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Irving ordered to pay £150,000 costs bankruptcy

Disgraced historian David Irving was yesterday ordered to pay £150,000 on account within six weeks towards defence costs in his failed libel action - or face bankruptcy.

The decision followed an earlier attempt by Mr Irving's lawyers to stave off his financial ruin by questioning the costs in the high-profile case by his opponents, Penguin Books.

Adrian Davies, for Mr Irving, suggested Penguin had run up a bill for £2m because it knew it was being indemnified by its parent company, Pearson.

Mr Davies said Mr Irving - described in last month's judgment as an anti-Semite and racist who deliberately distorted the historical record to suit his political views - intended to appeal against the decision and planned to hire leading counsel to fight his case.

If the historian made an initial payment of £500,000, as Penguin had asked, he would become personally bankrupt and unable to properly conduct his appeal, said Mr Davies.

At yesterday's costs hearing before Mr Justice Gray, Mr Irving, who represented himself in the 32-day trial, was advised by a barrister and solicitor. But unconfirmed reports suggested his London legal firm, Goldsmiths, no longer wished to represent him after yesterday on "ideological grounds".

Mr Irving launched his libel action against Penguin Books and author Deborah Lipstadt in 1996, after publication two years earlier of her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. He claimed the book destroyed his livelihood and generated hatred against him.

Heather Rogers, for Penguin Books, told Mr Justice Gray that £1m had already been paid out by her clients to experts. Miss Rogers said that there was no evidence before the court about the state of Mr Irving's means or of his fighting fund, which he claimed had attracted many supporters around the world.