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David Irving

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The PQ.l7 Libel Action, 1970

Captain J E Broome, vs. Cassell & Co Ltd and David Irving

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PQ.17 bookCaptain J E Broome, DSO, RN, the escort commander in this 1942 North Russian convoy disaster, sued David Irving in libel after the publication by Cassell and Co. Ltd. of this book in October 1968. The case came to trial in February 1970; after seventeen days the Jury awarded Broome what was then one of the largest sums of damages, including punitive damages, in history.



David Irving: a Note for his Defence Counsel, February 1, 1971


correcting courtroom falsehoods of the Plaintiff's Counsel.

1st February 1971


An Important Point to Challenge in Mr Parker's Speech

Mr Parker stated in terms that having been advised by Broome and Roskill that the book libelled them, I decided to withdraw the book from William Kimber Ltd and offer it to Cassell's. I fully understand his reasons for arguing like this.

In fact Roskill never stated that the book libelled him. And a potted history of events (which can be amplified from the transcript of my diary supplied) shows that the decision to change to Cassell's was made weeks before we ever heard from Broome or anybody else:

  • 13th October (1966): MS first shown to Kimber's [Francis] de Salis. At this time we were aware of Broome's prickly nature; I suggested we ask Roskill to report on MS; this was approved.

  • 27th October: Left complete draft MS with Kimber's, said I was planning to ask Brooms to read the MS as far as he was concerned. But a verbal row developed that day with Mr. Kimber (on unrelated matters) and "Upon much thought decided best course of action would be to take PQ.17 manuscript away from Kimber's and ask Cassell's when they could publish it." (-- Diary).

  • 30th October: On receiving half-annual Statement from Kimber I discovered he had cheated me on foreign rights and royalties, and I wrote him a furious letter protesting about this.

  • 2nd November: On next meeting with Kimber, a furious row broke in his office; he refused to admit he had cheated me. That evening I wrote to Cassell's (for first time since October 1965) asking them to publish PQ.17 as it then was, as "a bone of contention has arisen over certain foreign rights" with Kimber, (This letter is available).

  • 6th November: The manuscript was first shown to Captain Broome.

  • 7th November: He telephoned to declare to so that it was libellous.

  • 14th November: The reader's report of Capt. Roskill was received and confidentially shown to me.

These facts were made known to Defence Counsel, especially Mr. Kempster, during the lower hearing. I feel they should be made thoroughly known.

A corollary is that in February 1967, I was granted access to Broome's report and decided I could dispense with his and Roskill 's services.

(2) For what it is worth, Mr Parker was also incorrect in stating that Günter Karweina's book was published before I started research in 1962. I started research in 1962 to aid write first a series, then a book on the convoy; the book was published in 1964 by Mosaik Verlag, Hamburg; to my astonishment I found he had used large chunks of material written verbatim by me, without any acknowledgement. When I gained permission from the magazine who had commissioned the series of articles, to re-use my research for my book, Karweina claimed for some time it infringed his copyright.

(David Irving)

[ Index to PQ.17 Libel Action ]
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