Holocaust denier Irving must pay £2.4m libel costs

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The Independent Online

The revisionist historian David Irving is facing bankruptcy after losing an appeal on Friday over a libel ruling that he was a "Holocaust denier".

The academic, whose book Hitler's War contended there was no strong evidence of the mass gassing of Jews by the Nazis, had sought to claim that last year's libel judgment against him was unjustified. But the Court of Appeal ruled that, in casting doubt on the existence of gas chambers and the scale of their use, he had taken a position that "no objective or fair-minded" historian could sustain.

Mr Irving, 63, was ordered to pay the estimated £2.4m legal bill. Lawyers said they would consider bankruptcy proceedings if the first £150,000 was not paid within 21 days.

The writer had sued Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic, and her publisher, Penguin, over her 1994 book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, which described Irving as "one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial".

During last year's High Court trial, Mr Irving claimed Professor Lipstadt's work had been defamatory and destroyed his livelihood as well as generating waves of hatred against him.

At the original trial, the judge, Mr Justice Gray, found Mr Irving had deliberately misrepresented historical evidence and portrayed Hitler in an unwarranted favourable light, thus justifying Professor Lipstadt's description.

In the week-long appeal heard last month, Lord Justice Pill, sitting with two other judges at the Court of Appeal, threw out the case, saying there was incontrovertible proof that Mr Irving had set out to deny the Holocaust and, in some aspects, continued to do so.

The judgment added that the trial judge, Mr Justice Gray, was "fully justified" in reaching his conclusion that Mr Irving's views on the Third Reich meant he could be called a "Holocaust denier".

Lawyers for the academic, who was not in court for yesterday's judgment, said the libel ruling had been made against the weight of evidence.

Penguin is likely to have to foot much of the legal bill if he is declared bankrupt and his assets do not amount to £2.4m.