Letter: What the 'Times' failed to tell its sister about the Hitler diaries

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PIERS BRENDON'S account of the Hitler diaries affair ('The wrong man for the job', 5 July) needs correction. The Sunday Times did not serialise the fraudulent diaries. What it did, regrettably, was to devote several pages of its issue of 24 April 1983 to the 'discovery' of the diaries, with a foretaste of what they contained.

Originally intended for the Times, the serialisation was switched only at the last moment, at Rupert Murdoch's instruction, to the Sunday Times. On Saturday 23 April, as the Sunday Times was preparing its fanfare about the diaries, Lord Dacre, who had previously attested to their authenticity, began to express last- minute doubts. He chose to do so to the editor of the Times and his deputy editor, neither of whom passed on these doubts to me. With the first edition of the Sunday Times and its sensational headlines already off the press, I finally got through to Lord Dacre.

By then it was too late to do anything about the fatal pages. But thereafter, far from being, in Mr Brendon's words, 'unwilling to wave goodbye to its vast investment', the Sunday Times instituted its own inquiries, while the German Federal Archives also examined the suspect volumes. The result was to prove that the diaries were fakes. The promised serialisation was abandoned and an apology offered to readers.

It was a sorry story, but not the one that Mr Brendon recounts.

Frank Giles

Editor, the Sunday Times 1981-83

London W9