The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit//transcripts//day032.05

Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day032.05
Last-Modified: 2000/07/25

   MR RAMPTON:  I propose that they probably are connected.  I do
        not have to do that, but I propose that they are
        connected, and that the link between them, I have no doubt
        at all he is genuinely anti-Semitic and all the more
        defamatory it is of him to say so, and it is true.
        I propose that certainly, that he is genuinely profoundly
        anti-Semitic.  But the bridge between the Holocaust denial
        and the Hitler apology from anti-Semitism is a very easy
        one to build, because what more would an historian who is

.          P-47

        an anti-Semite want to do in exculpation of Hitler which
        he has been trying to do by telling lies about history for
        years, what more would he want to do than to deny the Holocaust?

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, but he might believe what he is saying.
        That is the point.  That is why it is important.

   MR RAMPTON:  Believe what he is saying about what?

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  About the Holocaust.

   MR RAMPTON:  There is no way he could believe what he is saying
        about the Holocaust if it ----

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I understand that, but that has nothing to do
        with his anti-Semitism.  I am not sure I am making my
        point clear to you that ----

   MR RAMPTON:  No, I take a profound anti-Semite, I see that he
        has denied the Holocaust without any historical
        justification whatsoever.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  But I understand all of that.

   MR RAMPTON:  Then I ask myself, what is his reason for denying
        the Holocaust because he has not got a good historical
        one, there must be another one?  And the most obvious
        thing for a profound and genuine anti-Semite to do because
        it suits his book is to leap into Holocaust denial without
        any proper evidence at all, any evidence at all, and cart
        it around the world in front of him and to audiences at
        other anti-Semites and neofascists.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is another agenda, you would say?

.          P-48

   MR RAMPTON:  Yes, that is the other agenda; the promotion of anti-Semitism.


   MR RAMPTON:  And given that there is, as I say, absolutely no
        historical foundation, no proper historical foundation,
        for Holocaust denial, and given that there is evidence
        that Mr Irving is an anti-Semite, as I say, the bridge
        between the one and the other is very easy to build indeed.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, thank you.

   MR RAMPTON:  And the same goes for Hitler exculpation.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Thank you very much.  Now, Mr Irving, it is your turn.

   MR IRVING:  My Lord, it might be proper, perhaps, to have a
        five-minute adjournment as the Defendants have provided to
        me a list of objections they make to my closing statement
        and, indeed, I think it would be fair to them if I
        were just to review those objections and see if I ought to
        take them on board.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  I do not have any difficulty with that.  Will
        five minutes be enough?

   MR IRVING:  Five minutes will be enough.

                       (Short Adjournment)

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes, Mr Irving?

   MR IRVING:  My Lord, rather like going over the top in
        Gallipoli, but my father was in that battle so I know what

.          P-49

        it is like.  I will be making omissions from the text that
        I gave your Lordship and I will indicate by saying that
        I am omitting a sentence or a paragraph so that your Lordship can follow.

   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  That is very kind.

   MR IRVING:  May it please the court.  The Defendants in this
        action, the publisher Penguin Books Limited and the
        American scholar Deborah Lipstadt, have sought to cast
        this trial as being about the reputation of the Holocaust.  It is not.

                  The world's press have also reported it in this 
        way.  Again, it is not.

                  This trial is about my reputation as a human
        being, as an historian of integrity, and - thanks to the
        remarks made by Mr Rampton - as a father.  The Defendants
        are saying, and have so convinced many people, that I am
        not entitled to continue to earn a living in the way that
        I have earned it for nearly 40 years.  A judgment in my
        favour is no more than that judgment that disputed points
        which I have made about some aspect of the narrative are
        not so absurd, given the evidence, as to disqualify me
        from the ranks of historians.  Under the laws of
        defamation as they exist in this country, it could not be
        anything else, and nor must the defence team, no matter
        how powerful, how moneyed, or eloquent, or numerous, be
        allowed by their tactics to skew it in any other way.

.          P-50

                  I may add that the points I have made do not
        necessarily lessen the horror or the burden of guilt.
        I have always accepted that Adolf Hitler, as Head of State
        and government in Germany, was responsible for the
        Holocaust.  I said, in the Introduction to my flagship
        biography, Hitler's War (this is a reference to the 1991

                  If this biography were simply a history of the
        rise and fall of Hitler's Reich, it would be legitimate to
        conclude: "Hitler killed the Jews".  But my years of
        investigations suggested that many others were
        responsible, that the chain of responsibility was not as
        clear cut as that.  Nothing that I have heard in this
        Court since January 11th has persuaded me that I was wrong
        on this account.

