“A chilling spectre at the table of justice”

From the introduction to Deborah Lipstadt’s book “History on Trial”:
‘[Following Deborah Lipstadt’s victory in the libel trial brought against her by David Irving,] most commentary in Britain was enthusiastic. But two professional historians dissented. Donald Cameron Watt wrote a column for the Evening Standard, published the afternoon of the judgment, that was headlined ‘History needs David Irving’. Watt said, ‘Show me one historian who has not broken into a cold sweat at the thought of undergoing similar treatment’ – similar to the trial’s exposure of Irving’s lies. The next morning in The Daily Telegraph, Sir John Keegan, an eminent military historian, said Judge Gray had “decided that an all consuming knowledge of a vast body of material does not excuse faults in interpreting it.”
Watt and Keegan wrote as if Deborah Lipstadt had initiated this trial. But it was David Irving who sued her, who forced her either to swallow his lies or spend five years of her life proving him to be what he was, a racist faker. How can we explain the reaction of Watt and Keegan? Was it fostered by resentment of an outsider, someone who was not a member of the club, who was Jewish, a woman?
Whatever informed their perverse response, it was a chilling spectre at the table of justice.’
(From Anthony Lewis’ introduction to Deborah Lipstadt’s book, History on Trial [Harper Perennial, 2006], p. xv. Some minor edits have been made.)
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