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 Posted Saturday, July 21, 2001

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Saturday, July 21, 2001

National news

Irving's tag as 'Holocaust denier' upheld

David Pallister


The discredited historian of the Third Reich, David Irving, may face bankruptcy after the court of appeal yesterday rejected his application to appeal against a libel trial ruling branding him a racist Holocaust denier who deliberately distorted historical facts.

IrvingHe faces a final legal bill of more than £2m. Yesterday the court agreed that he could be asked immediately for an interim payment of £150,000. Richard Rampton QC, counsel for Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, whose book, Denying the Holocaust, led to the case, said: "There lurks the real possibility of the need to take bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Irving."

He was not in court when the judgment -- a ringing endorsement of the conclusions reached by Mr Justice Gray at the libel trial last year -- was handed down by Lord Justice Pill with Lord Justice Mantell and Lord Justice Buxton. Mr Irving was "somewhere in a van on the south coast" trying to sell his latest book, Churchill's War, to book-shops, said his lawyers.

After Mr Justice Gray's devastating judgment that he was an apologist for Hitler, Mr Irving has been unable to find a mainstream distributor for the book, which he has published under his own imprint, Focal Point Press, with finance from American investors.

Mark Bateman, solicitor for Penguin, said: "[Today's ruling] is a very predictable outcome. It is a shame we have been dragged through the court of appeal when there was really no issue in Mr Justice Gray's judgment -- his judgment was sound."

Lord Justice Pill said that the trial judge was right to conclude Irving "may be described as a Holocaust denier". He went on: "We acknowledge he has over the years modified, and in some respects, significantly modified, his views upon some of the relevant events.

"However, the respondents were justified in describing him as 'one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial' having regard to the views he has expressed and in some respects persisted in, and the manner and force with which he has expressed them.

"The use of the word 'dangerous' was justified by reason of his historiographical methods considered by the judge and in this judgment."

Last month Irving's counsel, Adrian Davies, had argued before the court that Mr Justice Gray's conclusions were wrong and unjust and that Irving had come to reasonable conclusions in his books based on the available evidence.

Lord Justice Pill said: "Mr Davies has not persuaded us that it is arguable that the judge's general conclusions were unjustified."

On the trial's central question of Auschwitz, said Lord Justice Pill, Mr Irving argued that the evidence for mass gassing at the camp was nowhere near so strong that it was perverse for him to entertain doubts about it. Mr Irving's view was that there were no gassings at Auschwitz and only random gassings at Auschwitz II, and had submitted there were good grounds for scepticism as to what had happened at Auschwitz.

LipstadtLord Justice Pill said that having considered the evidence, they considered Mr Justice Gray "fully entitled" to reach his conclusion that "no objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz, and that they were operated on a substantial scale to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews".

Professor Lipstadt (left) said she was gratified by the ruling: "I hope Mr Irving's six year battle against my attempt to tell the truth about him will end.] do not delude myself that, though my battle with Mr Irving may be over, the fight against those who will pervert the historical record for their own political and ideological goals has ended. That battle will continue for as long as history is written. Those of us writing history and those of us who care about truth and memory will have to be ever ready to stand against them?"


Special report on tho Irving case at

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