A notorious French Holocaust denier living in Britain has denied his consent to being extradited to France, following his recent arrest by Police Scotland officers in Anstruther.
The arrest of Vincent Reynouard, 53, came after he spent two years on the run.
Mr Reynouard was sentenced to jail for four months on 25th November 2020 by a court in Paris and again in January 2021 for six months, in addition to fines. His latest conviction is in relation to a series of antisemitic postings on Facebook and Twitter and a 2018 YouTube video for which fellow French Holocaust denier, Hervé Ryssen (also known as Hervé Lalin), received a seventeen-month-jail term earlier that year.
However, Mr Reynouard fled the country before serving his sentence and settled in the UK, where he reportedly worked as a private tutor teaching children mathematics, physics and chemistry. Private tutors are not required to undergo background checks.
According to far-right activist Fabrice Jérôme Bourbon — who was himself convicted in December 2021 in connection with denial of war crimes and defending Hervé Ryssen and fined €8,000 — Mr Reynouard was visited by local police and Interpol on 25th October 2021.
Mr Bourbon elaborated in his far-right weekly magazine, Rivarol, claiming that police and Interpol visited Mr Reynouard’s flat at the time, believed to be in Kent, at around 16:00 in order to apprehend him and potentially initiate extradition proceedings. Mr Reynouard allegedly concealed his identity and fled the scene, remaining at large.
In November, he was finally arrested near Edinburgh. In the intervening months, Campaign Against Antisemitism has been cooperating with French Jewish groups seeking Mr Reynouard’s extradition to France. Along with Lord Austin, an Honorary Patron of Campaign Against Antisemitism, we have corresponded with police forces and prosecutors in the UK and Interpol in an effort to locate Mr Reynouard and bring him to justice. We are delighted that he has finally been caught.
Scottish police reportedly arrested him at an address near the Scottish capital, where he was apparently living under a false identity. He was brought before a judge on the same day and refused extradition to France.
Earlier this week, Mr Reynouard’s lawyer again told the court that the defendant “does not consent to extradition to France.”
He added: “I was instructed at about 18:00 last night and I do require some time to consider the matter. There is a matter that is, I think, of legal significance that I need more time to consider.”
This pronouncement arrives after it emerged that Mr Reynouard wrote that he expects to spend “five years or more” in a French prison, should the extradition request be successful.
In his letter to Rivarol, Mr Reynouard appealed to his supporters — whom, it has been reported, had been sending him donations whilst he was on the run — for pens, paper and various stationary so that he may write his memoirs, which he proposed be published by the far-right magazine.
“These memoirs are part of my revisionist mission, a mission which consists in giving answers to others,” he said. “Hence my desire to hide nothing, including the events that argue against me. Indeed, a true story is much richer in lessons than a pro domo plea or—worse—than a novel built for its own advantage.”
On his arrest, he wrote: “Why this decision? Because after my arrest, four days ago, by the Scottish authorities, I have no illusions: the French authorities who, on June 25, 2021, issued a European arrest warrant against me, will obtain my extradition. Back in France, I will serve several prison sentences for ‘disputing crimes against humanity’.
“In total, these sentences exceed 24 months (29 months to be exact). There will undoubtedly be other convictions for the same reason, because since my exile in Great Britain, in June 2015, I have published many revisionist videos likely to fall under the Gayssot law. Several are not time-barred, either having been published less than a year ago or already being sued. Therefore, I expect to stay in prison for five years or more.”
Last month, Mr Reynouard appeared in court where it was heard that he had been granted legal aid. He will be back in court next month, with a full extradition hearing scheduled for February.
Mr Reynouard faces a sentence of almost two years in a French prison, in addition to any further sentence in relation to other ongoing proceedings.
The Office Central de Lutte Contre les Crimes Contre l’Humanité, les Génocides et les Crimes de Guerre (OCLCH) — the arm of the French gendarmerie that specialises in hate crime and war crimes — has been leading the investigation.
Mr Reynouard’s first Holocaust denial conviction was in 1991 for distributing leaflets denying the existence of the gas chambers at concentration camps. Holocaust denial has been a criminal offence in France since 1990. He has been convicted on numerous occasions and his subsequent sentences include multiple prison terms and a €10,000 fine.
Mr Reynouard is alleged to have ties to Catholic fundamentalist groups that deny the Holocaust. In a recent analysis of the French far-right, the newspaper Liberation claimed that Mr Reynouard and Mr Ryssen are key members of a network of propagandists dedicated to the denial and distortion of the Holocaust.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Vincent Reynouard is a despicable Holocaust denier who has repeatedly been convicted by French courts. For him to have evaded justice, only to settle in the UK as a private tutor teaching children, is intolerable, which is why we worked with French Jewish organisations to secure his extradition so that he faces the consequences of his abhorrent incitement. We are pleased that, after months of investigations and, along with Lord Austin, correspondence with police and the criminal justice authorities, he has now finally been caught. We will continue to do everything within our power to ensure that he is extradited and serves his sentence in France.”