Intense lobbying at the highest level of British politics was behind the official disruption of a revisionist meeting in November 1991, hosted at Chelsea Old Town Hall by the British historian David Irving with speakers including the late Prof. Robert Faurisson and Fred Leuchter.
The extent of this high-level lobbying can now be revealed after H&D accessed newly released documents from then Prime Minister John Major’s Downing Street files.
During the summer of 1991 staff from the Board of Deputies of British Jews made informal contact with Major’s private secretary William Chapman to arrange a personal meeting with the Prime Minister, who had succeeded Margaret Thatcher at the end of 1990. This was followed by a letter on 5th September 1991 from the Board’s president, Judge Israel Finestein, requesting a meeting at which:
“there are a number of major issues which are of concern to the community and which we would like to raise with you, so that you and your colleagues in Government can be acquainted with the feelings of the Jewish community on these topics. The matters which I have in mind include, but are not confined to, such questions as the distribution of anti-Semitic literature in this country; the attitude of the authorities towards holocaust revisionist ‘historians’ (including those who seek to enter the United Kingdom from other countries in order to publicise their odious views)…”
At previous such meetings, Jewish leaders had prioritised matters affecting Israel and the treatment of Jews in the Soviet bloc: now, for the first time in the postwar records of such meetings, “anti-semitism” within the UK was the top priority, alongside historical revisionism. A meeting was arranged for November 19th at Downing Street.
This was in the context of British historian David Irving’s increasingly outspoken revisionism – Irving had published and contributed a foreword to a British edition of The Leuchter Report in 1989, based on research carried out at the alleged extermination camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau by American execution technology expert Fred Leuchter.
The revisionist critique of orthodox ‘Holocaust’ history had been gaining ground since the 1970s, largely thanks to the pioneering scholarship of the French expert in documentary analysis, Prof. Robert Faurisson, and the American Professor of electrical engineering Arthur Butz. During the 1980s revisionism attracted enormous publicity thanks to the work of the Institute for Historical Review in the USA, and especially due to the efforts of German-Canadian artist and publisher Ernst Zündel, who faced multiple criminal trials in Canada and was eventually deported to Germany – spending a total of seven years in Canadian and German jails for the ‘crime’ of questioning historical orthodoxy.
Professor Faurisson in Paris for one of his many court appearances Prof. Faurisson later summarised part of the revisionist case:
“…It is accurate to say that the Germans employed Zyklon (made from a base of hydrocyanic acid and in use since 1922) to safeguard the health, by disinfection, of large numbers of civilians, troops, prisoners, and internees. But they never used Zyklon in order to kill anyone, let alone put to death throngs of human beings at once; because of the draconian precautions for the use of hydrogen cyanide gas, the gassing of inmates as it is alleged to have been done at Auschwitz and other camps would, besides, have been fundamentally impossible.”
[see the obituary of Prof. Robert Faurisson in the current Jan-Feb 2019 edition of H&D]
In 1990 France had enacted a special law (known as the ‘Gayssot law’) designed to criminalise Faurisson’s work. The following year, a Downing Street document prepared for Prime Minister Major before his meeting with Jewish leaders conveyed the views of the Board of Deputies and the Conservative Friends of Israel: “they are concerned that the UK may become the focal point for holocaust revisionism because of its being outlawed in other European countries and because the American revisionist organisation, The Institute of Historical Review, is facing financial problems.”
It was in this context that the Board of Deputies (backed by senior backbencher Sir John Wheeler, who chaired the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee) asked Major’s Home Secretary Kenneth Baker to use his powers to exclude Leuchter and Faurisson from coming to Britain as guests of Irving, who intended to put on a series of revisionist meetings.
The Downing Street files record:
“In the event, Faurisson could not be excluded because he holds dual French and British citizenship, and as a British citizen he has an unimpeded right in law to visit the United Kingdom. However, the Home Secretary decided that Leuchter should be excluded from the United Kingdom on the grounds that his presence here would not be conducive to the public good.”
The same considerations applied when Robert Faurisson made later visits to London – including 1998 when he addressed a meeting in Croydon organised by Paul Ballard before testifying for the defence at the trial of Mr Ballard and Nick Griffin; 2008 when he spoke at a meeting organised by Lady Michèle Renouf following the historic legal victory over the German government in a failed extradition case against Dr Fredrick Töben; and last year when he spoke at a meeting hosted by H&D in his native town of Shepperton the day before his death.
Kenneth Baker, the Home Secretary who ordered Fred Leuchter’s exclusion from the UK, seen here at a Tory Party conference with John Major’s predecessor Margaret Thatcher.
Even so, Downing Street officials were evidently concerned that the Board of Deputies intended to push for wider banning actions. They briefed the Prime Minister on what line to take in response:
“The Home Secretary may personally direct that an individual be excluded from the United Kingdom if his presence is deemed not to be conducive to the public good. This power is used very sparingly and only after the arguments in support of free speech have been very carefully weighed against those on the undesirability of giving a platform to objectionable views and the risk of public disorder. In the recent case of Leuchter the Home Secretary felt it would cause grievous offence both to the Jewish and non-Jewish community if he was admitted to the UK and, therefore, decided that he should be excluded.
