Irving v. Lipstadt
Holocaust Denial on Trial, Trial Judgment: Electronic Edition, by Charles GrayTable of Contents
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1.1 A summary of the main issues
1.1 In this action the Claimant, David Irving, maintains that he has been libelled in a book entitled "Denying the Holocaust - The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory", which was published by Penguin Books Limited and written by Professor Deborah Lipstadt, who are respectively the First and Second Defendants in the action. (For the sake of brevity I shall refer to them, as in due course I shall refer to the expert witnesses, by their last names).
1.2 The essential issues in the action can be summarised as follows: Irving complains that certain passages in the Defendants' book accuse him of being a Nazi apologist and an admirer of Hitler, who has resorted to the distortion of facts and to the manipulation of documents in support of his contention that the Holocaust did not take place. He contends that the Defendants' book is part of a concerted attempt to ruin his reputation as an historian and he seeks damages accordingly. The Defendants, whilst they do not accept the interpretation which Irving places on the passages complained of, assert that it is true that Irving is discredited as an historian by reason of his denial of the Holocaust and by reason of his persistent distortion of the historical record so as to depict Hitler in a favourable light. The Defendants maintain that the claim for damages for libel must in consequence fail.
1.3 Needless to say, the context in which these issues fall to be determined is one which arouses the strongest passions. On that account, it is important that I stress at the outset of this judgment that I do not regard it as being any part of my function as the trial judge to make findings of fact as to what did and what did not occur during the Nazi regime in Germany. It will be necessary for me to rehearse, at some length, certain historical data. The need for this arises because I must evaluate the criticisms of or (as Irving would put it) the attack upon his conduct as an historian in the light of the available historical evidence. But it is not for me to form, still less to express, a judgement about what happened. That is a task for historians. It is important that those reading this judgment should bear well in mind the distinction between my judicial role in resolving the issues arising between these parties and the role of the historian seeking to provide an accurate narrative of past events.
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