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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.


There was vivid comment in the national press on preferences shown by the trial judge, as manifested in his summing up. The comment on occasion bordered on Contempt of Court.

Private Eye's comment on
Judge Lawton's Summing Up

Published February 27, 1970

PRIVATE EYE is Britain's leading scatalogical and satyrical weekly.
Justice Lawandorder sums up


GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY, I must warn you first of all that you must put aside any personal antipathy you may feel towards the defendant Mr Horst Wessel. Just because you may think, as I do, that he is a shifty two-faced rogue intent on discrediting a fine outstanding hero of the British war effort, that is no reason for being too hard on the fellow.

There are, as I see it, four questions on which you must decide.

Firstly, you must decide whether or not the plaintiff Capt. Myne-Sweeper should receive damages, and you may feel that the heroic Capt. Myne-Sweeper is more than entitled to them.

Secondly, you must reflect on whether the sum of £1 million would be sufficient to compensate this latter-day Nelson for what you may think is a shocking and totally unfounded slur upon his magnificent character.

Thirdly, I must ask you to consider whether such a sum is not totally inadequate when compared to the monstrous smear on his reputation made by a mercenary and totally unprincipled hack of the type you see before you in the shape of the defendant, the repulsive slit-eyed Mr Horst Wessel.

Fourthly, you must debate among yourselves whether the sum of £2 million would not in the light of the foregoing considerations be an altogether more appropriate amount to restore to the bemedalled hero of the seven seas some semblance of his reputation, now so grossly besmirched by this monster in human form, I refer of course to this twofaced wielder of the poison pen, the evil self-styled defendant whose name I can no longer bring myself to utter.

There is one other small matter of law on which I feel it is my duty to advise you. When you return to the box following your deliberations I shall put to you the question: "Do you find for the plaintiff or the defendant?" You should then reply, quite simply, "For the plaintiff" -- and by that I shall understand you to refer to the valiant old sea-dog Capt. Myne-Sweeper, who saved this country from her enemies during the dark days of the war.

You may now retire.


[ Index to PQ.17 Libel Action ]
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