London, Saturday, August 11, 2001
AMONG other complaints, your reviewer Professor Bogdanor writes (Aug. 11, page 32) that my second volume of Churchill's War seeks to portray Churchill as "a coward". I sometimes wonder if reviewers read the book they are sent. That word does not appear in any of the 1,200 pages: on the contrary, I refer to Winston's courage in undertaking his wartime flights around the Middle East, to Moscow, and to the United States.
Professor Bogdanor has however his own reasons for mistrusting me. He has somehow obtained the US edition of what he calls the "magnificent book" by Richard Evans, professor of modern history at Cambridge (right), on the Irving vs. Penguin Books Ltd & Lipstadt action; he quotes extensively from it, but fails to mention that this neutral expert, on whom the Court depended so heavily, was paid in excess of £70,181 by the defendants -- an amount which Mr Justice Gray later admitted shocked even him; and that Prof. Evans's own U.K. publishers William Heinemann have refused to print his book because it is manifestly libellous, i.e. defamatory and untrue.
Thus on one page of his measured, objective, magnificent account Evans writes of "Irving's seemingly limitless capacity for telling lies, distorting the truth, and insulting the memory of the dead" and on the next, "For all of us he became someone with whom the least contact was defiling."
In order to stay in the game in the High Court, the same Prof. Evans, your readers will find, had to assert precisely the opposite under cross examination by me on February 10 last year [Transcript of Day 18], testifying on oath that he was quite neutral toward me:
He said this at the same time as he was writing his book. It could hardly be more blatant. There is a word for that kind of behaviour in the witness box, as both Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer now know.
To buttress the allegation that I habitually misuse sources, Prof. Bogdanor appropriates the disbelief, first expressed by Andrew Roberts in The Evening Standard back in May, that I can possibly know the content of the mysterious box 24 of the Walter Monckton papers in the Bodleian [Library]. When I last used those papers, in 1987, boxes 23 and 24 were firmly sealed until the end of the [20th] century. Box 23 was opened in 1999, box 24 is still closed.
Says Bogdanor: "The safest course is to accept nothing Irving says unless independently corroborated." Well, according to The Independent, March 5, 2000 ("QUEEN MUM WANTED PEACE WITH HITLER"), a "government source" had revealed that box 24 was being kept closed because the correspondence between Monckton (the Royal family's lawyer) and Lord Halifax revealed Her Majesty's deep hostility to the war faction around Churchill. Just as I said.
Your reviewer sneers: "Box 23 was released last year. . . it contains nothing on Hitler's peace offer. Box 24 remains closed, but contains quite unrelated material." (How does the your reviewer know, one might ask?) The Independent was told otherwise. I am thus corroborated, and independently. Is it safer to accept what I say now?
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