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Tuesday, 18 April, 2000, 19:44 GMT 20:44 UK
BBC under fire for Irving interviews
David Irving
Jewish leaders are angry Mr Irving was given air time
Jewish leaders have criticised the BBC for continuing to give a voice to shamed historian David Irving after he was branded a "racist and anti-Semitic" by a High Court judge.

They are outraged that the historian has appeared on BBC2's Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme to defend himself.


It is surprising that the BBC regards it appropriate to offer a platform for someone whom the High Court has found to be an anti-Semite and a racist

Neville Nagler, Board of Deputies of British Jews
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has written to BBC director of news Tony Hall complaining about the corporation's integrity in giving Mr Irving a platform.

Mr Irving faces financial ruin since losing his libel action against American academic Professor Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books over his interpretation of the Holocaust.

Neville Nagler, director-general of the board of deputies of British Jews, said: "It is surprising that the BBC regards it appropriate to offer a platform for someone whom the High Court has found to be an anti-Semite and a racist.

Hatred

"The BBC sets the standard for journalistic integrity in this country, and we are concerned to know what standards it will be setting in the aftermath of the Irving case."

Mr Irving sued Prof Lipstadt over her 1994 book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.

He said it had generated waves of hatred against him.

Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Lipstadt: Her views of David Irving were vindicated in court
He maintained he was not a Holocaust denier, although he did question the scale of the Nazi destruction of the Jewish population and their use of gas chambers.

But Irving lost the case after the judge accepted Prof Lipstadt and Penguin's plea of justification.

Mr Irving was in defiant mood when he was interviewed on the Today programme following his defeat.

He vowed to "carry on ploughing my straight furrow across the country".

But the corporation says rather than giving Mr Irving a platform, it had challenged him on his opinions and asked questions many viewers and listeners wanted to see put to him.

A BBC spokesman said it had tried to examine the significance of the case.

He said the corporation had never offered Mr Irving a platform for his views.

"Instead we sought to hold those views up to rigorous scrutiny in order to reveal them for what they are," he said.

"We recognise the sensitivity of the case, and throughout our reporting, sought to reflect the judge's comments about David Irving's views."

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