London Mayor Ken Livingstone has won an appeal against a finding that he brought his office into disrepute after making controversial comments comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard.
In February the adjudication panel of the Standards Board for England ruled that the Mayor 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.
But ruling at the High Court today, Mr Justice Collins, who last week overturned a proposed four week suspension, said the panel was wrong in its judgement and should have recognised Mr Livingstone’s freedom of speech.
The mayor defended the outburst, saying Evening Standard reporter, Oliver Finegold was “doorstepping” him outside the party.
He believed he was expressing his honestly-held political view of Associated Newspapers, but he didn’t mean to offend the Jewish community.
The judge concluded that while the comments were offensive, they did not bring the office into disrepute.
Mr 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