Legal firm 'quits' Irving case on ideological grounds
By Bernard Josephs
A FIRM of London lawyers hired by David Irving to represent him in his appeal against the High Court libel judgment branding him a Holocaust-denier has withdrawn from the case, he said this week.
A letter which the right-wing author said he had received from Goldsmiths solicitors, of Jermyn Street, informed him that one of the firm's partners objected to representing him on "ideological grounds."
Mr Irving who was described by Mr Justice Gray as an anti-Semite and a racist in last month's libel judgment -- told the JC be believed that the objection had been raised by a Jewish lawyer.[*]
It was such "behaviour by individual Jews that leads to anti-Semitism," he said.
The firm had already acted for Mr Irving in questioning the costs against him, estimated at £2 million, following his failed libel action against American academic Deborah Lipstadt and her publishers, Penguin Books.
The case had arisen from her book, "Denying the Holocaust," in which she accused him of twisting history and seeking to sanitise Hitler's attitude towards the Jews.
In the letter to Mr Irving, one of the law firm's partners, Sarah Rees, reportedly warned him:
"Unfortunately I have to inform you that one [of] my partners has since raised an objection to the firm representing you based on ideological grounds.
The letter suggested Mr Irving should "immediately" seek to instruct another firm of solicitors to represent him in his appeal.
According to the letter, neither Ms Rees nor the firm's senior partner shared their colleague's views on taking the case.
But she added: "We are a small firm of solicitors and have to respect the views and beliefs of a particular partner on this matter."
A spokesperson for Goldsmiths declined to comment.
Mr Irving took the view that the law firm 'was not in a position to get rid of me. He felt that he could, if he wished, force it to act on his behalf.
However, a Law Society spokesman said there were a number of "good reasons" under which a solicitor could end a relationship with a client. This included a situation in which there was a "serious breakdown in confidence between them."
Meanwhile, at last week's costs hearing, Mr Irving was ordered to pay £150,000 on account within six weeks towards the defence bill in his libel case.
Andrew Davies, for Mr Irving, said that if he had to make an initial payment of £500,000, as requested by Penguin, he would have been bankrupted and unable to conduct his appeal.
London, May 12, 2000