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 The Times


 London, Saturday, May 6, 2000

May 6 2000 BRITAIN

Irving facing bankruptcy over legal fees



DAVID IRVING, the historian who lost his libel case against Penguin Books last month, was facing bankruptcy yesterday after being ordered to pay £150,000 as a first instalment towards his defence costs. Mr Justice Gray, who heard the 32-day action he brought over claims that he was a Holocaust denier, in the High Court in London earlier this year said the interim sum must be paid by June 17. If Mr Irving fails to find the funds, Penguin Books, which published the title at the centre of the case -- Professor Deborah Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory -- can issue a petition for Mr Irving's bankruptcy.

Heather Rogers, Penguin's counsel, had initially asked for a sum of £500,000, but Mr Irving's counsel, Adrian Davies, had argued that £250,000 could be enough to bankrupt his client. Mr Irving, 62, did not stay in court long enough yesterday to hear the decision, which follows last month's ruling. He did not need to: this time he had chosen not to represent himself. Instead he sat behind his counsel, looking hot and bothered and occasionally barking details into Mr Davies's ear.

His counsel began by asking Mr Justice Gray that the approach to the issue of costs be based on "broad principles" and "not imposed as a punishment to the claimant or bonus to the defendants".



Miss Rogers, who is pursuing a total costs bill estimated at over £2 million, told the judge that more than £1 million had already been paid out to experts for the defence.

Van Pelt

"Expert" Van Pelt received £125,000

Miss Rogers, who is pursuing a total costs bill estimated at over £2 million, told the judge that more than £1 million had already been paid out to experts for the defence. She said that defence counsel fees amounted to £400,000 while the defence solicitors had not yet produced their own bill of costs.

Mr Irving, who still intends to pursue an appeal to last month's judgment, although he has yet to obtain permission to do so, argues that both defence experts and counsel were paid too much.

Miss Rogers said that there was no evidence before the court about the state of Mr Irving's means or of his fighting fund, which he said had attracted many supporters around the world. The court, she added, should be "very slow to conclude" that he could not pay. Penguin's claim, she said, was not one of need but of entitlement.

Mr Justice Gray said that it was right that he should make an order for payment of some costs on account and he was not persuaded that the proposed figure was too high. The £150,000 order was made on the basis that Miss Rogers's clients were prepared for the time being to accept that figure -- although they reserved the right to come back to court if the appeal did not go ahead.

Mr Irving was also made to pay an additional £750, Miss Rogers's costs for yesterday's proceedings. Kevin Bays, a partner of Davenport Lyons which represents Penguin, said later: "We think that they will be ordered pay a large further sum, which will be a large proportion of the £2 million costs incurred." Mr Bays estimated that figure would be in the region of £1.5 million.

"On one hand he says he hasn't got any money, on the other hand he is reported as saying he has 5,000 people around the world donating money to him," Mr Bays said.

"He is inconsistent . . . we will find out what he has."

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Saturday, May 6, 2000
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