                  These latter points lead to another
        consideration.  Your Lordship will have heard of the -
        largely successful - effort to drive me out of business as
        an historian.  This Court has seen the timidity, in my
        submission, with which historians have already been
        fraught once Holocaust is questioned, not denied,
        questioned.  One notable historian, whose name has been
        mentioned this morning, ordered by summons by myself to
        attend, showed himself reluctant even to confirm what he
        had written in my favour, repeatedly, over the last 20 years.

.          P-51

                  A judgment rendered against me will make this
        paralysis in the writing of history definitive; from then
        on, no one will dare to discuss who exactly was involved
        in each stage of the Holocaust -- rather like in Germany
        now, you cannot do it any more -- or how extensive it
        was.  From then on, discussion will revolve around "safe"
        subjects, like sacred texts in the Middle Ages, or Marx in
        the old Soviet Union, or the Koran in some fundamentalist
        state today.  Every historian will know that his critique
        needs to stop sharply at the boundaries defined by certain
        authorities. He will have a choice; accept the official
        version, holus-bolus; or stop being an historian.

                  A judgment in my favour does not mean that the
        Holocaust never happened; it means only that in England
        today discussion is still permitted.  My opponents would
        still be able to say, just as now, would still be able,
        just as now, to produce other documents if they can; to
        expound alternative interpretations.  They would be as
        free as ever to declare that they think that I am wrong
        and all the other things that have been said about me
        today.  They would be impeded in one way only: they would
        not be able to say in a loud and authoritative voice that
        I am not an historian, and that my books must be banned.
        As a result of my work (and of this case) the Holocaust,
        in fact, has been researched more, not less.  Those who
        (rightly) believe that these crimes should never be

.          P-52

        forgotten (and I stress the word "rightly"), these crimes
        should never be forgotten, should ask whether their case
        is better served by a compulsory - and dead - text imposed
        by law and intimidation, or by a live and on-going

                  Our Common Law has at its kernel an
         "adversarial" procedure whereby, it is believed, truth is
        best elicited by each side putting their case as strongly
        as possible.  We have heard some pretty strong things said
        today.  I agree with English Common Law.

                  I read in The Independent, a newspaper in this
        country, in a lengthy and deeply libellous article
        published only last week about me, these words: "But if
        he wins, it will open the door for revisionists to rewrite
        any event in history without the requirement to consider
        evidence that does not suit them and without fear that
        they will be publicly denounced for their distortion".

                  My Lord, in bygone days, I venture to submit,
        such an article, published while an action was literally
        sub judice, would have been a clear contempt.  Your
        Lordship will have noticed that I wearied, after a few
        days, of drawing attention to the coverage of this trial
        in the media.  Allow me, however, to introduce one
        cautionary statistic:  not including the fuss about the
        Eichmann manuscript, the British press have published no
        fewer than 167 reports during the seven days that I was on

.          P-53

        the witness stand, that is 24 per day; but just 58 reports
        during the 20 days when the boot was on the other foot and
        I was cross-examining Mr Rampton's fine witnesses, that is
        roughly three per day.  That is a disparity of about eight
        to one.  I make no complaint about that.  If your Lordship
        has noticed any of these items, you will perhaps have
        observed that the reporting in both cases is almost
        exclusively devoted to the defence statements, or their
        questions to me, and not to the product of the
        examination.  That is the way things are in a free
        society.  The Court, however, operates by different
        standards, and it will not allow public sentiment, I hope,
        to guide its verdict.

                  I believe it was Churchill who once said, "There
        is such thing as public opinion, there is only published
        opinion".  Given such a baleful glare from the press
        gallery, my Lord, I am glad that her Majesty has such a
        resolute officer presiding over this case.  The outcome is
        in your Lordship's hands and yours alone, and I am glad,
        I am confident that nothing that the press has written, or
        may yet write, will deflect your Lordship from arriving at
        a just conclusion.

                  The Defendants have sold around the world a
        book, "Denying the Holocaust".  May I say here that I see
        Penguin Books among the Defendants to my sorrow, as they
        have published my own works in the past.  They continuing

.          P-54

        even today, however, and I stress this fact, to sell this
        book for profit, in the knowledge that it contains very
        defamatory allegations and that those allegations are held
        to be untrue.  It is a reckless, even foolhardy, gesture
        which I submit, my Lord, goes to the question of
        aggravated damages when the time comes.

