London, Wednesday, March 15, 2000
Historian Irving is branded "a rabid anti- semite"
AUTHOR and historian David Irving was branded "a Rightwing extremist, a racist and a rabid anti-semite" in the High Court today.
He was said to have "prostituted" his reputation as a serious historian with his "ludicrous" and "absurd" and "shocking falsification of history" and denial of the mass murder of Jews.
The 62-year-old father of four came under attack at the end of a two-month libel trial. In an action that has daily packed the court to overflowing and cost an estimated £2 million, Mr Irving seeks damages over allegations in the book Denying The Holocaust, which he says have made him an "outcast from society".
He is suing publisher Penguin Books and author Deborah Lipstadt, who claimed he was one of the most dangerous spokesmen for Holocaust denial.
In his final submissions to Mr Justice Gray, who has heard the action without a jury, their counsel Richard Rampton QC said: "Mr Irving has repeatedly falsified history in pursuit of his obsessive desire to exonerate Hitler of responsibility for the Nazi persecution of the Jews, and, in particular, of responsibility for the Holocaust.
"He has repeatedly denied the Holocaust, without any historical foundation, and in the face or overwhelming evidence that the Holocaust took place on the scale generally described by reputable historians."
Mr Rampton said he had made the "astonishing" claim that Hitler was innocent of persecution of the Jews and of their mass murder and was in fact "the best friend the Jews ever had in the Third Reich".
He said: "Mr Irving is a Hitler partisan, who has falsified history on a staggering scale in order to 'prove' Hitler's innocence which, like Holocaust denial, is obviously very appealing to his fellow travellers.
"After all, if the Holocaust were a 'myth' then, obviously, Hitler could have had no responsibility for it. How far, if at all, Mr Irving's anti-semitism is a cause of his Hitler apology, or vice-versa, is unimportant.
"Whether they are taken together or individually it is clear that they have led him to prostitute his reputation as a serious historian, spurious though it can now be seen to have been, for the sake of a bogus rehabilitation of Hitler and the dissemination of virulent anti-semitic propaganda."
He said Mr Irving was seeking aggravated damages and an injunction against the publisher and author and the trial had taken place "because they decided to defend their right to publish the truth".
Mr Rampton said if the allegations against Mr Irving were untrue he would be entitled to a large sum of money. But the evidence before the court proved the accusations "are true in every significant respect". Mr Irving, author of some 30 books, including those on Hitler and the Third Reich, has represented himself throughout the trial. He has denied deliberate misrepresentation, manipulation or distortion of the facts.
In his final speech, Mr Irving, of Duke Street, Westminster, claimed the book was full of "reckless lies" and was a "malicious and deeply flawed work". He said that Penguin continued to publish it and hoped to "cash in on the notoriety of these libel proceedings".
Mr Irving said while he may have had occasional lapses of taste in his speeches and made some mistakes, it did not invalidate him as a historian.
He claimed he was entitled to damages after being brought into hatred, ridicule and contempt by the book.
The judge is expected to give his decision in the action early next month.
London, March 15, 2000