With its stone cottages, cobbled side streets, picturesque harbour and 
award-winning fish suppers, Anstruther has an abundance of attractions that people from far and wide come to experience.

However, for the past year it seems, unbeknown to the majority of those who call the charming fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife home, it has harboured one of the world’s most notorious Holocaust deniers. 

Vincent Reynouard is believed to have stayed with an elderly resident in Fife and spent his days on early morning cycles, visiting graveyards and shopping and cleaning for his host.

He also had daily meditation sessions and his only source of income was donations from his supporters and a few hours a week as an online maths tutor.

However, after a two-year search for his whereabouts by France’s Central Office for the Fight against Crimes against Humanity and Hate Crimes (OCLCH), officers from Police Scotland apprehended him in Anstruther on November 10. 

READ MORE: Anstruther Holocaust denier arrest sparks MP 'lessons' concern

The 53-year-old has multiple convictions in his native France spanning decades for comments he made denying the existence of the Holocaust; convictions that date to 1991 when he was sentenced for distributing leaflets denying the existence of the gas chambers among high school students. 

In 1997, Mr Reynouard, then aged 27, was dismissed from his position as a maths teacher at a secondary school in the Normandy town of Honfleur by the French education minister after the discovery of revisionist texts on the hard disk of the computer he used at the school.

He was also found giving his students statistical equations regarding the rate of mortality in Nazi concentration camps. 

HeraldScotland: Vincent Reynouard was apprehended in Anstruther last week.Vincent Reynouard was apprehended in Anstruther last week. (Image: Getty)

A decade later, Mr Reynouard was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and fined €10,000 by a court in Saverne for writing a 16-page brochure entitled Holocaust? Here’s What’s Kept Hidden From You… and sending it to tourism offices, museums and town halls across France in 2005. 

In 2015, he was sentenced to two years in jail by a court in Normandy for denying the Holocaust in a series of Facebook posts, with his most recent conviction coming in November of 2020 for posting a denial video on YouTube. 

In his absence, the Frenchman was also convicted for further offences across the Channel under anti-Nazi laws, and given a four-month jail term in 2020 and a further six months in January 2021.

Mr Reynouard had been living in the UK under his own name since around 2015 to evade the French justice system, with the search for his whereabouts only commencing in late 2020, when his name was linked to an open investigation into an attack of vandalism that took place at the Oradour-sur-Glane Memorial Centre in south-western France, which commemorates a massacre of 1944.

Mr Reynouard appears to have continued to pursue his revisionist agenda via prolific writings and videos on a verified account in his name on right-wing platform Gab.

In the posts, he never disclosed his precise location other than “London”. This changed in October of 2021 when, after receiving a camera crew from French Youtube channel called Editions Critias in his home, the location was narrowed to Kent. 

In a lengthy post on Gab, Mr Reynouard notes he escaped through the back door of the house when “two British inspectors” came to arrest him, and fled to the suburbs of Liverpool. 

Two weeks later, he says he took flight once more after police again arrived at the house he was renting a room in with other tenants, although he said he is “convinced” police were investigating a different matter entirely.

Since then, it appears from his posts on Gab, bar a brief stay with a friend, he had been residing in Anstruther for a year under a false name. 

HeraldScotland: Reynouard had been posting prolifically on right-wing platform Gab up until his arrestReynouard had been posting prolifically on right-wing platform Gab up until his arrest (Image: Getty)

In what looks like an attempt to throw the authorities off the chase, he said he was living “in the countryside somewhere on the east coast of England”. 

Posting on October 24 this year on Gab under a heading titled In Hiding For A Year, A Revelation And Some Memories, he wrote: “Today, I live with an old person whom I help. I do her shopping and I maintain her house, leaving everything clean behind me. To pay for my food, I give two hours of private lessons a week.”

He wrote that his “very simple life in a small room” consisted of “creating videos, cycling, reading and meditating” while eating “the same food every day (fresh vegetables and Weetabix)” financed entirely by donations from his followers on the right-wing platform. Without such donations, he wrote, he would “have already had to surrender to the authorities”. 

