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Posted Sunday, December 16, 2007

As we saw in the Lipstadt case, there are always court officials who are capable of seeing which side of their toast has the mantequilla buttered on it.

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December 15, 2007 (Saturday)
Lleida - Barcelona (Spain)

KEEP b*ggering on, as Winston Churchill used to say. I drive into Barcelona around three pm, and check into the Saint Moritz. It has a good Internet connection, and I tinker with the website. Couldn't do it yesterday from Lleida hotel, any more than I could when I stopped there in the spring. Must be a filter somewhere on their system.

Pedro Varela (left) and friend come to fetch me around six pm, and explain there is "a snag" with this evening's lecture: the police ("los Mossos") have cordoned off the entire city center against leftist demonstrators who want to stop me speaking; there are truckloads of police in the side streets, every street into the center has been blocked by trucks and police cars, and a judge has issued an order preventing the meeting going ahead. Pedro shows me the legal document, headed Juzgado. Oddly, it is in Spanish, not Catalán. The Judge of the Guardia, a woman, has granted an application emailed to her by one Dalia Levinsohn, a lawyer, president of the Comunidad Israelita de Barcelon, i.e. head of the Jewish community umbrella authority, the equivalent of the ill-fated "Daia" body in Buenos Aires, calling for the meeting to be stopped, the entire contents of the Europa bookstore to be seized, and other sanctions.

It no longer strikes me as remarkable that the very people who proclaim loudest that they have never tried to stop me speaking are always the ones who turn out to have worked hardest behind the scenes. But it does seem remarkable that such an order can be obtained ex parte. Even against Lipstadt I could have done little more last week than obtain an ex parte hearing of an application. The actual bench warrant would have been considerably more difficult to obtain except intra partes (i.e., with her lawyers present).

As Varela reads the document he explains that this Levinsohn woman has earlier tried three other judges this week and drawn three blanks, before stumbling across this compliant one: the first three threw out her request as monstrous -- an application to stop a British historian addressing a private audience in a bookstore. But as we saw in the Lipstadt case, there are always court officials who are capable of seeing which side of their toast has the mantequilla buttered on it.

We drive from the hotel into the center. There are flashing blue lights everywhere I look. We crawl past streets and alleys blocked off by police trucks and even armoured vehicles. The Mossos have thrown a ring of steel around the center and blocked the main boulevard, Avinguda Diagonal, at the Passeig de Grácias. It is the Oxford Union, ten times over.

We park on the perimeter, and get police officers to escort us through the cordon to the colonel in charge, a burly, jovial officer surrounded by heavily armed riot police wearing more padding that American footballers. I am glad I'm not footing the bill for this madness.

At the University of California in Berkeley in 1995 I had to do just that: stump up $5,000 at the last minute for extra police to protect the hall, after Hillel thugs a few months earlier had wrecked the YWCA salon I was speaking in: "my" expensively hired Berkeley police spent the evening keeping my audience out of the hall; so I stopped payment on the $5,000 cheque and UCB, oddly, never complained.

The police chief tells Varela he has orders to allow me to address an audience consisting only of journalists, provided we authorise the presence of a police film unit who will record the entire event: a transcript will go to the Spanish judge to decide if I have broken any laws.

Welcome to Spain, and welcome to Free Speech, twenty-first century style; but I am perfectly content with this -- as Adolf Hitler himself found in the 1920s, opponents and the press will otherwise always twist what has been said to make it sound like it breaks the law; he introduced verbatim stenographers to record every function and courtroom he spoke in.

A hundred empty chairs face me in the makeshift hall built onto the back of the bookstore in the Calle Seneca. Over the next hour, one hundred press and television journalists are filtered in, subjected to body-searches by the police and their credentials checked. It is standing room only. For a moment I toy with using my Heathrow airport security-line jibe: "You have Israel to thank for all this." But that observation too might now be illegal in Spain.

A different lecture is now called for. In order to leave the journalists ample time for questions, I deliver a shortened talk on the problems of writing Real History in modern Europe -- of which this evening has been a classical example. I often wonder what it is that the traditional enemies are so frantic to prevent me saying, cost them what it may. Whatever it is, I must say it louder, and more often.


UNFORTUNATELY encouraged by the stirring applause which comes from the listeners, Pedro Varela steps into this time slot and delivers an impassioned harangue of some thirty minutes about Palestine -- lambasting Jews, Zionists, Americans, the Left and everybody else within reach, while cameras click and whir and flashbulbs fizz. I silently squirm with anger and annoyance: it reminds me of Cape Town in 1987, where our then chairman Clive Derby Lewis -- now on Death Row in Pretoria -- did much the same, delighted to find himself facing a two-thousand strong audience on which to bestow his blatherings.

