'A victory for all who speak out against prejudice'

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Deborah Lipstadt said yesterday that she considered her libel victory not just a personal win but "a victory for all those who speak out against hate and prejudice".

In a statement issued after her successful defence, Professor Lipstadt, 51, said she hoped other authors would be saved such "trials and tribulations". "Let us remember that this trial was not about whether the Holocaust happened but whether I was correct in describing David Irving as a denier of the Holocaust, a Hitler partisan, an anti-Semite and a right-wing extremist," she said. "The judge has found that I was correct in all these points."

Professor Lipstadt, who occupies the Dorot Chair in Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, United States, made the accusations in her book Denying the Holocaust, published in Britain in 1995.

She said the idea for the book started in the late Eighties, when she became aware of the number of Holocaust deniers who were being offered respectable platforms. She said she was happy to discuss certain aspects of the Holocaust, such as whether the Final Solution was Hitler's alone, but she refused to discuss whether the Holocaust took place. "That would be equivalent to debating whether the Roman Empire existed," she once said.

Born in New York to a German Jewish father and a Canadian mother, Professor Lipstadt describes herself as a traditionalist, but not an Orthodox Jew. She sits on the executive committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and chairs its educational committee.

Yesterday she said she was grateful to her publishers, Penguin, for backing her case, adding: "I am very pleased that what I wrote has been vindicated. I never had any doubts that it would be, but none the less I am grateful."

In a statement, Penguin said it fought to "defend our right as a publisher and to defend the right of our author to publish her serious and highly regarded book on the subject of Holocaust denial". It added: "We believed it was our duty to defend the claim which the evidence showed - and which the judge has now ruled - had no merit."