Cambridge college removes David Irving books from display following complaint

Olivia Rudgard
David Irving's biography of Winston Churchill was openly available in the college library, and has now been moved to a 'closed store' - Alik Keplicz/AP

A Cambridge college has removed a David Irving book from open display in its library after a visiting Jewish academic complained. 

Churchill College, Cambridge said that Irving's biography of its namesake Winston Churchill would now be held in a "closed access" area and borrowers would only be able to read it on request. 

Dr Irene Lancaster, formerly a teaching fellow in Jewish history at Manchester University, complained after seeing books written by the Holocaust denier on display.

Dr Irene Lancaster with Canon Guy Wilkinson and Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, at the event - Credit: Keith Jones

She said: "They certainly weren't hidden away. I didn't pick any out - they were sticking out like reference books."

In an email to Dr Lancaster, the university's office of external affairs said the book was kept "so that others can challenge and refute" Irving's ideas, but added that it would nevertheless be removed from open display.

The email, which was unsigned, said: "Historians who wish to access them for specific scholarly reasons to do with the biography of Churchill will be able to do so, but only by request. The books will not be openly available on the shelves. 

"We do not wish inadvertently to suggest that we endorse Irving in any way – we emphatically do not."

Dr Lancaster was visiting the university to launch her book at an event hosted by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. 

She said that reports the following day of Holocaust-denying leaflets being handed out in the city prompted her to make the complaint. 

A spokesman for the university said: "Holding banned or challenged books in no way endorses the views or scholarship of the authors. Rather, they are accessible to scholars to allow them the opportunity to challenge and refute their contents.

THE NEW WING OF THE CHURCHILL ARCHIVES CENTRE AT CHURCHILL COLLEGE,CAMBRIDGE - Credit: BRIAN SMITH

The spokesman added that the library was used by college members and visiting academics and not the general public and therefore the book had not been on “public display”.

Dr Lancaster said she was "delighted" by the move and contacted her former employer Manchester University to ask them to do the same. 

However, a spokesman for the university said that Irving's books would remain openly available in its library.

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