I hiss genug! three times to Varela, sotto voce, but he is in full swing and not inclined to give up this opportunity to enrich 100 journalists with his views. Some put down their pens and fold away their notebooks. Several pack and leave before he finishes.

I do not know any antidote to this kind of thing: Vincent B. did the same to me in Tallahassee once, when an Australian television channel was filming -- he delivered at my side a fiery speech on the White race and patriotism, while I edged further and further out of camera-shot; if I had edged any further I would have found myself edging the lawn outside.

Vince apologized afterwards, and so, sheepishly, does Varela now. The damage is done. My photo will be in the press -- coupled with his vapourings on the Zionists, which was certainly not the advertised topic of the evening.

As for the applause, it turns out that several members of the original audience have braved the cordons and got past the police scrutiny -- a good looking couple have driven over from Trento in Italy, and I am able to shake the hands of several Spaniards who wrote letters to me while in prison. It turns out that Varela was housed in the same prison wing in Vienna while he was a guest of the Austrians.

Hear David Irving speak in British cities. Register interest 
Next cities Liverpool Jan 12, and Halifax: buffet and talk 7-10 pm

December 16, 2007 (Sunday)
Barcelona (Spain) - Rheims (France)

Up at 9 a.m., Internet things. This morning's grateful Spanish press have handsome photos of Varela standing at my side, coupled with excerpts from his speech about Zionism. Aargh. A textbook lesson on how not to handle the press.

A daughter emails me this report by the European Jewish Press agency (it has an odd swastika-redolent logo):

EJN"SPANISH COURT TO PROBE SPEECH BY BRITISH HOLOCAUST DENIER", it begins -- and oh, how they love that mendacious phrase.

MADRID (AFP)---A Spanish court will analyze a police recording of a speech delivered Saturday in Barcelona by British Holocaust denier David Irving to see if he violated any law during the event, police said.

Under Spanish law justifying genocide or inciting racism and xenophobia are crimes which can carry a prison sentence of up to three years.

During his speech at a Barcelona bookstore, Irving, a historian who has written over 20 books, said "there is no proof" dictator Adolf Hitler was aware of what was happening in Nazi Germany's concentration camps, the Europa Press news agency reported.

But he said "there was no doubt" that the Nazis killed two or three million Jews.

Less than 20 people turned out to hear him speak while about 100 people protested outside the bookstore which was guarded by a strong police presence, the agency said.

In 2006 a court in Austria sentenced Irving to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to denying the Holocaust but he was released and deported to Britain after serving just one-third of his sentence.

He was arrested in late 2005 on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 where he said most of those who died at Nazi concentration camps were not executed, but instead succumbed to diseases like typhus.

I set out at 10:36 a.m. on the thousand-mile drive back to London. I have to be back in time for the BBC World Service's Seventy-Fifth Birthday celebrations, to which I have been invited as an honoured "Free Speech martyr." That is going to annoy the pants off some folks if they find out.

The car's steering is slightly rocky, and one wheel is slightly out of balance. Easily fixed in the UK.

At 11:10 a.m., as I am filling up with the far cheaper Spanish gas for the last time, The Daily Telegraph's Madrid correspondent, one of Conrad Black's finest, phones for my take on last night; she inquires whether I have any fears of what the Spanish judge will do when she reads my filmed speech. I vapour on for ten minutes, and this Fleet Street ghoul then interrupts gaily, "We won't be using it unless something interesting happens, the Spanish arresting or imprisoning you, for example."

In ten minutes, I say, I will be in France. She hangs up, no doubt disappointed. Odd sense of values, journalists have.

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[Previous Radical's Diary]

Communists riot last night in Barcelona to stop David Irving speaking | hundreds of police block streets| speaks to 100 journalists while police film | more | full report later
Jewish Chronicle: David Irving claims he is preparing to serve court papers on Lipstadt [No he isn't - it's something else]
Brigitte Zypries Truly lovely lawyer - Outrage of Germany's Justice Minister as Spain junks "Holocaust Denial" law [in German] >>
Spain overturns Holocaust denial law [in English]
Austrian revisionist author Gerd Honsik, extradited from Spain to Vienna, faces trial in Austria for non-criminal acts committed not in Austria but in Spain and on the Internet: go figure [in German] | Traditional enemy's historic triumph over free speech - Spain arrests "Holocaust denier" Gerd Honsik at request of Austrian Justice Minister (left) - Austrian TV report [German] | David Irving, a Radical's Diary: on the arrest of Gerd Honsik | and memoirs about dud German lawyers and bent publishers
David Irving: A Radical's Diary on his earlier April 2007 talk in Barcelona, Spain
© Focal Point 2007 F DISmall David Irving