English military historian, discredited for his denial of Nazi atrocities against European Jews in World War II. Arrested in November 2005 in Austria, where Holocaust denial is a criminal offence, he was tried and sentenced in February 2006 to three years imprisonment.
In 1977 he produced his major work Hitler's War, which included the thesis that Adolf Hitler never ordered the annihilation of Europe's Jews. In future years he was to claim that Nazi gas chambers had not existed and that 6 million Jews had not died. Despite some plaudits for his scholarship, most commentators attacked his views and from the late 1980s he was banned in Germany, Austria, and Canada.
Born in Hutton, Essex, the son of a Royal Navy officer, he went to school in Brentwood before studying physics (but not graduating) at Imperial College, London. Having been rejected for service in the Royal Air Force, he moved to Germany, and on his return completed his first book The Destruction of Dresden in 1963, which became a bestseller. He continued writing about World War II themes through the 1960s, before being sued for libel in 1968 by a British naval captain.
In 2000 he sued US academic Deborah Lipstadt for libel after she described him as a Holocaust denier. He lost the case, being branded a racist and a fraud by the judge, and was bankrupted. In November 2005 he agreed to speak at a right-wing student meeting in Austria, despite an outstanding warrant there for his arrest. Three months later he was convicted after pleading guilty to Holocaust denial, although by then he had recanted and acknowledged the existence of the gas chambers.