School talk by Irving is cancelled

Click to follow
The Independent Online
AN INVITATION to David Irving, the far-right 'revisionist' historian, to address pupils at a public school on 'Hitler and the Jewish question' has been cancelled after protests by parents, writes Rosie Waterhouse.

Mr Irving, an old boy of Brentwood School, Essex, had been invited to address the school's historical society tomorrow. Most of the audience would have been sixth-formers, but pupils as young as 11 could have attended.

Last week the headmaster, John Evans, was inundated with calls from furious parents. One of them, Jane Myers, said: 'We are Jewish and I found it incredibly offensive that he should be invited. I have spoken to non- Jewish parents who also find it unbelievable. Children of that age are not able to separate truth from his propaganda and they are going to come out with all sorts of warped ideas.'

On Friday night Mr Evans decided to cancel Mr Irving's appearance. He said he had originally agreed, with considerable misgivings, to allow Mr Irving to speak, on the grounds that pupils should be exposed to all shades of thought and political ideas: 'Freedom of speech is a rock on which our constitution is founded.' However, in the present political climate, especially in eastern Germany, doctrines of racism were offensive to many people.

'Out of deep respect for such feelings and from a concern that in such a climate the school may be targeted by extremist hooligans, or that the school, however wrongly, may be thought to be condoning Mr Irving's attitudes, I have asked the organisers to cancel Mr Irving's invitation to speak,' Mr Evans said.