LONDON (Jul. 22)
Holocaust denier David Irving is facing possible bankruptcy after being denied permission to appeal his defeat in a libel suit he brought against an American scholar.
The Court of Appeal in London rejected Irving’s request to appeal last year’s verdict by judge Charles Gray that labeled him a racist anti-Semite who had deliberately misrepresented and distorted historical evidence about the Holocaust.
Gray ruled that Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, did not libel Irving in her 1994 book “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory,” in which she called Irving a Holocaust denier.
Last Friday, the three-judge appeals panel supported Gray’s ruling and said Irving was “one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial.”
“No objective, fair-minded historian would have serious cause to doubt that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz and that they were operated on a substantial scale to kill hundreds of thousands of Jews,” the ruling said.
The court ordered Irving to pay a first installment of $210,000 toward Lipstadt and Penguin’s legal costs by Aug. 10. If he does not come up with the money, he faces bankruptcy.
Under the terms of Gray’s original ruling, Irving must pay Lipstadt and Penguin’s legal costs, which are estimated to be as high as $3.3 million.
Irving relied on donations from supporters to bring his legal challenge last month.
In his online diary, Irving says that it is “his own business” how he will meet his financial obligations and that he will “never” reveal the names of his supporters, “whatever the penalty.”
Irving was not in court to hear the decision. His lawyer, Adrian Davies, said he was promoting a new book on Winston Churchill.
In an unusual move, the appeals court allowed Davies to present three days of argument supporting his client’s request for permission to appeal. These types of oral arguments rarely last more than an hour or two in Britain.
Lipstadt’s lawyer, Richard Rampton, said that Irving was trying to turn the request for an appeal into an appeal itself.
“The court heard all the arguments to see if there was a glimmer of merit,” Rampton told JTA. “As it turned out, they didn’t see a glimmer. In effect, they’ve heard the merits of the case, so I think that’s the end of the line” for Irving.
In theory, Irving could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, but Rampton said he doubts the international court would hear an Irving plea.
Irving has not asked for the House of Lords, Britain’s highest legal authority, to hear his appeal.
“He hasn’t exhausted all domestic remedies, so he is unlikely to be heard at Strasbourg,” Rampton said.
Rampton said he did not know how far Lipstadt and Penguin were prepared to pursue Irving through the courts to recover their legal costs.
British Jewish leaders welcomed the ruling.
“The decision confirms beyond all doubt that David Irving is a falsifier of history and a Nazi sympathizer whose aim has been to sanitize Nazism and absolve Hitler,” said Neville Nagler, director general of the Board of Deputies, an organization that represents most British Jews.
“His reputation as a historian has been completely destroyed,” Nagler added.