International Campaign for Real History

In the High Court of Justice

DJC Irving

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Penguin Books Ltd and Deborah Lipstadt

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In 1993 American scholar Deborah Lipstadt published Denying the Holocaust, product of a research contract funded by an Israeli agency.

British writer David Irving claims that it libels him.

Closing Speech by David Irving


THE DEFENDANTS in this action, the publishers Penguin Books Ltd and the American scholar Deborah Lipstadt, have sought to cast this trial as being about the reputation of the Holocaust. It is not.

The world's press have also reported it in this way. Again, it is not.

This trial is about my reputation as a human being, as an historian of integrity, and - thanks to the remarks made by Mr Rampton - as a father. The Defendants are saying, and have so convinced many people, that I am not entitled to continue to earn a living in the way that I have earned it for nearly forty years. A judgement in my favour is no more than a judgment that disputed points which I have made about some aspects of the narrative are not so absurd, given the evidence, as to disqualify me from the ranks of historians. Under the laws of defamation in this country, it could not be any thing else, and nor must the defence team, no matter how powerful, or moneyed, or eloquent, or numerous, be allowed by their tactics to skew it in any other way.

I may add that the points I have made do not necessarily ,lessen the horror or the burden of guilt. I always have accepted that Adolf Hitler, as head of state and government, was responsible for the Holocaust. I said, in the Introduction to my flagship biography, HITLER'S WAR:

If this biography were simply a history of the rise and fall of Hitler's Reich, it would be legitimate to conclude: "Hitler killed the Jews".1 But my years of investigation suggested that many others were responsible, that the chain of responsibility was not as clear cut as that. Nothing that I have heard in this Court since January 11 has persuaded me that I was wrong on this account.

These latter points lead to another consideration. Your Lordship will have heard of the - largely successful - effort to drive me out of business as a historian. This Court has seen the timidity with which historians have already been fraught once the Holocaust is questioned: one notable historian, ordered by summons to attend, showed himself reluctant even to confirm what he had written in my favour, repeatedly, over the last twenty years. A judgment rendered against me will make this paralysis in the writing of history definitive; from then on, no-one will dare to discuss who exactly was involved in each stage of the Holocaust, or how extensive it was. From then, on discussion will revolve around "safe" subjects - sacred texts in the Middle Ages, or Marx in the old USSR, or the Koran in a fundamentalist state today. Every historian will know that his critique needs to stop sharply at boundaries defined by certain authorities. He will have a choice: accept the official version, holus-bolus ; or stop being a historian.

A judgment in my favour does not mean that the Holocaust never happened; it means only that in England today discussion is still permitted. My opponents would still be able, just as now, to produce other documents if they can; to expound alternative interpretations. They would be as free as ever to declare that they think I am wrong. They would be impeded in one way only: they would not be able to say in a loud and authoritative voice that I am not a historian, and that my books must be banned. As a result of my work (and of this case) the holocaust has been researched more. Those who (rightly) believe that these crimes should never be forgotten should ask whether their case is batter served by a compulsory - and dead - text imposed by law and intimidation, or by a live and on-going discussion.

Our Common Law has at its kernel an "adversarial" procedure whereby, it is believed, truth is best elicited by each side putting their case as strongly as possible. I agree with English Common Law.



I read in The Independent, in a lengthy and deeply libellous article published only last week, these words: "But if he wins, it will open the door for revisionists to rewrite any event in history without the requirement to consider evidence that does not suit them and without fear that they will be publicly denounced for their distortion."2

