Posted Saturday, May 12, 2001

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Atlanta, Georgia, USA, May 10, 2001



Debating society opts to disinvite Holocaust denier


THE prestigious Oxford Union on Wednesday canceled a debate that was to feature the maverick historian who lost a libel suit against an Atlanta professor who depicted him as a Holocaust denier.

David Irving, who rejects accepted accounts of the Nazi campaign to exterminate Jews, was to have debated Richard Rampton, the lawyer who won the case against him last year. The encounter at the 178-year-old debate society at England's Oxford University had been scheduled for today behind closed doors.

Rampton successfully defended Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt and her British publisher, Penguin Books, against Irving's lawsuit over her portrayal of him in the book "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory." After hearing three months of testimony, a British judge supported Lipstadt's portrait of Irving as a bigoted would-be historian who had distorted historical facts to support his extremist views. Irving's appeal will be heard in June.

Informed of the Oxford Union's decision, Irving said,

"The student body had been whipped up into a ferment by subversive groups working on campus. They decided to go ahead with the free speech debate without me, which should be rather ironic."

Irving had intended to argue the proposition: "This house would restrict the free speech of extremists." The topic refers to an earlier scheduled appearance by Irving that also was canceled under student pressure.

The Oxford Union is a private club and debating society that operates independently of Oxford University.

Simon Petar, a representative of the National Union of Students, condemned Irving's planned appearance at Oxford.

"It is an utter travesty that a historic institution such as the Oxford Union, which should be committed to truth and justice, has decided to abandon these values and provide a platform for a man who has been vilified by the High Court for questioning whether 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis," Petar said.

The Oxford Union made no comment about the cancellation. In an earlier statement, Amy Harland, the union's president, defended the invitation to Irving.

"These complex issues have not been properly debated for some time," she said. "If Britain is to be a free and diverse nation, (freedom of speech) needs to be addressed".

Copyright 2001 The Atlanta Constitution
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 Lipstadt trial


THE special Atlanta interest in the story is that Deborah Lipstadt, the Holocaust "scholar", is a lecturer at the local Coca-Cola-funded Emory University,

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