History repeats itself for Irving as Tolstoy threatens action

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David Irving, the right-wing historian dubbed an anti-semite and a racist by a High Court Judge, is facing his second major legal battle in a year.

David Irving, the right-wing historian dubbed an anti-semite and a racist by a High Court Judge, is facing his second major legal battle in a year.

Count Nikolai Tolstoy, great nephew of the author of War and Peace, and no stranger to the law courts himself, is threatening action, claiming his reputation has been tarnished after being linked to a revisionist conference organised and hosted by Mr Irving.

The Count's name appeared on a list of speakers invited to the event, called David Irving's Real History, which is being held this month in Cincinnati, in the US.

Count Tolstoy emphatically denies that he will be attending the conference, and says that his name should not have been included in publicity material. Last year's conference speakers included the author Germar Rudolf who claims no gas chambers were used to murder people at Auschwitz.

"I've spent so much of my life exposing war crimes and this makes it seem like I'm an apologist," added the Count, who is a member of the Council of Christians and Jews.

"I will not allow the cause I've been fighting for to be tarnished like that. The implication is that I was attending and I took exception to that - this was intended to give a false impression.

"He has written back to say my name was included because he was in a hurry to print the brochure, which is a bit rich."

Both men are familiar with the court system. In April this year, Mr Irving lost a libel action against Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic, and Penguin Books who accused him of denying the Holocaust.

Mr Justice Gray, the judge in the case, said he was a Holocaust denier and ordered him to pay £150,000 towards the £2m legal costs.

During the trial, Mr Irving had claimed that the label of "holocaust denier" had generated "waves of hatred" and made him an outcast among publishers.

The evidence, which was played out for eight weeks in court 73 of the High Court, included writings by the historian which blamed the murder of Stephen Lawrence on mass immigration.

Count Tolstoy was involved in a celebrated libel trial involving Lord Aldington, who was awarded damages of £1.5m in 1989 over a claim by Count Tolstoy that Lord Aldington had "the blood of 70,000 innocent men, women and children on his hands".

At the centre of the trial was a pamphlet, written by Count Tolstoy and his co-defendant, Nigel Watts. This alleged that in 1945 Lord Aldington - then Brigadier Toby Low, chief of staff of 5 Corps, a unit of the British Army in Austria - had signed orders to hand over Cossacks and Yugoslavs, who fought alongside the Germans, to their Communist enemies.

It was alleged that the hand overs to the forces of Tito and Stalin amounted to a war crime because many of the Cossacks and Yugoslavs were subsequently massacred or sent to Soviet prison camps.

The settlement was the largest awarded in a libel case.