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Thursday 21 August 2014

Channel 4 criticised for paying Holocaust denier €3,500 for lock of Hitler's hair

Jess Denham

Published 24/03/2014 | 14:08

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Adolf Hitler

Channel 4 has come under fire after paying Holocaust denier David Irving $5,000 (€3592) for an alleged lock of Hitler's hair.

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The 75-year-old British historian, who has described the Nazi dictator as a "great man", received the money ahead of Channel 4's new TV series Dead Famous DNA, due to start this week.

But Labour MP Ian Austin, whose Jewish father lost his family in the Treblinka death camp, has criticised the broadcaster for what he describes as a "tawdry" stunt.

"This sounds sick," he told the Daily Mirror. "It's appalling that Channel 4 would get involved with a Holocaust denier in some bizarre and tawdry show purporting to be entertainment. It's disgusting and raises questions about Channel 4's public broadcasting remit.”

Social media users have called Channel 4's decision "deeply misguided", "appalling" and "a disgrace".

In 2006, Irving was found guilty of 'Wiederbetätigung', meaning an act of (re)engagement in National Socialist activities or ideologies.

Hitler's hair was said to have been collected by sticky tape on the sole of a barber's shoe.

Channel 4 has defended its dealings with Irving, stating that "the potential importance of the scientific and historical insight justified the purchase of the sample".

"We wanted to obtain a sample of Hitler's DNA because scientific analysis of it could provide a key biological component to one of the most significant biographies in history," a spokesperson said.

"The programme makes clear David Irving's repugnant anti-Semitic views and his denial of the Holocaust, and Mark Evans' moral conundrum about dealing with him is explored."

Earlier today, David Irving insisted on Twitter that the lock of hair has been loaned to Channel 4, with payment made explicitly for an interview conducted in North Carolina..

But Channel 4 has refuted this claim, saying: "We categorically did not pay David Irving for the interview. We have a contract of sale signed by David Irving in relation to the purchase of the hair only."

Dead Famous DNA follows vet and Inside Nature's Giants presenter Mark Evans on his mission to find out more about history's most infamous figures through their last biological remains.

Evans attempts to obtain and analyse some high-profile DNA samples, with Marilyn Monroe, Napoleon and Charles Darwin also scientifically examined.

Dead Famous DNA begins at 9pm on Wednesday 26 March

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