Irving v. Lipstadt
Holocaust Denial on Trial, Appeal Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Lord Justice PillTable of Contents
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The central issue
6. Both at the trial, and at the hearing of this application, stress has been placed on the importance of the applicant's integrity as a serious historian. The judge drew attention (3.2) to the applicant's statement that "for him his reputation as a truth-seeking historian is more important than anything else". Consideration of the applicant's reputation as an historian was central to the trial and is central to this application. Indeed, the judge's conclusion (13.1), that "the charges levelled at Irving's historiography appear to me to lie at the heart of what Lipstadt wrote about him in Denying the Holocaust" is expressly adopted on the applicant's behalf though it is strongly denied that the charges are true. The judge recorded (5.9) that the applicant testified "that he had never knowingly or wilfully misrepresented a document or misquoted or suppressed any document which would run counter to his case".
7. The judge acknowledged (4.7) that the burden of proving the defence of justification rested upon the respondents. To succeed in their defence of justification, in relation to the allegations at (i), (iii) and (vi) above, the respondents have to establish not only that the applicant is not a reputable historian, to use the expression adopted at the hearing as a form of shorthand for the allegations about his work, but also that he had a motive of his own in distorting the evidence. The second limb has not however been the subject of dispute. On behalf of the applicant, Mr Davies accepts that if the applicant is shown not to be a reputable historian, which is the central issue, his motivation is not an important issue. Mr Davies says that it is "at the margin". It is dealt with briefly later in this judgment. Mr Davies of course rightly adds that, if the respondents have failed to demonstrate that the applicant is not a reputable historian, their case cannot be made by proving a motivation, however unattractive. The allegation of "holocaust denial" has also been put as a subsidiary issue.