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The Independent
London, Friday, April 25, 2008

David IrvingLegal victory for B&B owner who evicted Irving for being too moody

By Cahal Milmo and Aline Nassif

In his long history of legal calamity, David Irving has confronted and lost to courtroom adversaries from the publisher Penguin, to a British Second World War convoy commander, to the Austrian state. To that list can now be added Jennie Allen, the 60-year-old owner of a B&B in the genteel London suburb of Kew.

Amid claim and counter-claim about boorish behaviour and an eviction made with the help of two police officers, the 69-year-old writer, who was famously described by a High Court judge in 2000 as an "active Holocaust denier... anti-Semitic and racist", went to Wandsworth County Court this week to claim that Mrs Allen had wrongly asked him to leave her premises [on July 4, 2007] while he was researching his latest tome.

But in a pattern which must be becoming grimly familiar to the much-criticised historian, the judge dismissed his claim for £2,000 in damages for breach of contract after finding that diverging interpretations by Mr Irving and his landlady of her terms and conditions meant she had been within her rights to ask him to leave. He was ordered to pay Mrs Allen £60 towards her costs and her bus fare to the court.
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David Irving comments:

LOSING two libel actions, one as plaintiff, the other as defendant, in thirty years is not a bad record for a cutting-edge historian, I suppose.
   What journalists do not learn of, unfortunately, are the legal actions I have won, because the final settlement -- known oddly as a Tomlin Order -- imposes a gag on both parties.
   When journalists mention the political imprisonment in Austria, hoping to get mileage out of that, I retort: "If you were a reader, which historian would you be more inclined to trust: the Andrew Roberts type, who conforms seamlessly with established history; or the historian whom foreign governments imprison for the history he writes?"
   A well-written article, all the same, and fair too -- although I note that Cahal Milmo decides not to mention that the dragon lady's hollow "victory" cost her over £5,000 in legal costs -- to the judge's (and my) surprise, she came to court armed to the teeth with solicitor and barrister. Rather like Deborah Lipstadt, whose Pyrrhic "victory" in the High Court ultimately cost her, her publisher Penguin Books, and her Hollywood friends $13 million.

Mr Irving, who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment by an Austrian judge in 2006 for remarks he made in 1989 claiming there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz (views he has now revised), had booked a two-week stay last July at Mrs Allen's bed and breakfast, Melbury, so he could visit the nearby National Archives in Kew, used by thousands of academics every year to study government documents.

But, within four days of his arrival at the £300-a-week guest house, relations between the researcher and his host, who has been running B&Bs for 35 years, had deteriorated dramatically.

Mrs Allen declined to comment in detail on the case when contacted yesterday but said she was pleased that the court had found in her favour.

She said: "Mr Irving's behaviour was such that I considered it upsetting for myself and my guests. I asked him to leave and he said he would sue me for breach of contract. I won the case because the judge determined there had been no contract between us. I'm delighted to have won."

Court documents seen by The Independent show that Mrs Allen believed Mr Irving was unjustifiably moody throughout his stay, unsettling her other guests and behaving rudely towards her. In her statement to the court, she alleged that the scholar said "get out of my sight you evil witch" during a row over his conduct.

Mr Irving "strenuously denied" making the remark or being guilty of any "abusive or intimidating behaviour" towards the other guests at Melbury. He said in his statement of claim to the court that he had only two brief conversations with those in the B&B and spent most of the time in his room or at the National Archives.

The saga came to a head on 4 July last year when Mrs Allen said that, after repeated refusals by Mr Irving to accept her request to leave, she was forced to call police to ask him to end his stay. The historian claimed his landlady only cooled towards him after her solicitor sent her a copy of his Wikipedia entry detailing his views and controversies. Mrs Allen, who emphasised she has never before clashed with a guest and has a long list of repeat visitors to her B&B, denied the claim.

A desk and chair were availableIn his statement, Mr Irving said he agreed to leave within two hours of the arrival of the two officers, packing his belongings shortly after 5pm. He added: "I remarked in a conversational tone that no doubt we would next meet in court."

At the hearing this week, Mr Irving was told his claim for breach of contract was invalid because both he and Mrs Allen held diverging views of a clause in her terms and conditions which guaranteed a guest's stay for one night only. The landlady argued this meant she was entitled to ask a guest to leave after a single night.

The historian was sanguine about his latest legal setback. "The judge found there was no case to answer," he said. "But I very strongly reject the suggestion that I behaved obnoxiously."

Landlady from Hell supervises an evictionMr Irving was once a respected authority on Nazi Germany until he made clear views on the Holocaust which led to his defeat in an 1996 libel case against the author Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher Penguin. His £1million Mayfair flat was seized to meet the costs awarded against him from the case.

The writer lost his first libel case in 1970 when the commander of a British convoy claimed Mr Irving unfairly blamed him for its heavy losses. He most recently hit headlines when he sought to address the Oxford Union with the BNP leader, Nick Griffin.

He is hoping to change his luck with two other lawsuits surrounding the aftermath of the 1996 libel trial. In the meantime, he is working on an autobiography, entitled As I Lay There Drowning.

Photos above: The landlady claimed she had provided a writing desk and chair for the 6-foot 2, 238-pound historian. Grinning, she personally supervised the eviction. She was not grinning when she left court.


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David Irving's witness statement in the action
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