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From the memoirs of David Irving

From the David Irving unpublished memoirs. Written in Vienna prison, 2006. Posted here Friday, July 8, 2011


David Irivng memoirs1983

The Guardian apologises with bad grace (extract)


UNLIKE most national newspapers, I have been sued for libel only once in fifty years. That was the Convoy PQ.17 action in 1970. I have been libelled more often than I can count, and after a while I began to fight back. On the evening of that riotous Saturday afternoon [October 8, 1983: see photos] at the Haus am See outside Cologne, I received an urgent phone call from my private secretary Robin Davies in London offering his resignation. "The Daily Mail is going to be printing something tomorrow," he explained darkly. I told him to wait, and to set out the whole story in Churchillian fashion on one side of a sheet of paper, and have it on my desk when I returned to London the next day.

After I read it, I sent it straight over to Special Branch at Scotland Yard as being of possible interest to them, but none to myself. He had rather awkwardly confessed that he shared digs with Roberto F., a young Italian entrepreneur, a political refugee who had upset the hard left in Italy and the rather more woolly-minded Left in England. They had accused him of complicity in the unsolved bombing of the railway station at Bologna, Italy, and Italy had once demanded his extradition to face trial. The evidence against him was non-existent, and the London magistrate refused to send him home. The charge has long since been dropped. Now he and Robin were sharing digs in Eccleston Square, Pimlico. Robin realised that the malevolent U.K. journaille would tie this around my neck like a stone, hence his offer to resign and melt away. I refused the offer and turned to other things.

It was not long before Alan Rusbridger, a Guardian columnist, ran the story. It was a gratuitous smear. It linked Robin Davies, terrorists, Adolf Hitler, terrorist bombings, and myself in an unhelpful manner which must have had his libel lawyers hopping from one leg to the other, wincing, and wringing their hands.

Had Rusbridger known that as soon as Davies gave me word of his ménage à deux arrangements I passed it on to the proper authorities, his lawyers would have shrieked at him to spike the story, indeed to burn it and eat the ashes. Too late, it was out there now, and in print. He had made no attempt to inquire of me. I instructed David Hooper, the well-known libel lawyer at Peter Carter-Ruck, to ask The Guardian to make an immediate withdrawal and the usual apology. I did not ask for damages but I did have the upper hand.

Rather oddly, after a few days Hooper urged me not to press the matter to the hilt: "I've been talking to my friends at The Guardian," he said, "and one thing is clear: they are never, ever, going to publish an apology to you." He emphasised the last word.

His "friends"? That did it. I drafted the terms of an apology and withdrawal and I instructed Hooper to give them forty-eight hours to publish, failing which I would personally issue the writ. I was not joking. The Guardian complied, though with bad grace. Under pressure, and again against Hooper's advice that I should not press the matter, they paid all legal costs too, amounting already to several thousand pounds.

It was only a skirmish and it probably did more harm than good, as The Guardian were poor losers; though undoubtedly in the wrong, they slavered ever after, just like a worsted schoolyard bully, for a chance of revenge.


© 2011 Copyright David Irving / Focal Point Publications


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