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.
Irving’s appeal was denied. He was required to pay Lipstadt’s legal fees which forced him into bankruptcy in 2002.
In 2006, Irving pleaded guilty to the charge of denying the Holocaust in Austria, where Holocaust denial is a crime and where an arrest warrant was issued based on speeches he made in 1989. Irving knew that the warrant had been issued and that he was banned from Austria, but chose to go to Austria anyway. After he was arrested, Irving claimed in his plea that he changed his opinions on the Holocaust,
I said that then based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn't saying that anymore and I wouldn’t say that now. The Nazis did murder millions of Jews.