Nazi defender pulls out of SOAS lecture

By Jessica Elgot, February 2, 2012
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Jacques Vergès has defended Nazi war criminals, Holocaust deniers and Palestinian terrorists

Jacques Vergès has defended Nazi war criminals, Holocaust deniers and Palestinian terrorists

A controversial lawyer who made his name defending Nazis, Holocaust deniers and Palestinian terrorists, has pulled out of a talk at SOAS tomorrow.

Anti-fascist campaigners, SOAS professor Colin Shindler and MPs including Denis MacShane, Lee Scott and Mike Freer expressed outrage when it was announced that French barrister Jacques Vergès, known as the Devil's Advocate, would speak at the London university. Mr Vergès has developed bronchitis and will now not travel to London.

The defence by Mr Vergès, 86, of Lyon Gestapo head Klaus Barbie and pro-Palestinian terrorist Carlos the Jackal was financed by Francois Genoud, a Swiss Nazi who was the executor of Joseph Goebbels's will.

The Union of Jewish Students and SOAS JSoc had been planning to place protest banners and memorial candles outside the lecture theatre before Shabbat.

Anti-fascist magazine Searchlight had called on the Home Secretary to ban Mr Verges from the country. Editor Gerry Gable said he believed the "drop-out" was a victory. "We are proud to share in this victory with all those who rallied to the call to stop him."

A SOAS spokeswoman said: "Jacques Vergès, one of the key speakers at tomorrow night’s event has developed bronchitis and been advised by his doctor not to travel to London. As a result, he has had to withdraw from the 'International Justice' event tomorrow"

His replacement at the panel discussion will be criminal law specialist Steven Kay QC who has participanted in cases concerning Slobodan Milosevic, Guantanamo Bay and the Beslan school hostage crisis. He will speak alongside international lawyer Martti Koskenniemi.

Last updated: 4:13pm, February 2 2012