Professor Richard Evans' comments on David Irving
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REPORT to the Council of

The University of Canterbury

of the Working Party established to enquire into:

the circumstances under which the degree of Master of Arts (with First Class Honours) was awarded by the University in 1993 to Joel Stuart Andrew Hayward, on the basis of a thesis entitled 'The Fate of Jews in German Hands: An Historical Enquiry into the Development and Significance of Holocaust Revisionism'

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The Report of Professor Evans

4.2 The Working Party's consideration of the thesis required that it give considerable attention to the report of Professor Evans, which was commissioned by the NZJC and tendered as part of its submission to the inquiry. Professor Evans was a principal witness in the court case brought by David Irving against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt, where his extensive testimony was of considerable significance. After his report and his subsequent commentary on the examination reports were provided to Dr Hayward, Dr Orange and Professor Jensen, all three responded with criticism both of his expertise and the substance of his commentary. All three have argued that Professor Evans is not an expert on the Holocaust. Professor Evans holds a chair in modern German history at Cambridge; his publications include major works on aspects of nineteenth and twentieth-century German history. One of them, In Hitler's Shadow (1989), considered the way in which German historians since 1945 have attempted to deal with the Nazi past, and the Holocaust is central to that subject. While Professor Evans has not published specialist work dealing exclusively with the policy of the Hitler regime towards the Jews or with the Jewish experience of the Holocaust, the subject is central to his field and he has an extensive knowledge both of its literature and the major sources.

Evans4.3 The Judge in the Irving case recognised that Professor Evans was the 'principal protagonist' in the defence case that Irving had falsified history to deny the Holocaust. The Judge commented on the 'full-blooded' nature of his 'assault' on Irving and elsewhere referred to his 'harsh criticisms'. The Working Party believes that the same characterisation applies to Professor Evans' treatment of the Hayward thesis. At times in his report tendered to the Working Party, Professor Evans appeared to diminish the objectivity required of an expert witness who, in a litigation context, has an over-riding duty to the Court and not to the party instructing him or her. See Stevens v. Gullis, [2000] 1 All ER 527.

4.4 The Working Party has already noted that Professor Evans' understanding of the nature of the MA thesis at the University of Canterbury is incomplete, and his expectations of its contribution to knowledge of the subject is excessive. In considering his report, the Working Party observed some minor inaccuracies and it found some of his allegations to be not warranted.

4.5 The Working Party received a submission from Professor G. F. Orchard, counsel for Dr Orange, concerning Professor Evans' report. This submission was principally concerned with the standpoint of Professor Evans; it suggested that he acted not as an objective expert but as a partisan advocate. Professor Orchard cited examples in the Evans report of exaggeration, omission, minimisation and misrepresentation. In its detailed consideration of the thesis set out below, the Working Party has considered Professor Orchard's arguments on particular passages.

Evans4.6 The tone of the Evans report is strongly antagonistic and its highly critical treatment is not restricted to Dr Hayward alone. The supervisor and external examiner have both drawn attention to its polemical character, and have in turn subjected Professor Evans to similar criticism. The Working Party believes that such a response, though understandable, is unproductive. It has itself made every effort to discount Professor Evans' tendency to intemperate expression. Professor Evans' report has a strong scholarly foundation and it raises serious allegations. Dr Hayward, his supervisor and examiner have replied to some of these allegations, and rebutted some of them. Many have not been challenged. Many of them, as set out below, are found to be valid. It is fair to add that it must be very rare for an MA thesis to be subjected to such analysis and sustained criticism.

Richard Evans was one of the expert witnesses hired by Prof Deborah Lipstadt for her defence of David Irving's libel action

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