London, Wednesday, April 19, 2000
Mark Bateman of Davenport Lyons, who acted for Penguin Books Ltd., a lawyer whose assistance during the recent trial I confess I found very helpful, now writes a high falutin article (The Times, Law section, April 18) justifying the £2m costs that Penguin incurred defending my libel action. Had Penguin Books bothered to have the book read for libel they could have avoided the action altogether. Mr Bateman also knows very well that on September 11, 1998 [see next panel] I privately offered to Penguin to separate them from the action if they paid £500 to a charity for the limbless, an offer which they invited me to repeat in writing. Had they accepted it, and had I won against the author Prof. Lipstadt, I would of course have had no prospect of recovering costs and damages from the remaining defendant, a US citizen living outside the jurisdiction. In August 1999 I repeated the same offer to both defendants. His crocodile tears may impress the shareholders, but not me.
The letter to Davenport Lyons dated September 11, 1998 read:
Irving vs. Penguin and Lipstadt: Denying the Holocaust
This action has now been progressing for two years. Today as you will know there was a lengthy hearing before Master Trench, and I spoke with a representative of your firm. It is quite apparent to me that your client does not share the bitter hostility of Ms Lipstadt and Mr Julius. I would be willing to settle with Penguin separately quite independently of Ms Lipstadt on the following terms:-
Your clients would write me an open letter withdrawing the allegations made in the book by Deborah Lipstadt entitled Denying the Holocaust on their account, though I appreciate they cannot do so on the author's account.
Your clients would undertake not to re-publish these allegations and would further undertake to use all reasonable endeavours to withdraw the work from sale in the jurisdiction and destroy all remaining copies. I would further ask your client as a token of apology to pay the sum of £500 to the British Limbless ex-Servicemen's Association in the name of my daughter (who lost her legs). If your clients would agree to such a settlement I would suggest that there should be no order as to costs between us. I further propose that it would be in the interests of myself and your clients that the terms of any settlement should be kept confidential and not disclosed to the First Defendant or her solicitors.
For the avoidance of any possible doubt as to the position between myself and Ms Lipstadt the terms of this settlement would have to be put into Tomlin form specifically reserving my right to continue the action against Ms Lipstadt. While these are the terms on which I would be prepared to settle with your client I do reserve the right to comment in some detail on the precise form of the Tomlin order because I do not intend to settle with Ms Lipstadt.
Note added Sunday, November 3, 2002: In a hearing before Peter Smith J on May 21, 2002, Penguin Books were forced to confess in a sworn statement that they had not paid a penny of their costs; the entire sums had been paid by their insurers, Commercial Union, direct to Mr Bateman's law firm as he must have known.