Sunday, March 18, 2001
I have read Nick Cohen's opinionated piece about the laws of libel ("A Ploy named Sue", 18.3.01), where he makes hostile reference to myself.
True, the courts may find it astonishing that you venture to express such bold views about a matter which is under appeal (to be heard on June 11). But you and I know the reason why that is, don't we?
And, characteristic of your way with facts, you write:
"Irving admitted speaking at British National Party rallies." This absurd statement was just one of the several allegations tossed at me by Prof. Evans and others which even Mr. Justice Gray refused to accept.[*]
But there is a larger issue about the publishing industry's desire to do away with the laws of defamation. Just suppose, for example, that a serious Sunday newspaper accuses an historian of falsifying documents, of cheating colleagues out of the credit, and of stealing glass microfiches from a Moscow secret archives, -- to give just a few random examples -- what other recourse does that person have than to the libel courts, if the same newspaper baldly refuses even to print his letter of denial?
Should he allows those stories to stand unchallenged? Is that not precisely what the laws are for -- to protect the powerless individual against the moneyed might of the bullying press?
[* Only this paragraph was printed by The Observer on Sunday, March 25, 2001 ]