Tuesday, February 28, 2006

BBC radio documentary on the 2000 libel trial

In the wake of Irving's Austrian conviction and sentence, on Feb. 26, BBC Radio 4 aired a 40 minute updated documentary (link below is to audio and will open in new window):
David Irving: The London Trial

The inside story of the famous libel trail in 2000 in which Irving sued the American historian Deborah Lipstadt for calling him a holocaust denier and falsifier of history.
In a Feb. 28 review of this program, Gillian Reynolds notes in The Telegraph:
No point arguing with deluded minds

There was much here I didn't know or hadn't remembered. So why, if the material was gripping enough for me to make four pages of notes, and given that I am an admirer of both Cockerell's and Hyman's work, did I feel this programme seemed out of place?

Perhaps if it had happened on Monday or Tuesday night, I wouldn't have. By Sunday, the story had had a lot of coverage and analysis. People, from Monday onwards, were saying that for an Austrian court to bring to trial an offence committed 17 years ago was dubious. This is not an argument I, personally, accept. If a law is broken, the culprit should be tried and, if guilty, sentenced.

My big reservation is about something different from timing. This was a good programme, dispassionately presented, but could anyone listen to it and be convinced that Irving was anything other than deluded? This newspaper, I seem to remember, took the decision not to describe him as a "historian" some years ago.

But if there really are political parties or religious activists who take him seriously and, like him, deny the existence or the record of the Nazi death camps, would they be persuaded otherwise by Cockerell's account of his humiliation in court six years ago? I doubt their response would be the one Radio 4 was seeking.

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