VilliersonqtShadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Theresa Villiers MP, defended Austria’s decision to jail David Irving for ‘Holocaust denial’.

Speaking on BBC1’s Question Time (pictured above with fellow panellist Art Malik), the Tory MP said that the Holocaust was a uniquely depraved event in human history.  She highlighted the fact that six million people had been exterminated in an industrial killing process because of their Judaism, their disability, their ethnicity or their homosexuality.  She discussed the rise of anti-Semitism in Britain, including in her own north London constituency, and the Iranian president’s desire to wipe Israel off the face of the map.  She insisted that she was speaking in a personal capacity and not for the party.  Her position received a distinctly lukewarm reception from the audience.

Daniel Finkelstein, a former Tory candidate, took a different view from Ms Villiers in yesterday’s Times.  Mr Finkelstein, himself Jewish, wrote:

"David Irving should not be in jail. We can do better than that. I wish I could tell you that the Irving trial is the only way in which my belief in the power of truth is being tested. But it isn’t. Across the Middle East now, Holocaust denial has become commonplace. It was not difficult last week to spot the banners reading “God Bless Hitler”. The President of the Palestinian Authority denied the full truth of the Holocaust in his PhD. I wish I could tell you that never again will anyone be able to kill millions of Jews, but as we speak Iran is well down the nuclear path and threatens to eradicate Israel.  David Irving is the least of our troubles. But through it all we must hold fast to this: that we must always be ready to meet force with force, but lies — lies we fight with truth."