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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day001.02


Archive/File: people/i/irving.david/libel.suit/transcripts/day001.02
Last-Modified: 2000/07/20

   MR IRVING:  Yes, and that is the reason why I wish
particularly
        to show those videos.  I know videos are a sore point
        between us because we discussed this at the pretrial
        hearing.  Your Lordship will remember that I am
concerned
        about the state of commercially edited videos where
there
        have been cross-cuttings ----
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.
   MR IRVING:  --- and things cut out, and so on.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Yes.  Now do open the case.
   MR IRVING:  May it please your Lordship, this is my opening
        statement in the matter of David Irving v. Penguin
Books
        and Deborah Lipstadt.  I appear as a litigant in
person

.          P-9



        and the Defendants are represented by Richard Rampton
and
        Miss Rogers of counsel and by Mr Anthony Julius.
                  My Lord, there were originally three other
        Defendants as well who can be characterised here as
        booksellers, which your Lordship will observe that
they no
        longer figure in this action, a settlement having been
        reached.
                  This is an action in libel arising from the
        publication by the First Defendant of a book entitled
        "Denying the Holocaust" written by the Second
Defendant,
        Professor Lipstadt.
                  As your Lordship is aware, the work
complained
        of has attracted considerable attention, both in this
        country and in the United States and elsewhere since
it
        was first published in 1993.  Your Lordship will have
        before you my Statement of Claim in which I set out
the
        grounds for my complaint, the consequence of which I
am
        asking that the Defendants be ordered to pay damages
of an
        amount which I will venture to suggest, and I will
invite
        your Lordship to issue an injunction against further
        publication of this work and also order that the
        Defendants should make the usual undertakings.
                  My Lord, it is almost 30 years to the day
since
        I last set foot in these Law Courts, and I trust that
your
        Lordship will allow me to digress for two or three
        minutes, being (in my submission) something of

.          P-10



        an historian, on the history of those events because
there
        are not without relevance to the proceedings upon
which we
        are about to embark.
                  The occasion of that visit to this building
was
        an action heard before Lawton J, which became well-
known
        to law students as Cassell v. Broome & Another.  It
too
        was a libel action and I am ashamed to admit that I
was
        the "Another", having written a book on a naval
operation,
         "The Destruction of Convoy PQ17.  That was the only
        actively fought libel action in which I became engaged
in
        30 years of writing.  There were two reasons for this
        abstinence; my Lord, first, I became more prudent
about
        how I wrote and, second, I was taught to turn the
other
        cheek.
                  The man who taught me the latter lesson was
my
        first publisher.  He had signed up my first book, "The
        Destruction of Dresden" which was eventually published
in
        1963.  I had been approached in about 1961 by this
        gentleman, a well-known English publisher, Mr William
        Kimber.  When I visited him in his offices (which were
on
        a site which has long since been built over, buried by
a
        luxury hotel, the Berkeley in Belgravia) I found him
        surrounded by files and documents, rather as we all
are in
        this courtroom today, my Lord, and he wore an air of
        exhaustion.
                  Your Lordship may remember that Mr Kimber
and

.          P-11



        his author, Mr Leon Uris, had become involved through
a
        book which Mr Uris had written, entitled "Exodus", in
a
        libel action brought by a London doctor who had been
        obliged to serve at Auschwitz.  That case was also
heard
        before Lawton J.  There was one other similarity that
        closes this particular circle of coincidence:  like me
        now, Mr Kimber was, in consequence, also obliged to
spend
        two or three years of his life wading, as he put it,
"knee
        deep" through the most appalling stories of atrocities
and
        human delegation.
                  That day he advised me never, ever, to
become in
        involved in libel litigation.  I might add that, with
one
        exception that I shall later mention, I have heeded
his
        advice.
                  There have since been one or two minor legal
        skirmishes which have not involved much "bloodshed".
        There was an action against an author which I
foolishly
        started at the same time as the PQ17 case and, having
lost
        the latter, i was obliged for evident reasons to
abandon
        it on relatively painless conditions; and a more
recent
        actions against a major London newspaper who put into
my
        mouth, no doubt inadvertently, some particularly
offensive
        words which had, in fact, been uttered by Adolf
Hitler.
        That newspaper settled out of court with me on terms
that
        were eminently acceptable, my Lord.
                  I have often thought of Mr Kimber's
predicament

.          P-12



        since the 1960s and, more particularly, the last three
        years.  I have been plunged into precisely the same
"knee
        deep" position ever since I issued the originating
writs
        in this action in September 1996.
                  My Lord, by the way, does your Lordship
actually
        require to see the writs today?
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  No, not at all; if I need to look at any
        document, I will just mention that I would like to
look at
        it -- certainly not the writs.  Thank you.
   MR IRVING:  If I am late with the bundles and papers upon
which
        this court relies, I can only plead this in
mitigation,
        knee deep.
                  I have never held myself out to be a
Holocaust
        expert, nor have I written books about what is now
called
        the Holocaust.  If I am an expert in anything at all,
I
        may be so immodest to submit that it is in the role
that
        Adolf Hitler played in the propagation of World War
II,
        and in the decisions which he made and the knowledge
on
        which he based those decisions.
                  As a peripheral matter to that topic on
which
        I have written a number of books, I inevitably
        investigated the extent to which Hitler participated
in or
        had cognisance of the Holocaust.  That was the sum
total
        of my involvement as a book author up to the launching
of
        these writs.
                  Since then, because of the tactics chosen by
the

