profile article than that; oh, and Naomi Bliven in The New Yorker. -- "What cowards," I tell Nick. "Oxford University is in uproar at the mere thought I may come and address the union, and your editor buries her head in the sand…"


October 16, 2007 (Tuesday)
Windsor (England)

TODAY the possessions wrongfully seized by the court-appointed Trustees in May 2002 come back to me as a result of my High Court action against them: the action has still to be heard, but the Court ordered earlier this year that I am to be allowed to check them for all the items that have gone missing during their five year absence or have been stolen by one of Lipstadt's "experts" (as we were informed had happened); and then the Trustees are to have a chance to come here and find them, and then: pay-day.

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Next city Birmingham , October 26, 2007, buffet and talk, 7-10 pm

When my work on the remaining three books is finished, I shall ask around the universities for a purchaser for the archives: Boston University wanted to make an offer some years back, but my good friend Dr Howard Gotlieb, their archive genius, died a year or two ago and his successor may not share his acquisitive zeal. In 1998 I persuaded Gotlieb to acquire the papers of the late Tyler Kent, right, the US "traitor" in the US embassy in London who furnished Conservative politicians with illicit copies of Winston Churchill's furtive dealings with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, before he even became prime minister.


IT is a mellow autumn morning, and the trees all round are shedding their leaves. The truck arrives around 10:30 a.m. and backs in through our gates. A genial representative of the Trustees is there too, to keep tally as the archive boxes are carried in and get signatures.

As the Trustees seized my possessions five years ago, one of them sneered, "We act in all these high-profile political cases, you know." Now the boot is on the other foot, and I have a massive compensation claim rolling in the High Court against them.

archive boxesThree or four deep, the heavy boxes are stacked around the walls of the room that I have set aside as a new archives, under the ancient roof -- the old pool-room is ideal. At 12.30 p.m. the truck finally rolls out of the gate. The men have left 170 boxes, identical tough archive boxes, in my new archive room. The boxes line the wall and there is a "table" of boxes in the center. I spent four years listing and indexing these archives for the Lipstadt trial. The lists are now useless, as everything has been reshuffled like a stack of cards into these new boxes.

But it means that the American "scholar" Deborah Lipstadt has finally lost another battle. She went to court two years ago to claim that all my possessions, and especially the archives, should never be returned to me but given to her. Six months later she quietly withdrew her claim, as it was hopeless. Under the Rules of the Supreme Court she thus became liable for all my costs, around ten thousand pounds: in the courts of England, a litigant who withdraws or loses an action has to pay all the costs -- normally.

Who knows what, if anything, went on behind the scenes in this case. The judge found that "special considerations" applied, as he called them, and allowed her to escape paying.

Now the products of my forty years of archive- and historical research have come back under, literally, my own roof. My eighty-odd precious Blue Volumes of documents -- original diaries etc. which I had collected and which I had bound into volumes over the years, -- have come back (or so the Trustee's representative says: I have certainly glimpsed some)! Hooray. But I now have to spend weeks inspecting every box to see what is missing. I have been deprived of their use for five years, four months, and six days. I have done all this so far without the aid of lawyers.

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