One of the most unusual features of the trial was that David
Irving chose to defend himself--no lawyers--against one of the most powerful
and expensive legal teams the other side could put together. Princess Diana's
own law firm assembled the Lipstadt team--it was truly a David and Goliath
scenario--one brave little man striding naked into the ring against the
biggest legal guns and armor that the deep-pocket defense team could fit
into one courtroom.
Another David-Goliath detail was that both sides called upon expert witnesses
who are required by law to be scrupulously neutral--in a British court an
expert witness takes oath to provide expertise from their specialty without
prejudice to either side. The experts that Irving called to the stand--some
of them hostile to his cause!--were unpaid. The experts employed by Lipstadt
& Company were paid--big bucks!. For instance, in addition to his academic
salary, Professor Richard Evans, the primary expert witness called to the
stand by Lipstadt & Company, pocketed more than $140,000 -- which financial
windfall must surely have laid a heavy burden on Evans's moral struggle
to provide under oath an expert testimony unprejudiced to either side. Lipstadt's
primary expert on the holocaust, Professor Robert Jan Van Pelt, received
more than $200,000 for his testimony.
The many millions of dollars amassed by Lipstadt's legal defense team to
fight the lawyerless Irving were supplied by film-maker Steven Spielberg
and financier Edgar Bronfman. Many of Spielberg's popular movies celebrate
the triumph of the underdog but in real life Spielberg threw his weight
on the side of the mighty Empire against the skillful lone rebel.
Another detail: Throughout the trial, which lasted two months, Deborah Lipstadt
sat in silence--letting her large and impressive legal team do the talking
for her. David Irving reports that Lipstadt refused to even meet his eye
whenever he glanced in her direction.
As an intellectual sports fan it seemed to me that Irving's advantage was
his immense knowledge of history, his lightning quick wit, and his formidable
power to clarify complex issues. The main tactics of the Lipstadt crew seemed
to be obfuscation, misdirection and the rhetorical fallacy of "asserting
the consequent"--for instance "proving" that Irving was an
antisemite by merely saying so repeatedly. "Bait and switch" and
"straw man" fallacies were also shamelessly deployed by Lipstadt's
lawyers with predictable regularity.
Because of the blizzard of irrelevant facts and opinions generated by Lipstadt
& Company, one is apt to experience painful snowblindness after reading
a few pages of transcripts. My advice to anyone entering the Irving-Lipstadt
snowstorm is to read Irving's final statement first (DAY 32: PAGE 49--PAGE
221 "May it please the court") from beginning to end, compare
Irving's summary with Richard Rampton's which precedes it, and then dive
into the trial itself.
For those considering truth-seeking as a possible career, I recommend reading
Irving's account of his unpleasant experiences at the hands of certain truth-haters
(DAY 32: PAGE 110--PAGE 144). These people who will not stoop to debate
Irving in public will yet stoop in private to planting false evidence against
Irving in immigration computers, resulting in his enforced deportation from
Canada. And that's not the least of the dirty tricks "these people"
have worked on Irving for daring to speak his own version of the truth.
Don't get me wrong. By "these people" I mean ANYONE who suppresses
another's speech in foul and underhanded ways, no matter what their race,
creed, color or country of origin. In denouncing those lower life forms
who are the enemies of free speech, Nick Herbert is an equal-opportunity
One of the biggest surprises for Nick in this trial was his discovery of
media bias. Although the American papers did not cover the trial--assuming
no doubt correctly that the spiritual heirs of George Washington, John Adams
and Thomas Jefferson were more interested in game shows and fictitious violence
than a dull historical debate on the issues for which more than a million
American fathers and brothers shed their blood--the Irving-Lipstadt trial
was dutifully covered in England and in the foreign press. Moreover David
Irving took the trouble to publish in full on his web site every press account
he could get his hands on. ("Where does this man get his energy? He
works like a bull. And still has time to flirt with the ladies." The
members of our Olympian Club were constantly astonished at David Irving's
great stamina both in and outside of the courtroom.)
So in addition to the daily transcripts--which were mirrored on other websites
with running commentary by webmasters like Rae West (see below) who attended
the trial in person--one had the opportunity to witness how the world's
major print media (America excepted) presented this important trial to their
When I saw the picture of the trial presented by the press and compared
it to my picture of the trial gathered from reading the transcripts and
long conversations with members of the Olympian club, I was flabbergasted.
It became obvious to me that the world press was reporting on a different
trial going on in some alternative universe, not the trial I was watching
(via the Internet) going on in London. The world press was obviously biased
against Irving and was setting him up for a big fall.
One example of how this bias appeared to me. "Neutral expert"
Evans would lay out his charges purporting to show how shoddy a historian
David Irving could be. Under cross-examination by David Irving, the foundations
of Evans's accusations would crumble away, and it would slowly become obvious
that the historical methods of Evans and his cronies were at least as shoddy
as those supposedly practiced by Irving. Even Judge Gray, the man who was
to later to render the verdict, was moved to admire David Irving's skill
at cross examination.
Judge Gray also admitted how surprised he was at the failure of historians
to produce a single unambiguous document clearly linking Hitler to a Jewish
extermination program out of millions of German documents including secretly
decoded intercepts between principles in the concentration camps.
After a day of such accusations and cross-examinations, one of the papers
would report that Richard Evans had accused David Irving of such and such
malfeasance--but neglect to report Irving's masterful rebuttal. So reading
only the newspapers one got the impression that David Irving was being exposed
as a lousy historian where from my point of view (as a spectator in the
stands) it was clear that David Irving was not only defending his reputation
but hitting back hard.
Irving estimated that on days when he was being questioned, eight times
as many news reports appeared compared to reports on the days when Irving
himself was doing the questioning. So what seemed like a fair fight on the
Internet, appeared to newspaper readers like a one-sided gang bang.