In bygone days, I venture to submit, such an article, published while an action was literally sub judice, would have been a clear contempt of Court. Your Lordship will have noticed that I wearied, after a few days, of drawing attention to the coverage of this trial. Allow me however to introduce one cautionary statistic: not including the fuss about the Eichmann manuscript, the British press have published no fewer than 167 reports during the seven days that I was on the witness stand, that is 24 per day; but just fifty-eight reports during the twenty days when the boot was on the other foot and I was cross-examining Mr Rampton's witnesses, that is roughly three per day. That is a disparity of some eight to one against me. If Your Lordship has noticed any of these items, you will perhaps have observed that the reporting in both cases is almost exclusively devoted to the defence statements, or their questions to me, and not to the product of the examination. The Court however operates by different standards, and it will not allow public sentiment to guide its verdict. I believe it was Churchill who once said, "There is no such thing as public opinion, there is only published opinion." Given such a baleful glare from the press gallery, My Lord, I am glad that Her Majesty has such a resolute officer presiding over this case. The outcome is in your hands, and yours alone, and I am confident that nothing that the Press has written, or may yet write, will deflect Your Lordship from arriving at a just conclusion.



* * *



The Defendants have sold around the world a book, Denying the Holocaust. May I say that I see here Penguin Books Ltd to my sorrow, as they have published my own works in the past; but they are continuing even today to sell this book for profit, in the knowledge that it contains very defamatory allegations and that these allegations are held to be untrue. It is a reckless, even foolhardy posture.

Neither of these Defendants evidently bothered even to have the manuscript professionally read for libel. I say "evidently," because we do not know: they have not deigned to enter the witness box to answer even that straightforward and most elementary of questions. Nor have they answered this question when it was put to them in writing. Such a report is, in my submission, not privileged, and I would have been well prepared to argue the point; had they claimed that privilege, I should have asked, "On what grounds?" If a report was written, it should and no doubt would have been disclosed. It was not. We are entitled to assume they did not bother to have the book "read", therefore. So it does not exist.

Whatever other limited excuses - whether of sheer ignorance, or of innocent dissemination - that the publisher might have (quite wrongfully) deployed for publishing this malicious and deeply flawed work were destroyed from the moment when they received my writ in September of 1996, and were thus informed, if they did not in fact know already, of the nature and scope of the libels it contains. And, as said, they have continued to sell it, hoping no doubt to cash in on, to profit from, the notoriety gained by these libel proceedings, a textbook case of Rookes vs. Barnard if ever there was one, since the book they are selling still contains even the several libels which they have made no attempt here to justify. They have to justify their allegations, or their defence fails; and as your Lordship is aware, where the defamations are particularly grave, a higher burden of proof falls upon them than the mere balance of probabilities that is normally acceptable. In both Defendants, moreover, there is clear evidence of malice, both in those few documents which the author of this work has disclosed, and in the fact that the same firm of publishers had previously distributed a work in which I was variously caricatured as Adolf Hitler, and wearing swastika eye-glasses.

The very worst of the libels are so blatant, that neither Defendant has insulted the intelligence of this Court by offering any justification for them. They hope instead to divert the court's attention by reference to distant and notorious matters of history. In consequence, for thirty days or more of this Court's time we have had to rake over the embers of what may be one of the greatest crimes known to Mankind: a harrowing, time-wasting, and needless effort, which has yielded even now few answers to great questions and mysteries which even the world's finest academics have so far not managed to unravel.

On page 14 of the book, the Defendants published one of the gravest libels that can be imagined for a respectable English citizen who lives a very public life, namely that I consort with the extremist anti-Semitic Russian group Pamyat, with violent anti-Israeli murderers , with extremist terrorists, and with Louis Farrakhan, a Black Power agitator who is known to be acting in the pay of a foreign power, namely the Libyan dictator. This is not just the simple allegation of associating with "extremists", about which they have made so much. The words on page 14 are as follows - and I make no apology for reminding the Court of them:


"The confluence between anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, and Holocaust denial forces was exemplified by a world anti-Zionist conference scheduled for Sweden in November 1992. Though cancelled at the last minute by the Swedish government, scheduled speakers included black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan, Faurisson, Irving and Leuchter. Also scheduled to participate were representatives of a variety of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel organisations, including the Russian group Pamyat, the Iranian-backed Hizbollah, and the fundamentalist Islamic organisation Hamas. "3