.          P-13



        Defendants, my Lord, I have been obliged willy-nilly
to
        become something of an expert through no desire of my
own.
        To my utmost distaste, it has become evident that it
is no
        longer possible to write pure history, untrammelled
and
        uninfluenced by politics, once one ventures into this
        unpleasant field.
                  I have done my best to prepare the case that
        follows, but I respectfully submit that I do not have
any
        duty to become an expert on the Holocaust, my Lord.
It is
        not saying anything unknown to this court.  I remind
those
        present that, the Defendants having pleaded
justification,
        as they have, it is not incumbent upon me, as the
        Claimant, to prove the wrongness of what they have
        published; it is for them to prove that what they
wrote
        was true.
                  I intend to show that far from being a
        "Holocaust denier" -- the phrase in the title of the
book
         -- I have repeatedly draw attention to major aspects
of
        the Holocaust and I have described them and I have
        provided historical documents, both to the community
of
        scholars and to the general public of which they were
        completely unaware before I discovered these
documents,
        and published them and translated them.
                  It will be found that I selflessly provided
        copies of the documents, that I had at great expense
        myself unearthed foreign archives even to my rival

.          P-14



        historians, as I felt that it was important in the
        interests of general historical research that they
should
        be aware of these documents.  I am referring, for
example,
        to the Bruns Report, my Lord, which we will shall
shortly
        hear -- it is the document which I provided to you
        separately -- and to the dossier on Kurt Aumeier in
        British files, a dossier which even the Defence
experts
        admit is one of the most important historical finds
since
        the writings of Rudolph Hoss, the commandant of
Auschwitz,
        were published after the war.
                  My Lord, that actual document I quote all
the
        relevant parts in the opening statement, but I have
        submitted the document to your Lordship as a courtesy.
   MR JUSTICE GRAY:  Thank you very much.
   MR IRVING:  There is one essential plea that I wish to make
of
        this court:  I am aware that the Defendants have
expended
        a considerable sum of money in researching all over
again
        the harrowing story of what actually happened in what
they
        call the Holocaust.
                  I submit that, harsh though it may seem, the
        court should take no interest in that tragedy.  The
court
        may well disagree with me, and show a profound
interest in
        it, but, in my submission, we have to avoid the
        temptations of raking over the history of what
happened in
        Poland or in Russia 50 years ago.  What is moot here
is
        not what happened in those sites of atrocities, but
what

.          P-15



        happened over the last 32 years on my writing desk in
my
        apartment off Grosvenor Square.  That is what is at
stake
        here.
                  To justify her allegations of manipulation
and
        distortion, it will not suffice for Professor Lipstadt
to
        show, if she can, that I misrepresented what happened,
but
        that I knew what happened and that I perversely and
        deliberately, for whatever purpose, portrayed it
        differently from how I knew it to have happened.
                  That is what manipulation and distortion
means,
        and the other, though fundamental, story of what
actually
        happened is neither here nor there.  In effect, this
        enquiry should not leave the four walls of my study,
my
        Lord.  It should look at the papers that lay before me
and
        not before some other magnificently funded research or
        scholar, and at the manuscript that I then produced on
the
        basis of my own limited sources.
                  My Lord, if we were to seek a title for this
        libel action, I would venture to suggest "Pictures at
an
        execution" -- my execution.
                  Your Lordship may or not be aware that I
have
        had a reputation as an historian and as an
investigative
        writer arising from the 30 or so works which I have
        published in English and other languages over the
years
        since 1961.  I am the author of many scores of
articles in
        serious and respected newspapers, including over the
years

                                                     [Page 16]



        in this country, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday
        Telegraph, the Jewish Chronicle, the Sunday Express,
the
        Evening Standard, Encounter and publications of
similar
        repute in Germany.  My articles have appeared in
        newspapers ranging from Die Welt, Die Welt am Sonntag,
and
        magazines and journals like Stern, Der Spiegel, Neue
        Illustrierte, Quick.
                  My books have appeared between hard covers
under
        the imprint of the finest publishing houses.  I might
        mention in this country the imprints of William Kimber
        Ltd, Cassell & Company Ltd, Macmillan Limited, Hodder
&
        Stoughton, Penguin -- Penguin, the First Defendants in
        this action -- and Allen Lane and others.  As the
Second
        Defendant is, I understand, an American citizen, it
might
        be meritorious for me to add that my works have also
been
        published by her country's leading publishing houses
too,
        including the Viking Press, Little, Brown, Simon &
        Schuster, Holt, Reinhardt, Winston, St Martin's Press
and
        a score of no less reputable paperback publishing
houses.
                  Each of those published works by me
contained in
        or near the title page a list of my previous
publications
        and frequently a sample of the accolades bestowed on
my
        works by the leading names of literature and
        historiography on both sides of the Atlantic.

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