A British judge handed down a strongly worded decision against David Irving in his libel suit against American Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt. Irving had sued Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin Books, over her 1994 book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, because he said she had damaged his academic reputation and accused him of playing down the horrors of the Holocaust.
Under British libel law, Lipstadt, the Dorot Chair in Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, and Penguin had to prove not only that Irving distorted the historical record, but that the distortion was deliberate. High Court Judge Charles Gray said Lipstadt was justified in calling Irving a Holocaust denier because Irving "misrepresented and distorted" historical evidence and that he is "anti-Semitic and racist and that he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism." He also said that "Irving has for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated" history to paint Adolf Hitler in a favorable light.
Irving, the author of nearly 30 books, represented himself during the nine-week, nonjury hearing. He said he does not deny that Jews were killed by the Nazis, but challenges the number and manner of Jewish concentration camp deaths. He maintained during the trial that he had been the victim of a 30-year international campaign to destroy his reputation.
It is not clear yet whether Irving will appeal the verdict. If he does not, under British law, he must pay the defendants’ court costs, which may run into the millions of dollars.