The whole statement was a reckless lie. It appears from their Discovery to have been based on a press release issued by the Jewish Telegraph Agency, which neither that agency or the Defendants made any attempt to verify. The Court will have noticed in one of my bundles the letters which I sent to every Scandinavian embassy at the time, anxiously denying the malicious JTA allegation. I have pleaded, as Your Lordship is aware4, that the innuendo was that I was


"thereby agreeing to appear in public in support of and alongside violent and extremist speakers including representatives of the violent and extremist anti-Semitic Russian group Pamyat and of the Iranian-backed Hizbollah and of the fundamentalist Islamic organisation Hamas and including the black Muslim minister Louis Farrakhan, born Louis Eugene Walcott, who is known as a Jew-baiting black agitator, as a leader of the U.S. Nation of Islam, as an admirer of Hitler and who is in the pay of Colonel Muammar GaddaÞ."



"that the true or legal innuendo of the word "Hizbollah" is that used to refer to and describe a known international terrorist organisation led by one Sayed Hassan Nasrallah from Beirut in the Lebanon also known as the Hizbollah whose guerrillas kill Israeli civilians and soldiers thereby deliberately provoking retaliation, and which organisation has been determined by President Clinton, at the international anti-terrorism conference in 1996, as being among the enemies of peace, and whose ofÞcials and armed activists are now being hunted down by . . . the Israeli army."5


As for the Hamas, I set out in para 12 of my statement of claim that "the true or legal innuendo of the words "Hamas" is that of an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organisation similar in nature to the Hizbollah."

I submitted to Your Lordship at the outset of this trial a representative selection of news reports from reliable outlets, including the BBC, on the murderous nature of the organisations concerned.

In my pleadings, I also (paragraph 8) argued that by these allegations I had "been brought into hatred, ridicule, contempt, risk of personal injury, and/or assassination". The nature of the libel, and the damage that it caused, hardly need arguing in detail here. To put it in a domestic context, if the Defendants had equally untruthfully stated, for example on a Channel 4 television documentary, that I consorted with Ulster loyalist death squads who were part of a conspiracy to murder Roman Catholic nationalists, itself a grave accusation which also would put me at risk of assassination, and if the Defendants made no attempt to justify that libel, then I respectfully submit that Your Lordship would have no hesitation giving judgment in my favour. I submit that there is no difference between these examples.


The Defendants have relied however on Section 5 of the Defamation Act. In other words, they accuse a respectable Englishman of consorting with terrorists and murderers, and then plead the relative insignificance of the accusation when it turns out to be a reckless lie. And there are other incendiary lies which they have stuffed into that particular sand-bucket, Section 5, in the hope that they will sputter out: the Defendants repeated the story - first published in Izvestia - that I placed a portrait of Hitler over my desk.6 For that lie too they have offered no justification. I read incidentally recently in Literary Review, January 2000, that Lloyd George had signed photographs of both Hitler and Mussolini on display.7 The only signed photograph in my apartment, as many journalists have observed, is one of Sir Winston Churchill.

I submit that Your Lordship should not accept the Defendants' contention that these allegations should be disregarded on the basis of Section 5. Even if they could sufficiently justify their claim that I deliberately bent history in favour of Hitler, and I submit that they have not, it would still "materially injure the plaintiff's reputation" (thus the wording of Section 5) to say that I had a portrait of Hitler above my desk. The claims which they do seek to justify suggest that I am culpably careless and (perhaps unconsciously) sympathetic to Hitler; bad enough, but having a portrait over my desk implies a full-hearted 100 percent conscious commitment to that man, which is very different.

I have provided to Your Lordship in one bundle a number of passages quoted from A J P Taylor's words. Taylor himself accepted that they inevitably improved Hitler's image: maybe he did not originate the actual mass murders himself; maybe he did slip into war with Britain rather than planning it; maybe the Anschluss with Austria was more a stroke of good fortune, which he grasped, rather than long planned as a take-over; maybe the Nazis did not burn down the Reichstag in 1933. These views of Taylor have been criticised as being wrong, even as being too sympathetic to Hitler. But everybody would accept that to suggest that Taylor had a portrait of Hitler "over his desk" would suggest something far worse. So it should be for me too.

