Black waitress handed menu with hand-drawn swastika while working at event hosted by David Irving

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Tuesday 25 July 2017 20:06 BST
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Ms Sidney said she was deeply shaken by the incident
Ms Sidney said she was deeply shaken by the incident (WSB-TV)

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An African American waitress has told how she was handed a menu containing a hand drawn swastika while unknowingly working at a private reception hosted by Holocaust denier David Irving.

Shelley Sidney said told an Atlanta television channel she had complained to her employer and demanded the event be terminated, but that he cited the right to freedom of speech. Writing on Facebook, she said she heard people using racist and homophobic slurs, and talking about “Jews and immigrants”.

“I was really in tears when I was overhearing the conversations, the private conversations of just how horrible black people are, immigrants are, gay people are,” Ms Sidney told WSB-TV.

Ms Sidney posted the image on social media
Ms Sidney posted the image on social media (Facebook)

Ms Sidney said the incident happened at the Antica Posta restaurant in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. The restaurant was apparently one of the locations for Mr Irving’s latest book tour, advertised as “David Irving looks back: My fifty years defending Real History against its enemies. An evening with the British historian”.

There is no evidence that Mr Irving was aware of the incident, or knew who had written the symbol on the menu.

Mr Irving famously lost a libel case he brought against an American historian
Mr Irving famously lost a libel case he brought against an American historian (Getty)

Mr Irving, 79, is known for his staunch and persistent denial of the Nazi Holocaust.

In 2000, he famously lost a a libel action against American historian Deborah Lipstadt and her British publisher Penguin Books, who had described Mr Irving as a Holocaust denier and falsifier, and said he manipulated and distorted real documents. The episode was featured in the 2016 movie Denial.

Denial: Timothy Spall on playing Holocaust denier David Irving

At the time, Mr Justice Charles Gray wrote in his opinion: “Irving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence; that for the same reasons he has portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favourable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards and responsibility for the treatment of the Jews; that he is an active Holocaust denier; that he is anti-Semitic and racist, and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism.”

In 2005, Mr Irving was arrested and jailed for a year for Holocaust denial in Austria, a country where such behaviour is a crime. Since then, he has continued to speak and write, and remains an icon for many neo-Nazis. He recently said he had found a “new generation” of Holocaust deniers through YouTube videos of his speeches.

Writing on Facebook, Ms Shelley said she was struggling to “process the situation, because never in my 29 years on this earth have I felt or experienced such blatant hatred”.

She added: “I cried so hard and tried to pray that feeling off. I couldn't shake it. At first I was hurt, now I’m pi**ed.”

The restaurant failed to respond to inquiries. However, its lawyer, Manny Arora, said: "I would also advise that the only “racist” in this incident was Mr David Irving and his group. Mr Betti was not familiar with who Mr Irving was prior to 7/27/17 and took immediate steps to remove [the group] from his restaurant when he learned of the offensive drawing that was discovered by one of his wait staff."

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He added: “You don’t check into people’s backgrounds or their political beliefs before you agree to a reservation.”

Mr Irving did not immediately respond to inquiries.

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