London Mayor, Ken Livingstone who was suspended from office for a month after comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard has launched a High Court appeal to his suspension.
The adjudication panel of the Standards Board for England ruled that the Mayor of London brought his office into disrepute when he acted in an “unnecessarily insensitive” manner following a reception held commemorating 20th anniversary of Chris Smith being the first MP to reveal he was gay.
In a statement, Mr Livingstone said: “I have instructed my legal representatives to lodge an appeal today and will be asking for the suspension to be “stayed” – in effect lifted – until an appeal on both whether there was a breach of the code of conduct, and also whether the sanction was appropriate, has been heard.”
Panel chairman, David Laverick, said they decided on a ban because Mr Livingstone had failed to recognise the seriousness of his outburst. He said: “The case tribunal accepts that this is not a situation when it would be appropriate to disqualify the mayor.”
“The case tribunal is, however, concerned that the mayor does seem to have failed, from the outset of this case, to have appreciated that his conduct was unacceptable, was a breach of the code (the GLA code of conduct) and did damage to the reputation of his office.”
Mr Laverick added that the complaint should never have reached the board, but it was Mr Livingstone’s reluctance to apologise that caused it.
The mayor defended the outburst, saying Evening Standard reporter, Mr Finegold was “doorstepping” him outside a party.
He believed he was expressing his honestly-held political view of Associated Newspapers, but he didn’t mean to offend the Jewish community.
If his appeal fails, Mr Livingstone will have to pay his own legal costs, estimated at £80,000.
Ken Livingstone has been a recognised defender of gay rights, he launched the first ever Partnerships Register in the UK, which eventually led to the Civil Partnership Act last December, and supported the repeal of Section 28.
He has fully supported a range of events for the lesbian and gay community, including a free rally in Trafalgar Square at the end of last year’s Pride march