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Livingstone case adjourned

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2005-12-15

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

The case against London Mayor Ken Livingstone in which he made comments comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard has been adjourned until January, while one charge of not treating others with respect has already been dropped.

The comments made by Mr Livingstone to the reporter left the reporter "shocked and offended", a disciplinary tribunal was told.

As a result of the comments made in February to Oliver Finegold, the case was brought against him by the Standards Board of England and Wales to decide if he has broken codes of practice which if found guilty, Mr Livingstone could lose his office.

After a party, Mr Finegold working for the Evening Standard approached Mr Livingstone for some comments and was compared to a "concentration camp guard".

Ethical standards officer Tim Morshead said:

"The mischief in Mr Livingstone's remarks is not found until after he knew that Finegold was a Jew. After being told that Mr Finegold was a Jew what he proceeded to say could hardly have been more offensive."

Representing Mr Livingstone, Tony Child said the major had not meant to offend Jewish Londoners but was a verbal attack on Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Evening Standard, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

"What Mr Livingstone was doing when he made the statement which has led to this hearing is to reflect his long-held and its accepted, honestly held political view of the Mail group," Mr Child said. "The lack of an apology, even assuming one were warranted, cannot be relative to the question of breach of the code. It would be comparable to the parole board saying to someone who continues to protest their innocence that 'we are not going to let you out unless you apologise for what you have done'. An apology may be relevant to mitigation but a lack of an apology cannot determine liability."

The hearing has now been adjourned for a date to be set in mid to late January while one charge of failing to treat others with respect has already been dropped.