Sunday, January 16, 2000
re: Letter for publication: Holocaust Libel Action
[In Andrew Roberts' leading article (today) you have no doubt inadvertently repeated almost verbatim as his opinion several of the libels complained of, and added several more of his own. Please therefore print the following reply in its entirety:]
Sir,-- Being the fellow who supplied to Andrew Roberts the Lord Halifax diaries which he used to write his own definitive biography, I found his sneering article on my current libel action meagre recompense indeed. Taking just one point -- his claim to have seen on my desk a framed autograph of Adolf Hitler. I have never had any such thing. He may have confused it with the framed photograph of Sir Winston Churchill which has hung for twenty years on my wall, with a signed dedication: "Your friendship is a great privilege to me." (I bought it). The first step for a scholar must surely be to learn the difference between those two men's signatures.
For nearly forty years Mr Irving has kept a diary and telephone logs, and these reveal the following facts:
Andrew Roberts phoned me on May 12, 1989, and I invited him to lunch on May 16. He then borrowed from me the Halifax diaries and other books and papers. On May 31, from Cape Town, I phoned my London office; Roberts had left a message on the answering machine, wanting to return the Fritz Wiedemann papers and the memoirs of Frau Ribbentrop, but retain the microfilm of the diaries for a while; he invited me to lunch. On August 30 there is this entry: "9 a.m. Andrew Roberts, author, returning Halifax documents." He invited me to the launch party for his book The Holy Fox on April 9, 1990; sadly, it escaped my memory on the evening concerned and I did not attend. With fellow-biographer Michael Bloch he invited me to dinner at the Saville Club on June 12, 1991: the invitation arrived too late for me to go. On June 4, 1992 he phoned from The Sunday Telegraph, about Rudolf Hess papers which the Public Record Office were just releasing, and asking me for advice. Etc etc etc. On October 28, 1997 I noted, "Roberts is a not-bad historian." Need I say more?
Incidentally: The Times published this "Times Diary" item on January 21, 2000, based no doubt on what Roberts phoned in to them:DAVID IRVING, the eccentric historian, gave Andrew Roberts. his more thoughtful peer, a public dressing-down yesterday. Spying Roberts in the Royal Courts of Justice -- where Irving is fighting the claim of Deborah Lipstadt, the American academic, that he is a "Hitler partisan" -- Irving offered a few damning thoughts on an article Roberts wrote in last week's Sunday Telegraph. I'm writing a letter about your stinking article," screamed Irving, before he was interrupted by the clerk's "All rise". "Luckily the judge turned up," breathes a relieved Roberts. "Irving is an enormous bear of a man. He could hide a plate in one hand. He looks like a grizzly from behind. I will compose a reply."
Let this cautionary tale be a warning to other historians not to provide Mr Roberts with any help whatsoever.