Again, for the purpose of Section 5, the allegation that I bend history in favour of Hitler because I am said to admire him, and that I consort with other people holding such views, is a very different kettle of fish from stating, as the Defendants do, that I consort with people who are widely regard as violent and murderous terrorists. Indeed, the word used by the Defendants in the Hamas/Hizbollah/Pamyat context is "confluence", which suggests something even worse than "consort". The passage suggests that I provide support (maybe only theoretical support, but still support) for violence and murder - murder now and murder in the future. I ask therefore that Your Lordship not allow either of these matters to be discarded into section 5.



My Lord, the Court will be aware that from the very outset I argued that this hearing should not, effectively, leave the four walls of my study, where I wrote my books; and that what happened fifty or sixty years ago was of less moment to the issues as pleaded. The matter at issue, as pleaded by the Defendants, is not what happened, but what I knew of it, and what I made of it, at the time I put pen to paper. To take a crude example: neglecting to use the Eichmann memoirs, released to us only a few days ago, had they contained startling revelations -- which they did not -- could not have been held against me because they were not available to me in the 1960s, 70s or 80s.

Your Lordship took a different view, and I respectfully submit that it was wrong. The Defendants have invested a sizeable fortune in re-researching the Holocaust, and possibly for that reason alone we have all been dragged through that vast and inhuman tragedy yet again, and quite needlessly in my submission. It would have sufficed for their purposes if they could have proved, on the basis of the total disclosure of my files which I made to them and their experts, that I had indeed "distorted, misstated, misquoted, and falsified." Fearing or finding however that they were unable to prove wilful fraud, in effect, they have fallen back on the alternative plea in the tort of negligence: that "Mr Irving ought to have known." I respectfully submit that this unsubtle change of defence should not have been allowed to them, as it was not pleaded at the outset.

If my submission on the law is, however, wrong then Your Lordship must ask what effort would have been reasonable on the part of an individual historian, acting without institutional support like that of Yad Vashem, and with the doors of archives increasing being slammed against him because of the activities of the bodies to which I shall shortly refer. These Defendants have spent reportedly some six million dollars, and twenty man-years or more, in researching this case: this blinding and expensive spotlight has been focused on the narrowest of issues, yet still it has generated more noise than illumination. I heard the expert witnesses who were paraded before us use phrases like the "consensus of expert opinion" as their source so often - in fact the word consensus occurs so far no fewer than forty times in the daily transcripts of this trial - that I began to wonder what archives were for. I suggest that these experts were more expert in reporting each other's opinions and those of people who agree with them than in what the archives actually contain - and do not contain.

The phrase "Holocaust Denier", which the Second Defendant boasts of having invented, is an Orwellian stigma. It is not a very helpful phrase. It does not diminish or extend thought or knowledge on this tragic subject. Its universal adoption within the space of a few years by media, academia and government and even academics seems to indicate something of the international endeavour of which I shall make later mention. It is in my submission a key to the whole case. Perhaps this Court should raise its gaze from the red and blue files and bundles for a brief moment, and re-read George Orwell's brief appendix to "1984" which seems to be very relevant to this case.

From the witness box, with its revelations of the "consensus of opinion", "moral certainty," and the mass male-voice choir of the "social sciences" or "social scientists" on which the Defendants' German expert Professor Hajo Funke relies for his certainty as to what is right-wing extremism, we seem to hear more than a vague echo of Orwellian Newspeak - a language that moulds minds, and destroys reputations and livelihoods.

Orwell was however wrong in one point: he thought it would take the forces of the State to impose Newspeak: Professor Lipstadt and her reckless publishers Penguin Books Ltd - I shall justify that adjective shortly - have sought to impose it through the machinery of the literary and media establishments. Only the Royal Courts or Justice, independent and proud, can protect the rights of the individual from now on. And those rights include the right, as Lord Justice Sedley recently put it in another Court in this same building, of any person to hold to, and to preach, unpopular views, perhaps even views that many might find repellent.8