81 DUKE STREET
London, August 9(?) 1996
Re: Bernard Levin article, "Murder most foul, as in the best it is," The Times, August 9, 1996
My attention has been drawn to a quotation from The Times, August 9, 1996, page 16, column 2, an article by Mr Bernard Levin purporting to review the life and times of M François Genoud, deceased. Your article publishes an identifiable malicious and defamatory libel on my person, as no doubt your author and editor were aware.
Your author Mr Levin writes:
Now my readers are a motley crew, which is right and proper, but I presume that none of them admire [sic] the Nazis, let alone insist that Hitler will remain one of the greatest men of our time. Of course, there are loonies in every crack and cranny, including that man who pretends to believe that there was no Holocaust, but although I will offend some of my readers, I have to say that though François Genoud stank of evil from his childhood to his grave, it is hard not to admire a man who can continue to hold such beliefs throughout a long and passionate life.
Mr Levin yet again seems willing to wound -- as witness his waiting until Genoud's death to mount this attack on the man's name -- but afraid to strike.
Permit me to remind you that
It appears that Reader's Letters no longer provide an adequate sanction to protect myself from such libels. I am sure you are aware that I have now initiated actions against The Observer, as well as Svenska Dagbladet, two British publishers, and an American "historian" for publishing broadly similar slurs on my name. Under threat of legal action, Vanity Fair has just agreed to publish my response to a similar libel by the U.S. Anti-Defamation League's director in its last issue. I do not think that I will have any difficulty persuading a High Court Master that I can readily be identified as the person defamed in the article by Mr Levin which your company has published. It will be for Mr Levin to offer alternative solutions, but they are unlikely to satisfy the court given the depth and persistence of his ongoing attack on my reputation.
Even if the article had negligently used words which may be held to identify me as the person defamed, it would of course be no defence in law; your author and your newspaper have every possible reason to know that I am likely to be so identified.
I therefore call upon your author and The Times to make amends by publishing an immediate retraction of the defamation at the earliest possible opportunity, in terms to be agreed between us, and an apology also in terms to be agreed between us and to inform me of your intention to do so before the end of business on Friday October 18. Meanwhile I shall reserve all my legal rights in this matter.
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