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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/i/irving.david//libel.suit/libel.details

Archive/File: holocaust/england/irving libel
Last-Modified: 1994/02/15

<35> His first book, The Destruction of Dresden (London: W. Kimber, 1963),
caused a sensation by its accusation that the Anglo-American raids on
Dresden in February 1945 constituted a major war atrocity. Irving's book,
which exaggerated threefold the number of deaths that actually occurred and
made unfounded charges about Allied actions, has since been refuted. Two of
this later books, Accident: The Death of General Sikorski (London: W.
Kimber, 1967), and The Destruction of Convoy PQ 17 (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1969), prompted legal action. Irving lost both cases and had to
pay damages and costs of about #45,000 in the libel suit on Convoy PQ 17.

   Irving first entered the headlines in 1970.  In July of that year, he
   was forced to apologize in the High Court of London for "making a
   wholly untrue and highly damaging statement about a woman writer." --
   not an auspicious start for someone who claims to be in pursuit of
   the truth.  Later that year, Irving was back in the headlines,
   concerning publication of his book, "The Destruction of Convoy PQ17".
   Ostensibly an expose of an ill-fated 1942 Arctic convoy headed for
   the Soviet Union during World War II, it eventually resulted in
   Irving being fined 40,000 British pounds for libel.  Irving's book
   faulted Captain John Broome, commander of the convoy at the time,
   saying he was guilty of "downright disobedience" and "downright
   desertion of the convoy." Broome brought suit against Irving for
   false statements, and won a judgment in August of 1970.  Irving's
   lawyers appealed, and lost in March, 1971.  The case is revealing
   because of what it says about Irving's abilities as a historian and
   his motives as an author.

   According to the Times of London, Irving showed a copy of the
   manuscript to Broome before publication.  Broome objected to the
   accuracy of some thirty passages in the book, and threatened to sue
   for libel if Irving did not make changes.  At that point, William
   Kimbers Ltd., Irving's publisher, notified him that they would not
   publish the book as it was then written.  Later, Irving published the
   book with another publisher.

   The court found that Irving "was warned from most responsible
   quarters that his book contained libels on Captain Broome...  To make
   [the book] a success he was ready to risk libel actions...
   Documentary evidence...  showed that [Irving] had deliberately set
   out to attack Captain Broome and in spite of the most explicit
   warnings persisted in his attack because it would help sell the
   book." The court labeled Irving's conduct as "outrageous and

   Irving's misrepresentations did not end with the publication of his
   book.  According to Cesarani, in 1979, a German publisher had to pay
   compensation to the father of Anne Frank after printing the German
   edition of Irving's book, Hitler's War.  Irving had claimed that Anne
   Frank's diary was a forgery.
      In light of publicity about David Irving, who wrote a book in
      which he claims the Holocaust did not happen, it should be pointed
      out that he makes a living writing books which cast doubt on
      historical events.  In 1970, his book, The Destruction of Convoy
      PQ17, caused an uproar, particularly in naval circles, and
      resulted in a court action against Irving for libel.  The action
      was taken by Capt.  John Broome, senior officer in charge of the
      naval escort.

      In July 1942, 36 merchant ships set sail from the United Kingdom
      for Murmansk with supplies for the besieged Russians.  In the
      Barents Sea, it [the convoy] came under heavy attack by German
      aircraft and U- boats.  The British admiralty, acting on
      intelligence reports (later proved false) that the battleship
      Tirpitz had put to sea, gave an order for the convoy to scatter
      while the naval escorts searched for the battleship.  Captain
      Broome complained that in Irving's book, the blame for the
      convoy's destruction was put on him, the inference being that the
      navy had abandoned the merchant ships.

      The judge found in Capt.  Broome's favor.  But by then, his
      reputation had been damaged by the questionable 'facts' written
      about the incident.  

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