Elected Mayor of London
[Suspension quashed by the High Court, I am glad to say, 7 months later]

Whatever anyone's opinion of Ken Livingston, the Adjudication Panel of England should probably be suspended, indefinitely, until the incumbents have been examined by medics and the qualifications for membership of the panel have been examined by public enquiry. Meantime I imagine a month's holiday for Mr Livingstone would be quite welcome. He has nothing to apologise for, or anyone to apologise to.  The fact that the reporter was Jewish is completely irrelevant, apart from the fact that in this case he would know what a concentration camp guard referred to.  The day anyone has to apologise to a newspaper reporter, unless you have accidentally stepped on one or they are very young and don't know a better way to survive, is the time to leave the country.

LONDON (Reuters) - Outspoken London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended for a month on Friday after being found to have brought his office into disrepute for comparing a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard.

A spokeswoman for the Adjudication Panel of England which hears complaints against local authorities, said it had suspended Livingstone, 60, for four weeks from March 1 in a case brought by a Jewish group.

What on earth has any Jewish group got to do with this anyway? I have a great-great-great-great-grandfather named Abraham Lorillard, does that make me Jewish? If not, do I have a board of English deputies ready to take up arms on my behalf if Ken Livingstone insults me? If this reporter holds a British passport then he is British. He has the same rights here as I do, as a British citizen, no more and no less. My religion need not be known, nor need my ethnic origin. The first is a private matter, the second is recently European/American/English/German/Irish/Scots and before that who knows and who cares. Who gives a damn what this reporter's religion or ethnicity is?

What historians will make of this I cannot imagine, but as the ancient Greeks would have it, "Those whom the gods would destroy they first make mad".

FEB 25th
The fact that the Adjudication Panel is not elected is a complete red herring. They should definitely NOT be elected. The Mayor is elected, the panel should be professionals who do not come newly to their job but know it well, and know how it has evolved since its inception, how their decisions are based on experience over the years and history from before their panel even existed. The present panel have shown themselves to be not up to speed, and should resign or be replaced.

OCTOBER 5th 2006    Thank God the judiciary have not lost their marbles, though it took a long time to find the complex legal route to common sense.

Ken's suspension order thrown out
Ken Livingstone's four-week suspension from the mayor's office has been quashed by a High Court judge.

He was suspended for his remarks to a Jewish journalist likening him to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

The exchange with Oliver Finegold happened as the mayor left an event in February last year.

The mayor was challenging a decision by the Adjudication Panel for England that his comments breached the Greater London Authority's code of conduct.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has demanded an apology from the mayor, regardless of the outcome of the case.

  "I think we probably know what the chances of the mayor apologising now are, so we're not holding our breath "
Jon Benjamin, chief executive, Board of Deputies of British Jews

"What he doesn't seem to accept is a number of constituents for whom he is actually mayor - that is Holocaust survivors and the Jewish community - were offended by what he said and that apology he seems to have problems in giving," Jon Benjamin, the chief executive of the organisation, said.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Collins said the suspension would be overturned, regardless of whether or not the mayor won his appeal against the Adjudication Panel for England's finding.

The judge said: "I have made it clear the suspension will be quashed whatever I decide on whether the Panel's finding was correct."

He reserved his final judgment on Mr Livingstone's appeal to a later date, saying: "It is not an easy case. There are certain ramifications, whatever I decide, which will affect other matters."

The public were "heartily sick of the whole saga", Mr Benjamin said.

"I think we probably know what the chances of the mayor apologising now are, so we're not holding our breath," he said.

Flawed decision

During the two-day hearing, Mr Livingstone's lawyers argued the panel's decision, made in February, was legally flawed on a number of grounds.

This included the fact the Mayor had not been acting in his official capacity at the time of the incident.

The panel's ruling was defended by the Ethical Standards Officer, who referred the case to the disciplinary body.

The ESO contended the Mayor's arguments were over-complicated and "trivialised" the code of conduct and there was no basis for the judge substituting his own judgment for that of the panel.

John Biggs, Labour's London Assembly member for City and London, welcomed the judge's decision to quash the order saying: "It should be for Londoners to decide if the Mayor should be removed from office and not an unelected quango. I am pleased that the judge agrees with us."

If the appeal fails, Mr Livingstone will be responsible for paying his own legal costs, estimated at £80,000, although he will continue to be paid.