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London Jewish News

January 28, 2000


'Convenient timing' of Irving libel trial



THE Wiesenthal Centre's European director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, has claimed that revisionist historian David Irving's libel trial against Penguin Books was "convenient timing" following the German Government's requests for extradition last year.

Irving's pending extradition request was issued in August last year with his libel suit being brought in September [*].

Dr. Samuels has sent a letter to the German Federal justice minister Dr. Herta Daubler-Gmelin reminding him both of the extradition order and of the indictment against him for incitement to hatred in Baden-Wurttemburg in 1996.

Dr. Samuels, who was in London last week to attend the Irving trial, said: "It is essential not to exaggerate the importance of this trial but it doesn't change history. The case must run its course but Irving's civil suit is nothing to do with his criminal action and should in no way be permitted to provide him with immunity from German justice."

Irving is suing American academic Deborah Lipstadt over claims he is a "Holocaust denier" made in her 1994 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth And Memory.

Dr. Samuels said: "Irving, via the courtroom, seeks the status of victim that he denies the Holocaust survivors. It's clearly a pathetic individual but he doesn't deserve one iota of pity."

He continued: "The man is certainly digging his own grave as an academic and, notably, his retinue are in extremist elements not academic circles. I was able to identify some in court."

Dr. Samuels believes the type of precedent law that has already been set in America for such a case should have weight in Britain.

"In Los Angeles, a case was fought in 1979 - despite first amendment rights for freedom of speech - against the Institute of Historical Review - whose purpose is to deny Holocaust events. At the time, the organisation was offering $50,000 to prove the existence of the gas chambers. Jewish people decided not to involve themselves because it would be like talking to the Flat Earth Society. However, one survivor did come forward to claim the prize and the institute promptly pulled out. He sued them for mental anguish and won; such cases should be taken into account."[**]

Dr. Samuels also emphasised the importance of defending the case against Irving.

He said: "It is an important statement to win the case as it is part of an evolving jurisprudence. Britain has been retrograde in introducing Holocaust denial legislation, Labour were proposing to do this prior to the election but it was dropped after the election. The UK needs to show it does not admit apologetics for genocide."

The trial continues.

London (UK), January 28, 2000

Notes by this Website:

* The writ in Queens Bench case D J C Irvng vs Penguin Books Ltd and Deborah Lipstadt was served in September -- 1996.

** The reference is to the Mel Mermelstein action. Mr Mermelstein was a Holocaust survivor living in California who traded on his tragic past. Like Professor Lipstadt's lawyers, newspapers appear however not to know of the final round of the Mermelstein/IHR litigation, in which Mermelstein's claim was thrown out by a US District Court judge.

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