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Ken found guilty

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-02-24

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been found guilty of bringing his office into disrepute by comparing a Jewish reporter from the Evening Standard to that of a Nazi concentration camp guard.

The three-person Adjudication Panel for England ruled unanimously against Mr Livingstone over the comments he made to journalist Oliver Finegold in February 2005 as he was leaving a party to mark 20 years of former Culture Secretary Chris Smith becoming Britain's first openly-gay MP.

The case was brought by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the panel has decided that he should be suspended from office for four weeks from March 1. 

"His treatment of the journalist was unnecessarily insensitive and offensive," said David Laverick, chairman of the panel.

"He persisted with a line of comment likening the journalist's job to a concentration camp guard despite being told that the journalist was Jewish and found it offensive to be asked if he was a German war criminal."

After the comments were made, Mr Livingstone was invited to apologise for what he said, but refused to do so.

In a statement, The Board of Deputies said:

"The Board of Deputies of British Jews regrets that the Mayor’s intransigence over his hurtful comments last February outside City Hall and his subsequent failure to apologise has lead to a finding that the Office of the Mayor has been brought into disrepute.  Had the Mayor simply recognised the upset his comments had caused, this sorry episode could have been avoided.  He has been the architect of his own misfortune."

"The Board of Deputies has at no stage passed judgement on the motivation for the Mayor’s comments, nor have we sought anything other than an expression of regret and an acknowledgement that the words used were wholly inappropriate for the elected representative of Londoners of all faiths and beliefs.  We hope that all those involved can now move on from this episode."

Related link:

Exclusive SomethingJewish interview with Ken Livingstone