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Livingstone in court

by: Ben Morris - Last updated: 2006-10-04

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

London's Mayor Ken Livingstone has launched a legal challenge to overturn a four-week suspension from office he received earlier this year for comments he made to a Jewish journalist.

In February, the Standards Board for England gave Livingstone a one month suspension from office for likening Oliver Finegold, a journalist from the Evening Standard to that of a Nazi concentration camp guard and refusing to apologise.

The month long suspension was due to being in March, but was delayed until an appeal could be made.

"I have total confidence in British justice. It is always a pleasure to come before the court," he said as he entered court.

In February 2005, Finegold was outside a function Livingstone had attended and began to question him as he left. Livingstone refused and then verbally lashed out on Finegold once he knew that the reporter was from the Evening Standard.

Despite Livingstone himself being engaged as a freelance writer for the paper in previous years, he commented on the known fascist inklings the owners, Associated Newspapers had in the 1930s and said to Finegold when he told him he was from the Standard: "What did you do? Were you a German war criminal?"

Finegold then told Livingstone he was Jewish and Livingstone added that the reporter was "
Finegold said he was Jewish and found the remarks offensive. Livingstone replied that the reporter was "like a concentration camp guard -- you are just doing it because you are paid to."

"Mr Livingstone has long held well-documented, lawful and, we say, political views as to the association of both the Evening Standard and its owners, Associated Newspapers, with far right-wing politics," said his legal representative James Maurici. "Mr Livingstone suspected the Evening Standard's motivations for being at the reception in question."

Livingstone is paying for the appeal privately, if he loses, he could end up with a legal bill of over £100,000.