Vincent Reynouard, a French Holocaust-denier, will be extradited from the UK after his application for leave to appeal was rejected on Friday.
Mr Reynouard, 54, a convicted Holocaust-denier, was awaiting a decision from the court on the appeal after a court in Scotland granted an extradition request from France. Mr Reynouard was a fugitive in the UK who was caught following appeals from Campaign Against Antisemitism.
His extradition hearing followed several preliminary hearings and false starts to allow time for the content of videos, which were alleged to have been made by Mr Reynouard, to be translated into English, as well as other delays due to ill health on his legal team.
Mr Reynouard continued to post updates on his far-right blog, Sans Concession, despite being incarcerated as he awaited his extradition hearing.
The extradition request was granted after the court considered that the postings for which Mr Reynouard was found guilty in France would also be crimes in the UK under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
In a different case in 2018, Campaign Against Antisemitism secured a legal precedent that Holocaust-denial is “grossly offensive” and therefore illegal when used as a means by which to hound Jews. When it is delivered via a medium of communication, it can fall within the purview of the Communications Act. That English precedent has effectively been replicated in Scottish law in this case now as well.
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.
In November 2022, 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 corresponded with police forces and prosecutors in the UK and Interpol in an effort to locate Mr Reynouard and bring him to justice.
Scottish police 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 to consent to his extradition to France.
Early last year, Mr Reynouard appeared in court where he was served with a second arrest warrant, as the French authorities had allegedly made an error in their application for the initial arrest warrant. Paul Dunne, Mr Reynouard’s lawyer, said of Mr Reynouard: “He does not consent to his extradition to France.”
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. It is possible that his time in prison in the UK may reduce the length of his custodial sentence in France.
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.
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at 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 delighted that those efforts have borne fruit, with the court granting the request to extradite Mr Reynouard, and refusing his application for permission to appeal, so that he can face justice in France. This is not only the right judgement for the Jewish community, but also for the justice system. The UK cannot become a haven for those seeking to evade justice elsewhere. For antisemites in particular, the message is clear: you are not welcome in Britain. Good riddance, Mr Reynouard.”