Gibson linked to Holocaust deniers

The Scottsman/August 7, 2006
By Craig Howie

Actor Mel Gibson was once involved in providing support for a friend who was member of a far-right group in Australia known for its antisemitic views, according to newspaper reports.

The actor, who last week allegedly harangued police with an antisemitic outburst after being arrested on suspicion of drunk driving California, was said to have campaigned for Robin Taylor, a member of the Australian League of Rights, who stood unsuccessfully for a local government seat in northern Victoria in 1987.

A former director of the group, which denies that the Holocaust occurred, claimed in the Melbourne-based Sunday Herald Sun that Gibson and his father, Hutton, were interested in the extremist group's ideas.

Charles Pinwall said: "They were never members of the league, no. But we never really recruited members, just support. [Gibson and his father] were interested in some of our ideas.

"His dad had politically similar ideas to me. His dad had a well-considered philosophy, he thought things through.

"I knew [Mr Taylor] was a friend of Mel's. Mel's not really a political animal, he's interested in spiritual things."

Mel Gibson's publicist, Alan Nierob, could not be contacted for comment yesterday, but Gibson has stridently denied allegations of antisemitism and has apologised twice for his latest outburst, both to his fans and the Jewish community.

His father has in the past been labelled a "Holocaust denier".

The Australian League of Rights, formed in 1960, is a small political organisation. On its website it claims to be a Christian-based service movement dedicated to monitoring threats to rights and freedoms.

The League has proclaimed publicly in the past its support for the prominent Holocaust denier David Irvine. Founder and long-time activist, Eric Butler, died in June this year aged 90.

About the time he was allegedly linked to the group, in 1987, Gibson had just finished filming on his breakout American hit film, Lethal Weapon, which followed his cult Mad Max trilogy in 1985.

Gibson, 50, was arrested in Malibu last Wednesday after highway police noticed the actor allegedly speeding and driving his Lexus sportscar erratically.

He was found to have a blood-alcohol reading over the legal limit.

On his arrest, Gibson is alleged to have said that Jews are responsible for starting every war ever fought and asked an arresting officer if he was Jewish. Police have so far ruled out releasing a video of Gibson's arrest.

He is scheduled to appear in court on 28 September to answer charges of drunk driving and driving with an open alcohol container in his car. He could face up to six months in jail, but is likely to escape with a caution.

Gibson's alleged actions have divided Hollywood, with many prominent figures distancing themselves from, or speaking in support, of Gibson. A power player in the film industry he has been at the centre of controversy on Jewish issues in the past, with the release of his largely self-funded box-office smash The Passion of the Christ.

Patrick Swayze yesterday became the latest celebrity to defend his friend and fellow actor.

Gibson is "a wonderful human being," Swayze told GMTV in an interview which was due to be broadcast today. "He is not antisemitic."

Swayze, 53, who is starring in a West End production of Guys and Dolls, added: "People say stupid things when they happen to have a few, and especially if you don't drink any more, or have limited your drinking for a long time and all of a sudden you decide to have one too many with the boys - you are stupid."

Swayze said the incident would certainly not end Gibson's career.

Hollywood figures, including Jodie Foster, have also defended Gibson against allegations he is antisemitic, arguing that the Oscar-winning actor and director is a different person when drinking and that his actions were caused by an addiction to alcohol that he has fought for much of his adult life.

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