Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has rejected criticism of his decision to reject nine men for appointment to the London Fire Authority because they are all white.

One of the men, gay Haringey borough councillor Ed Butcher was selected as the Lib Dem nominee following an election amongst all London Lib Dem councillors in May 2006.

However the mayor took steps to refuse to appoint nine representatives on the grounds that they were unrepresentative.

Cllr Butcher told PinkNews.co.k:

“If the Mayor wants to make a point about diversity, it is quite astounding that he has refused to appoint me for not being diverse enough.

“London has the highest gay population in the country but it seems the Mayor thinks they do not deserve representation.

“Ken Livingstone can now add gay and lesbians to the lists of groups and minorities he has personally offended.”

The mayor today defended his decision.

Mr Livingstone told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Councillor Butcher’s suggestion that the proper representation of lesbian and gay communities in London government is counter-posed to that of women and minority ethnic groups is quite wrong.

“To accept discrimination or gross under-representation of any big section of Londoners would legitimise discrimination against all.

“And there are just as many politicians ready to discriminate against lesbian and gay people as there are against women or ethnic groups.

“That is why the right to equality, which requires appropriate public representation, is indivisible.

“I am totally committed to all of London’s public bodies representing our city’s full diversity. That is why I will ensure lesbian and gay representation and that of women and minority ethnic groups on our city’s fire authority.”

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) is responsible for the London Fire Brigade.

Its 17 members, nine from the London Assembly and eight London Councillors, are appointed by the Mayor from nomination of the political parties to reflect their political balance.

It seems likely the decision will be legally challenged on the grounds that the Mayor does not have the power to refuse nominations.