Posted Thursday, November 20, 2001

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London, Tuesday, November 20, 2001

The Times Diary

Irvine error

WITH Lord Irvine of Lairg's complaint to the Press complaints commission regarding the revelations in last week's papers about his son Alistair's crack addiction still under investigation, only a fool would try writing another story about his children.

I learn that David, Lord Irvine's eldest son, suffered some embarrassment a little while ago while a making a documentary for Channel 4 in Austria. Unfortunately, when people aren't confusing David Irvine for his father, they frequently observe the similarity between his name and that of a certain British historian who has a reputation, in the words of Mr Justice Gray, for being "an anti-Semitic, and racist and (associated) with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism."

This was the mistake the Viennese authorities made when they sent around a squad of policemen to apprehend Irvine with an outstanding warrant for David Irving's arrest. When they arrived at the hotel, the policemen congratulated themselves for catching their man red-handedly filling his room with documents on Hitler.

"I was working on a documentary film about the lives of Hitler and Stalin," Irvine explains.

The matter was soon sorted out, however, so there is a happy ending. Or there is, at least, until his father finished reading this story and writes another letter to the Press Complaints Commission.


DAVID IRVING, the writer, allows himself a belly laugh ...

... at the misfortune suffered by his near namesake.


Lord Irvine is a controversial figure in the British legal system, a crony and former law partner of the prime minister's, and now as Lord Chancellor the much-loved head of the entire British legal system.

There is indeed said to be an outstanding Interpol arrest warrant out for me (the writer) in Austria, issued by the Salzburger Landespolizei on November 8, 1989, the day the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.

I had completed two thirds of an Austrian lecture tour, with the express consent and agreement of the Austrian police, whose officers noddingly tape-recorded every one of my speeches and gave them post facto their blessing. All went well until Vienna, where the Jüdische Gemeinde under a Mr Gross organised violent staged communist demonstrations against my appearance, engaging hundreds if not thousands of riot police in the city centre near Schloss Schönbrunn. Questions were asked in the Austrian Parliament.

The Justice minister defended me, but that was not good enough. Within hours a phoney arrest warrant had been issued by complaisant officials with the intention of preventing me ever speaking again.

My own lawyers issued a complaint against Mr Gross for public incitement to violence, but it will surprise nobody that no further steps were taken on that. Since then, the international Jewish community has incessantly reminded the Austrian government of its duty to arrest me if I cross their borders. For some years I repeatedly did so, for example when researching the biography of Dr Joseph Goebbels -- e.g. in July 1993, to interview Lida Baarova (below) -- and the police happily looked the other way. Yes, these are exciting times to be a writer of modern history.

Irving interviews Baarova in Austria, 1993

Irving interviews Baarova in Austria, 1993

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 Nov 24. 1989: After a communist-inspired riot in Vienna led the socialist government to issue an arrest warrant against him Mr Irving thanks his Austrian lawyer
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 On March 10, 1994 the Austrian Government tells Australia that an Arrest Warrant was issued against Mr Irving on Nov 8, 1989: | [ and original German text]
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