                  Neither of these Defendants evidently bothered
        even to have the manuscript professionally read for
        libel.  I say "evidently" because we do not know: they
        have not deigned to enter the witness box themselves, no
        executive of Penguin Books, not the author who has, I must
        say, sat in this room for the two months that the trial
        has continued, neither of them has deigned to enter the
        witness box to answer even that most straightforward and
        elementary of questions, was there a libel reading of this
        book?  Nor have they answered this question when it was
        put to them in writing.  Such a report, a libel report,
        is, in my submission, not privileged, and I would have
        been well prepared to argue the point; had they claimed
        that privilege, I would have asked, "On what grounds?"  If
        a report was written, it should and no doubt would have
        been disclosed, and it was not disclosed.  So we are
        entitled to assume that they did not bother to have the
        book read.  It does not exist, the report.

                  Whatever other limited excuses - whether of
        sheer ignorance, or of innocent dissemination - that the

.          P-55

        publisher might have (quite wrongfully) deployed for
        publishing this malicious and deeply flawed work were
        destroyed from the moment when they received my writ in
        September 1996, and were thus informed, if they did not
        know in fact already, of the nature and scope of the
        libels it contains.  And, as said, they have continued to
        sell it, hoping no doubt to cash in on, to profit from,
        the notoriety gained by these libel proceedings, which is
        a textbook case of Rookes v. Barnard if there ever was
        one, since the book they are selling still contains even
        the several libels which they have made no attempt here to
        justify.  They have to justify their allegations - - I am
        referring, of course, my Lord, to the ----


   MR IRVING:  --- matters they have pleaded section 5 on
        originally.  They have made no attempt to justify their
        allegations or their defence fails -- I am sorry.  They
        have to justify their allegations, or their defence fails;
        and as your Lordship is aware, where the defamations are
        particularly grave, a higher burden of proof falls upon
        them than the mere balance of probabilities that is
        normally acceptable.  In both Defendants, moreover, there
        is clear evidence of malice, both in those few documents
        which the author of this work has disclosed -- I stress
        the word "few"; pitifully few documents have been placed
        in my hands -- and in the fact that the same firm of

.          P-56

        publishers had previously distributed a work, a book, in
        which I was variously caricatured as Adolf Hitler and
        wearing swastika eyeglasses.

                  The very worst of the libels are so blatant that
        neither Defendant has insulted the intelligence of this
        Court by offering any justification to them.  They hope
        instead to divert the court's attention by reference to
        distant and notorious matters of history and by calling me
        a racist.  In consequence, for 30 days or more of this
        Court's time, we have had to rake over the embers of what
        may be one of the greatest crimes known to Mankind:  a
        harrowing, time-wasting, needless effort, which has
        yielded even now few answers to great questions and
        mysteries which even the world's finest academics have so
        far not managed to unravel.

                  I come now to one of the first of these
        unanswered and unjustified libels which will come as a
        surprise to many people in this courtroom because there is
        no reference to it in Mr Rampton's summary.  On page 14 of
        the book, the Defendants published one of the gravest
        libels that can be imagined for a respectable English
        citizen who lives a very public life, namely that I
        consort with the extremist anti-Semitic Russian group
        Pamyat, with violent anti-Israeli murderers, with
        extremist terrorists, and with Louis Farrakhan, a Black
        Power agitator who is known to be acting in the pay of a

.          P-57

        foreign power, namely the Libyan dictator.  This is not
        just the simple allegation of associating with
        "extremists", the kind of people who use fountain pens to
        deliver their extremism, about which they have made so
        much.  The words on page 14 are as follows - and I make no
        apology, my Lord, for reminding the Court of them, the
        Second Defendant wrote:

                  "The confluence between anti-Israel,
        anti-Semitic, and Holocaust denial forces was exemplified
        by a world anti-Zionist conference scheduled for Sweden in
        November 1992.  Though cancelled at the last minute by the
        Swedish government, scheduled speakers included black
        Muslim leader, Louis Farrakhan, Faurrison, Irving", that
        is me, "and Leuchter.  Also scheduled to participate were
        representatives of a variety of anti-Semetic and
        anti-Israel organisations, including the Russian group
        Pamyat, the Iranian-backed Hizbollah and the
        fundamentalist Islamic organization Hamas".

                  Now, that whole statement was a reckless lie.
        It appears from their discovery to have been based on a
        press release issued by the jewish Telegraph Agency in New
        York which neither that agency or the Defendants made any
        attempt to verify.  The Court will have noticed in one of
        my bundles the letter which I sent to every Scandinavian
        Embassy at the time, anxiously denying this allegation. I
        have pleaded, as your Lordship is aware, that the innuendo

.          P-58

        was that I was "thereby agreeing to appear in public in
        support of and alongside violent and extremist speakers,
        including representatives of the violent and extremist
        anti-Semitic Russian group Pamyat ... the Hizbollah ...
        the Hamas ... Farrakhan ... who is known as a Jew-baiting
        black agitator ... and he is known as an admirer of Hitler
        and who is in the pay of Colonel Gaddafi".

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