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Holocaust denier found in Fife loses extradition fight

Vincent Reynouard, who had been working as a private tutor in Scotland, is wanted in his home country over hate speech claims.

French Holocaust denier in Anstruther
Holocaust denier Vincent Reynouard. Image: Campaign Against Antisemitism.

A Holocaust denier has lost a legal battle to prevent his extradition from Scotland to his French homeland to face criminal charges arising from offensive videos posted online.

Vincent Reynouard, 54, is wanted by the authorities in France, where he is accused of inciting hatred and denying the occurrence of the Holocaust against Jewish people in the Second World War.

He was apprehended in Anstruther, Fife, where he had been working as a private tutor, in November 2022.

He fought and lost a challenge in Edinburgh Sheriff Court last year to sending him back to face prosecution and the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh has now rejected his application for leave to appeal.

Holocaust denial is ‘gross insult’

Scotland’s senior judge the Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, said: “The denial of the holocaust is a gross insult to the members of the Jewish and other communities whose members perished in Auschwitz and Birkenau.”

The senior judge said the same applied to those living with the memory of an SS massacre perpetrated in the French village of Oradour in the Second World War, about which Reynouard’s comments were made and where pro-Reynouard graffiti was found.

Lord Carloway
Lord Carloway.

Lord Carloway said: “It is not necessary to be a member of the relevant communities to be grossly offended by such statements; any reasonable person would be.

“The other statements by the appellant about the Jewish community are anti-Semitic racism.”

The judge said although it is not an offence to hold such views or to express them in certain contexts, it was a breach of Communications Act legislation to communicate them to the public on the internet.

“This is the modern world in which posting videos on YouTube or social media can have a significant practical and enduring consequence relative to the behaviour of others.

“It is not too difficult, especially in the present climate of tension in several parts of the world, to envisage that a repeated publication of anti-Semitic, or other racist material could provoke serious disturbance by certain sections of society.”

Support for Hitler

A French investigating judge issued a warrant for Reynouard’s arrest in 2022, setting out three offences arising from seven videos he posted online between September 2019 and April 2020.

It was said he had trivialised a war crime, challenged the occurrence of crimes against humanity and incited the public to hatred or violence because of origin, nation, race or religion.

Oradour-sur-glane -village
Entrance to the Oradour-sur-glane -village, completely destroyed during the war. Image: Shutterstock.

In one video Reynouard denied the 1944 massacre at Oradour took place after the Waffen SS moved in and particularly that women and children were burnt alive in the village.

He also denied the existence of gas chambers at the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and claimed the Holocaust was made up of multiple lies, errors or half truths.

In one video he stated: “There is a Jewish problem. A problem that Hitler saw clearly.”

He went on to describe the Nazi leader as “the most slandered man” and said he wanted to “rehabilitate” National Socialism.

Sheriff was right

Lord Carloway, who heard the case with Lord Pentland and Lord Tyre, said Sheriff Christopher Dickson was entitled to hold the seven videos featuring Reynouard did not amount to a minor offence but one of relative seriousness by Scottish standards.

The sheriff was also entitled to take account of a previous one year jail sentence imposed on Reynouard in France and consider that he faced a similar penalty.

For Reynouard it was argued the videos did not threaten serious disturbance to the community and did not constitute a call to action so to extradite him would be disproportionate.

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