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Denial lawyer Anthony Julius on antisemitism and the age of extremes

As I walk up to the large detached house in north London belonging to Anthony Julius, one of the very few people in this country who can justly be described as a famous lawyer, I feel a small wave of apprehension. Not about his famed intellect, which allegedly, and somewhat snarkily, has earned him the nickname among his peers of “Anthony Genius” – over the past four decades, Julius has made his name not just as a fearsome lawyer for the grand and the gruesome, from Diana, Princess of Wales to Robert Maxwell, but also as the author of a clutch of widely respected books, including, in 2010, a 900-page doorstopper, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Antisemitism in Britain. (A light read it is not.)No, his brains don’t scare me. I am, however, mildly concerned about whether I’ll escape this encounter with my virtue intact, because it turns out that Julius is a total ladykiller. This is not mentioned in any of the articles I have read about him, which prefer to focus instead, with a distinct tinge of the fetishisation of the exotic, on how he keeps kosher. But it is very much mentioned in Denial, the new feature film written by David Hare about what is probably Julius’s most famous case, when he successfully defended American historian Deborah Lipstadtagainst disgraced crackpot David Irving after he sued her for libel for describing him as a Holocaust denier.

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