Institute for Jewish Policy
Combating Holocaust Denial through Law in the United Kingdom
Report No. 3, 2000
This report was completed within a few weeks of the judgment in what has become known as the 'Holocaust denial trial'. The denier David Irving had sued the historian Deborah Lipstadt, complaining that she had defamed him in her book Denying the Holocaust. He said that her description of him as an antisemite[*], a Hitler partisan and a bogus historian (I summarize) was libellous.
After the trial, which lasted just over two months and during which a number of historians gave expert evidence against Irving, the judge concluded that Professor Lipstadt was right. In a judgment that runs to over 300 pages, Mr Justice Gray rejected every single aspect of Irving's case for denial.
The deniers themselves are thinking fast to discredit the judgment. Their websites are thick with excuses and explanations: Irving was not given a fair trial; the judge was an 'establishment figure'; oppressive tactics brought the doughty Irving down. Deniers cannot be convinced of either the wickedness or the idiocy of their cause. For them, the Jews are devils who have bewitched the world; and they, the deniers, are the white magicians who can lift the spell. This is about as close as deniers get to a reasoned defence of denial. It is fanciful, inconsequential stuff, pernicious only if taken seriously. Irving and other antisemites take it seriously. The question is whether anyone else does, or is likely to.
The conclusion that the Law Panel reached in the following report is that the present risk that Holocaust deniers pose can best be dealt with by education. Existing race hate laws, if appropriately modified, together with a drive to raise public awareness of the nature of the Holocaust is sufficient to deal with the threat that the deniers pose. They are small, benighted people. Their work does not represent a challenge to historians. They are few in number, and that number is not growing. The response to denial should be proportionate to its menace.
This report is the outcome of lengthy deliberations by the members of the JPR Law Panel as well as an extensive consultation process involving many experts. It is therefore the work of many hands whose contribution I would like to acknowledge.
First of all, I would like to thank my fellow members of the JPR Law Panel, who gave generously of their time and expertise, and all those who made submissions to the Panel, whose names are listed in the appendix.
My gratitude goes also to: Jessica Jacobson for drafting the text of the report; Antony Lerman[*] for his guidance; Jacqueline Sallon for overseeing the work of the JPR Law Panel in the first eighteen months of its existence, and for organizing the Inquiry Day together with Lena Stanley-Clamp, who also saw the report through its final stages; Adrian Marshall-Williams for undertaking additional research; and Karen Rosen and Mark Sellman who helped with the writing of minutes and the compilation of documentation.
It has been a privilege to chair this panel and I commend this report.
Anthony Julius (right)
Friday, June 23, 2000
Website fact: The stamina of the defence team in the Lipstadt libel action was aided by a six million dollar slushfund provided by Steven Spielberg, Edgar J Bronfman, and the American Jewish Committee, which enabled them to pay 21 lawyers and "experts". A million pound lollipop was figuratively brandished from the defence lawyers' table throughout the trial, and all those who behaved got a lick at it; their experts like the "scholars" Prof. Evans, Prof. Longerich and others were paid up to £125,000 each (on top of the academic salaries they continued to draw) to testify as they did. Nobody was paying for Mr Irving. His defence witnesses testified without payment, from conviction. [Help!]