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DAVID IRVING, the Sunday Times's favourite handwriting expert, is having a few problems over the identification of his own materials. He tells us that a vicious racist leaflet entitled 'Jews - people of 'the book' or of the cosh?', produced under the name of his publishing house, Focal Point, is a fake. This, after the leaflet had been sent to every MP, had questions asked about it in the House and has been passed to the DPP in the hope that its author might, with good reason, be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred. Strangely, Mr Irving last week acknowledged the apparent emanation from his publishing house. He told Time Out magazine that he disagreed with its contents, adding: 'I have spoken to the people who issued it and recommended that for our future meetings the language is toned down.' Now, however, he has written to the MP Emma Nicholson, saying that the 'detestable' leaflet has nothing to do with Focal Point and is 'part of a sinister campaign to blacken my name'. He tells us that when he spoke to Time Out, he thought they were asking him about a different leaflet. The leaflet is initially convincing: the copy of it faxed to the Independent news desk on 3 July bears the fax imprint and number of Irving's own machine. But, after much work, the Diary's team of document authenticators pronounces this item to be as deeply fishy as, well, a Hitler diary - (it's not hard to programme a fax to print whatever number you like, and the fakers' machine has a style nothing like Irving's). Irving has been done, and rather efficiently.

MEANWHILE, it emerges that Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners, the celebrated libel lawyers who have long represented Irving, are now also acting for Francois Genoud, the Swiss businessman who is claiming copyright of the Goebbels diaries. 'We do not see any conflict of interest,' says Guy Martin, the lawyer at Carter-Ruck's who is handling Genoud. Irving is awaiting a writ from his lawyers any day.

Who's sorry now?

YOU might remember the rather grisly pictures on the evening news last August bank holiday of a pale and slightly overweight mass wallowing in the surf off Whitby pier? That was the junior environment minister Tony Baldry (and family, togged up in their Speedos), proving that the water around Britain is clean and safe enough to drop your daughter in. Well, he'd convinced us. Until yesterday, that is, when we heard that the National Rivers Authority is taking Yorkshire Water to court. The problem? A drop of raw sewage pumped into the sea less than a mile from Whitby, last August bank holiday.

JOHN MAJOR was in stonking party mood at No 10's end-of-term bash for journalists yesterday. He marched up to the Guardian's revered Westminster sleuth, David Hencke, and told him: 'You're a bore.' To general amazement - how, everyone wondered, would Major know?

Prize departure A MUSICAL by Ron Moody - famous for his Fagin in the film Oliver] - was one of five finalists up for the Vivian Ellis award for new musicals. Moody recently made a premature exit from the West End show Spread a Little Happiness, which itself ends its short and unsuccessful run next week. His departure from the show four days before curtain up did not best please the producer/director, Dan Crawford, or the man on whose compositions the show was based, Vivian Ellis. Strangely enough, both Ellis and Crawford were on the jury for yesterday's awards. And while recent events cannot possibly have influenced the wise judges, we have to tell you that Ron Moody failed to win this year's Vivian Ellis prize.

A PARCEL addressed to Tony Benn set off the bomb detector machine at Labour's party headquarters earlier this week, bringing in the police. The package turned out to be harmless - and, anyway, asked the coppers, who could possibly want to send that nice Mr Benn a bomb? The answer, swift as you like: 'Any member of the national executive committee or the Shadow Cabinet.'

When fakes get beyond a joke


17 July 1953 Drew Pearson, American political commentator, writes in his diary: 'Joe (Davies, former US ambassador to the Soviet Union) asked me to look over his memoirs. And we talked about his days during and immediately after the war. He's still of the opinion that the forceful reactionary ideas of Churchill spoiled the peace. At Potsdam he watched the argument between Churchill and Stalin. They were two great masters of direct diplomacy. Churchill was oratorical, swayed his listeners. Stalin was direct and forceful. Churchill, according to Joe, was working for the preservation of the British Empire, the long-cherished route through the Balkans, the Near East to India. Stalin was out to capture the same route.'