In his blog he rejected any ideas of pity for his “reduced life” by noting he had “higher aspirations”. 

He wrote: “As a National Socialist, I want to serve the community. I do this 
by restoring historical truths that may be useful for the future. In addition, I wish to answer existential questions about the meaning of life. Hence my readings and meditation.”

Mr Reynouard continued to be prolific on Gab right up until the day before his arrest. One of his last posts, dated November 8, discussed at length “the myth of gas trucks” in Nazi Germany, while, in a post from October 30, he wrote how old cemeteries persuade him “to continue the revisionist fight”.

Reports in France suggest that French authorities were tipped off Mr Reynouard was hiding out in Scotland and successful surveillance operation then resulted in the 53-year-old’s arrest.

HeraldScotland: Auschwitz 1944: More than one million people perished in the Nazi concentration camp.Auschwitz 1944: More than one million people perished in the Nazi concentration camp. (Image: Getty)

The denial of Nazi atrocities has been a crime in France since 1990, when The Gayssot Act, proposed by French Communist politician Jean-Claude Gayssot, was enacted to combat revisionist views denying the existence of gas chambers and other Nazi crimes. 

Although more than 25 European countries including France have laws that address the phenomenon of Holocaust denial, there is no specific law outlawing it in the UK. Despite this, General Jean-Philippe Reiland, head of the OCLCH, said they were able to “convince the British” to go after Mr Reynouard thanks to a judgment of the Caen Court of Appeal in 2015. 

This saw him given a one-year prison sentence for “the denial of crimes against humanity”, a sentence that was never executed because Mr Reynouard fled to the UK.

Holocaust denial stretches back to the aftermath of the Second World War when French journalist Maurice Bardeche was the first person to openly write that he doubted the reality of the atrocity. 

Since then, other prominent Holocaust deniers to have surfaced include one-time mainstream American historian Harry Elmer Barnes, German neo Nazi publisher Ernst Zundel and discredited British historian and Nazi apologist David Irving, who cultivated a reputation as the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier in the 1980s and who was sentenced to three years in jail in Austria in 2006.

In 2019, a survey of more than 2,000 people carried out by insight agency Opinion Matters for the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust found five per cent of UK adults did not believe the Holocaust took place, with one in 12 believing its scale has been exaggerated. 

Meanwhile, in 2020, a study of 11,000 people in America, commissioned by the Conference On Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, found 90% of respondents said they believed the Holocaust happened, with 3% denying it had.

International Jewish NGO The Anti-Defamation League believes that, since the 1980s, Holocaust denial has “migrated from pseudo-academic journals and conferences to the post-truth world of the internet”, with today’s younger generation of Holocaust deniers “active on social media forums such as Facebook and Twitter”. 

Campaign Against Antisemitism, a charity dedicated to exposing and countering anti-Semitism through education and zero-tolerance enforcement of the law expressed fears that in today’s social media-driven world, Holocaust denial “is just the touch of a button away”. 

A spokesman for the charity said: “In a world where our public conversation is dominated by social media, Holocaust denial is just the touch of a button away. Whether directly from Holocaust deniers online or trending terms like ‘Holohoax’ or algorithms that push anti-Semitic content to impressionable users, the internet is rife with claims and insinuations that the Nazis did not murder six million Jewish men, women and children. 

“Softer forms of Holocaust denial that trivialise the genocide or inaccurately and misleadingly compare it to other atrocities, as well as faddish racist notions that Jews cannot be victims, or that Israel acts like Nazis, also lay the ground for more unabashed denial. Everyone from teachers to prosecutors and parents to social media companies have a responsibility to ensure the next generation understands the truth and enormity of the Holocaust.”

“That challenge is made more difficult if Holocaust deniers like Vincent Reynouard face no consequences to their propagandising. This is why we have spent months investigating and corresponding with the authorities to ensure he is extradited to France and finally serves his sentence.”