“There is a particular policy objection to using the exclusion powers merely to suppress the voicing in the United Kingdom of views that are offensive, but not unlawful. There are a number of occasions on which the Home Secretary is asked by various pressure groups to ban the visit of a foreigner because it is felt that one or another section of society will be offended by his visit. It would be very undesirable if the Home Secretary were put in the position of repeatedly having to defend a decision either to exclude or not to exclude particular individuals on the basis of their views alone. There are good grounds, therefore, for confining the use of the exclusion powers to those circumstances where clear objective factors can be adduced in support of exclusion, such as risks to public order or a previous criminal background which makes an individual’s presence in the United Kingdom undesirable.” The contradiction in Downing Street’s position is evident: while accepting it would be “very undesirable” to exclude people from the UK merely for expressing “offensive, but not unlawful” views, these same officials were happy to recommend the exclusion of Leuchter and (had it not been for his dual French-British citizenship) Faurisson as well. Neither of these gentlemen could be credibly presented as a threat to public order.
Judith Chaplin, head of the PM’s political office, minuted that the Jewish leaders were “not a group to be upset” Perhaps part of the answer lies in a brief handwritten note buried in the midst of the newly released file. The head of the Prime Minister’s political office, Judith Chaplin, asked for her views on the forthcoming meeting with Jewish leaders, minuted: “my input would merely be: not a group to be upset because of party links.” On January 19th five officials of the Board of Deputies led by Judge Finestein duly met with Prime Minister Major. According to official minutes now released to the National Archives: “Judge Finestein made it clear that the Board regarded the meeting as private; the members present would not talk to the Press afterwards. “Judge Finestein expressed appreciation of the Government’s decision to keep Fred Leuchter out of the country. The board was of course concerned about the activities of M. Le Pen. Whenever Le Pen visited a foreign country, as in Madrid recently, he stirred up fascism in his wake. He hoped that the Government would encourage other European Governments to take a common line.”
Leuchter was ordered to leave the stage a few minutes into his speech, and was hauled off to a nearby police station where he was held overnight without charge, then deported on a flight back to the USA the following day. A few weeks after this Chelsea meeting, French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen visited London where he addressed a dinner at the Charing Cross Hotel hosted by a conservative group called Western Goals, whose officials included the late Jonathan Bowden.
Some documents from police and security agencies are redacted from the published version of the government files. In relation to Jewish leaders’ concern over ‘anti-semitism’ in the UK the Prime Minister’s office was informed that: “The Metropolitan Police Special Branch assess the threat to Jewish interests as low. We continue to monitor the position. Extreme right-wing organisations are not thought to pose a significant threat at this time because their attention and activities are focused more on localised racial issues and their long-term opposition to coloured immigration into the UK.”
Judge Israel Finestein, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews when they lobbied Prime Minister John Major in 1991 Special Branch listed what they described as the “main anti-semitic organisations” in the UK, but aside from the BNP, National Front and League of St George most of those listed were (to H&D‘s knowledge) little more than one-man bands or non-existent organisations invented as fronts for the distribution of certain literature. The file highlights the successful prosecution of Lady Birdwood earlier that year, and an ongoing case against Colin Jordan, Britain’s best-known national socialist.
In addition to their specific concerns about revisionism, the Board of Deputies were lobbying at this time for further strengthening of Britain’s race laws, and had revived their call for a ‘group defamation’ law.
The next edition of H&D will contain a detailed analysis of this lobbying effort, exposing the continuing campaign by this powerful lobby group further to restrict Britons’ traditional liberties.
Unsurprisingly, part of the 1991 delegation to Downing Street was Neville Nagler, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, who in his earlier career as a Home Office civil servant had been partly responsible for the drafting of Britain’s developing race laws. Nagler was a prime example of the so-called ‘revolving door’ syndrome, where a politician or civil servant steps down from his role in government, only to re-enter the same public buildings as a lobbyist for special interest groups!
Fred Leuchter (right) with Robert Faurisson
UPDATE: Fred Leuchter adds –
I would like to comment on my stay in London that evening. I was removed by a very friendly police department (all wishing to shake the hand of a man who makes execution equipment) and was treated well by the station Superintendent whom personally conveyed my wife to the Chelsea station. I was allowed to remain in the lobby with my wife until the shift changed at Midnite.
The second shift Superintendent did not know what to do with me, but did not want me cluttering up his lobby. Thereafter, I was thrown into a cell with a psychopath who was in for assault, but who happened to like me. I was then removed to a cell with a petty thief for fear that I would be injured in the cell with the former.
At 2 AM I was removed by two of Her Majesty’s Immigration Officers who interrogated me under a hot bright light. It looked a scene from a B Movie. I was returned to my cell and returned for the “Third Degree” two more times. I requested to speak to the US Consul or Ambassador but was refused. Her Majesty’s Idiots taped everything.
At 6 AM I was again removed from my cell by a third Bureaucrat who advised me that he did not particularly like me but that my rights had been violated by the earlier interrogations and being held incommunicado. He told me that their plans were to deport me to France (after 18 days) who would deport me to Belgium (after 18 days) who would deport me to Germany (after 18 days) who would finally deport me the USA (after 18 days). Apparently International Law allowed me to be held for 18 days for investigation.
The new Her Majesty’s agent was really upset when he heard the tapes of my interrogation and felt that British Law was being violated by Her Majesty’s earlier Buffoons, and he intended to right this wrong. I was taken into custody by two British Policemen who put me on an Airplane (at Her Majesty’s expense) and sent home. To say the least, it was a very interesting evening.
Chelsea Old Town Hall, venue for the meeting in November 1991 interrupted by the Metropolitan Police who arrested Fred Leuchter