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Livingstone cleared

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-10-19

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has been cleared of bringing his office into disrepute for comparing a Jewish reporter from London's Evening Standard to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

The move follows an earlier ruling in the High Court which removed a four-week suspension from office which the Standards Board for England had previously given Livingstone for his remarks to Oliver Finegold in February 2005.

Justice Andrew Collins cleared Livingstone by saying as the Mayor was outside of work hours he was protected by freedom of speech when he said the comments to Finegold after a private event in London.

"Freedom of speech means anyone can be as offensive as they wish provided they do not break the law of the land," he said of his ruling but added: ""He should have realised it would not only give great offence to him, but was likely to be regarded as an entirely inappropriate observation by Jews in general, and those who had survived the Holocaust in particular."

After the hearing, Livingstone said: "It brings a lot of common sense to approaching the balance between freedom of speech and the various roles of the authorities in all of this."