MP backs de­nier’s ‘right to free speech’

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY CANDICE KRIEGER

LIB­ERAL DEMO­CRATIC home-af­fairs spokesman Chris Huhne has de­fended the right of con­victed Holo­caust-de­nier Fred­er­ick Toben to make an­ti­semitic com­ments and deny the Holo­caust.

Ger­man-born Toben, 64, faces ex­tra­di­tion from the UK to Ger­many un­der an EU ar­rest war­rant for al­legedly pub­lish­ing ma­te­rial on­line “of an an­ti­semitic and/or re­vi­sion­ist na­ture”.

He ap­peared at West­min­ster Mag­is­trates’ Court in cen­tral Lon­don last Fri­day, where he was re­manded in cus­tody ahead of a bail hear­ing to­day.

Mr Huhne, who was a mem­ber of the All-Party Par­lia­men­tary In­quiry into An­tisemitism in 2006, said Toben should not be ex­tra­dited be­cause the ar­rest war­rant con­flicted with Bri­tain’s tra­di­tion of free­dom of speech.

He said: “I don’t think he should be ex­tra­dited be­cause I don’t think the Euro­pean ar­rest war­rant is ap­pro­pri­ate in this type of case, which in­volved free­dom of speech. Al­though I com­pletely de­spise Dr Toben’s views on Holocaustdenial, which I find com­pletely of­fen­sive and rep­re­hen­si­ble, I do think that they do not in­cite peo­ple to vi­o­lence and there­fore they fall within the band of free­dom of speech that we nor­mally de­fend in this coun­try.

“I en­tirely ac­cept he is a Holo­caust­de­nier and I en­tirely dis­par­age his opin­ions, but I take the clas­si­cal lib­eral po­si­tion that, al­though I de­spise what he says, I will de­fend the right to say it.

“We all know why Ger­many and Aus­tria have Holo­caust-de­nial of­fences, but I don’t think that their par­tic­u­lar his­tory ought to be im­posed on us.

“In this coun­try, we have tra­di­tion­ally thought that if you have opin­ions peo­ple dis­agree with, then you should ar­gue them out and have an open de­bate — which has been sup­ported among many in the Jewish com­mu­nity. I think the racial and xeno­pho­bia cat- egory for an ar­rest war­rant is fine for of­fences which are in­cit­ing vi­o­lence and racial ha­tred, but I don’t think it’s ap­pro­pri­ate for a view about a his­tor­i­cal event — even if it is com­pletely wrong.”

Toben was en route from the USA to Dubai when he was ar­rested at Heathrow Air­port. In 1994, he was con­victed in­Ger­manyafter­pub­lish­ing­pam­phlets which de­nied the mass mur­der of Jews in gas cham­bers at Auschwitz.

On last week­end’s Ra­dio 4 To­day pro­gramme, Mr Huhne dis­cussed the case with Joshua Rozen­berg, le­gal ed­i­tor at the Daily Tele­graph. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Rozen­berg, there are var­i­ous ways in which Toben might be able to fight ex­tra­di­tion. He said: “There is a rea­son­able chance he won’t be ex­tra­dited. Just be­cause they are ask­ing, doesn’t mean they are go­ing to get. ”

Jour­nal­ist Me­lanie Phillips is also against Toben’s ex­tra­di­tion and said she was ap­palled at the po­lit­i­cal and le­gal de­vel­op­ments that have brought th­ese moves about. Writ­ing in the Daily Mail on Mon­day, she noted: “There are two fun­da­men­tal is­sues at stake here. First is the threat to the prin­ci­ple of free­dom of speech. Sec­ond is the ero­sion of Bri­tain’s power to up­hold its own his­toric com­mit­ment to that prin­ci­ple.”

Mean­while, con­victed Holo­caust­de­nier David Irv­ing has shown his sup­port for Toben, re­port­edly of­fer­ing him a place at his home in Wind­sor, Berk­shire. He also turned up at court last week to ex­press his sol­i­dar­ity.

Toben: faces bail hear­ing

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