London mayor's suspension frozen so he can appeal

By Lou Thomas

London mayor Ken Livingstone’s suspension from office for four weeks for comparing a Jewish Evening Standard journalist to a concentration camp guard has been frozen by a High Court  judge pending an appeal.

The ban was due to begin on 1 March. It was imposed on Livingstone after a three-man disciplinary panel ruled: "His treatment of the journalist was unnecessarily insensitive and offensive.

"He persisted with a line of comment likening the journalist’s job to a concentration camp guard despite being told that the journalist was Jewish and found it offensive to be asked if he was a German war criminal."

Livingstone’s remarks followed a party at City Hall to celebrate 20 years since Chris Smith became the first MP to publicly come out as gay. Livingstone told the subsequent Standards Board investigation that “It was very unusual to stake out City Hall” and that he felt the meeting was being “harassed”.

Reporter Oliver Finegold approached the Mayor outside City Hall as Livingstone was leaving the party for an interview. After Finegold told Livingstone he was Jewish and was“quite offended” at Livingstone’s remark, the Mayor replied “Well you might be, but you are like a concentration camp guard. You’re just doing it to get paid aren’t you?”

Finegold then said: “Great. I’ve you on record for that”.

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