Naughty Ken

London Mayor Ken Livingstone is suspended for offending a Jewish journalist:

The Mayor of London has denounced government watchdogs who today punished him with a four-week suspension from office for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

The Adjudication Panel for England found Ken Livingstone guilty of bringing his office into disrepute in a verbal clash with Oliver Finegold, a London Evening Standard reporter, outside City Hall in the capital last February.

David Laverick, chairman of the panel sitting in Central London, said he was “concerned” that Mr Livingstone had failed to realise the seriousness of his outburst, which the watchdog described as “unnecessarily insensitive”.

Mr Livingstone, who has consistently refused to apologise for his comments despite pleas from the Jewish community, hit back by saying that the ruling: “strikes at the heart of democracy”.

I tend to agree. Livingstone should have apologised – his original comment was insensitive and clearly offended many people – but many of his critics have long disliked him for his strong views on Israel and Zionism. This one-month suspicion will achieve little, however, but perhaps it will cause a healthy debate about free speech for elected officials and the power of an unelected panel.