LONDON, May 8 (JTA) — Holocaust denier David Irving has come a step closer to financial ruin now that a British judge has ordered him to start paying millions of dollars in legal costs.
During a court session last Friday, Judge Charles Gray ordered Irving to pay some $250,000 to Penguin Books by June 16 following his failed libel action against the publisher and American historian Deborah Lipstadt.
If the money — a down payment on total legal and research costs of some $3 million — is not paid by then, the judge said Irving would face bankruptcy proceedings.
Last month, Irving lost his lawsuit against Lipstadt and Penguin, whom Irving accused of ruining his career by labeling him a Holocaust denier. Ruling against Irving on April 11, Gray called him an anti-Semitic Holocaust denier and Hitler apologist who distorted historical data to suit his own ideological agenda.
Penguin lawyer Heather Rogers had initially asked for a down payment of some $800,000, but Irving’s lawyer, Adrian Davies, replied that even half that amount could bankrupt Irving.
Rogers told the court that Penguin had already paid out more than $1.5 million to defense experts who testified at the three-month-long trial.
Irving, 62, who has not yet obtained permission to appeal the judgment, has argued that defense experts and lawyers were paid too much.
Gray ordered Irving to pay the $250,000 by June 16 on the basis that Penguin Books was prepared to accept that figure for the time being.
The court was told that Irving had boasted to reporters that he had a “fighting fund” of more than $500,000 made up of contributions sent to him by supporters around the world.
After the hearing, Irving refused to say whether he could or would pay. He said the money in the fighting fund was in an offshore account.
Meanwhile, Penguin lawyer Kevin Bays said the publishing house is determined to recover its legal and research fees from Irving.
“On the one hand, he says he doesn’t have any money. On the other hand, he’s reported as saying he has 5,000 supporters around the world making donations,” said Bays.
As a result of the judge’s order last Friday, “We’ll find out if he has lots of supporters and money. If he doesn’t pay, we’ll have to enforce payment. The ultimate is bankruptcy.
“A trustee in bankruptcy would be appointed to assess any assets he’s got,” added Bays. “That would include his house.”
Irving, who represented himself during the libel trial, hired lawyers to represent him at the hearing for costs.
But he complained that the law firm he had hired, Goldsmiths, had refused to represent him beyond the costs hearing on “ideological” grounds.