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Posted Friday, July 30, 2004

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Christchurch, NZ, Saturday, July 31, 2004

Holocaust denier kept out of NZ


THE Immigration Service will bar controversial Holocaust revisionist historian David Irving from entering New Zealand following an outcry from Jewish groups. The Immigration Service decided yesterday to refuse Irving entry because of his deportation from Canada in 1992. The decision goes against the opinion of Foreign Minister Phil Goff, right, who said earlier he personally did not believe Irving should be denied entry unless he had serious criminal convictions. "In terms of people expressing views that I vehemently oppose, no, that's a part of a democracy," Goff said.

Irving, branded by his critics as anti-Semitic and a Holocaust denier, has been planning a two-week tour of New Zealand including a highly publicised speech at the National Press Club in Wellington. His plans have caused an uproar in the Jewish community, which has called on the Government to intervene and ban Irving from entering the country.

But it appears such intervention will not be necessary. A spokeswoman for the Immigration Service, Kathryn O'Sullivan, told The Press yesterday that after reviewing the case the service had decided that Irving would not be allowed to enter New Zealand even though he holds a British passport.

"Mr Irving is not permitted to enter New Zealand under the Immigration Act because people who have been deported from another country are refused entry," O'Sullivan said. "The law doesn't take into account why people have been deported but only the fact that they have been. "At the moment if he tried to board the plane we've got a new system called advanced passenger screening which would detect him when he checked in for his flight."

David bZwartzJewish Council president David Zwartz said he was relieved to hear of the NZIS decision. "I think it is good that the law is being adhered to." Irving's visit would have caused the Jewish community unnecessary grief, Zwartz said. "Irving's views are offensive and unpleasant to us. We don't need someone here who is propounding very vigorously anti-Jewish views."

Irving was to speak about Hitler and Winston Churchill under the heading "The problems of writing about World War 2 in a free society". He had promised not to talk about the Holocaust, saying on his website that he was not an expert on the subject.

Irving spoke in New Zealand twice during the 1980s and has no serious criminal convictions. But he was convicted of violating a German law making it illegal to deny the existence of the Nazi extermination of Jews and has been deported from Canada. He has also been banned from entering the United States, Italy, South Africa, and, since 1992, Australia, despite fighting four legal battles against the ban.

The NZIS's decision saves the Government from having to make a difficult political call on whether to admit Irving. Speaking to The Press before he was aware of the decision, Goff said:

"I have absolutely no time for Irving as a pseudo-historian, but I am not about to advocate censorship of people's attitudes.

"At one stage we wouldn't let Mandy Rice Davis into New Zealand and now we laugh at that, and rightly so. There are all sorts of people that will come to this country with views that I strongly disagree with but one should always be reluctant to censor the expression of opinion that we don't like."

Green MP Keith Locke said last night the NZIS decision was a blow to free speech. "His deportation from Canada is irrelevant, unless we have just become a Canadian colony. What next: are we going to ban Salman Rushdie because Iran doesn't like him?"

Irving's only hope is to apply for a special direction from NZIS but O'Sullivan said these were usually granted only on humanitarian grounds. No such application had been made by Irving to date.

Irving, who lost his London home to bankruptcy after losing a libel case he took against Penguin Books for calling him a Holocaust denier, could not be contacted last night. But on his website Irving says he will travel to New Zealand despite demands from "the usual bigots" that his visit be stopped.

Irving says those trying to stop him entering New Zealand are "enemies of the truth" and that local Jewish organisations are members of the US-based Jewish organisation the Anti-Defamation League. Irving says he has followed recent events in New Zealand regarding Israel, and comments: "Prime Minister Helen Clark seems to have balls."



Dossier: attempts by New Zealand Jews to stop David Irving's 2004 visit

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