Freedom of Expression – London Mayor gets punished for calling a news reporter “concentration camp guard”

LONDON, Feb 24: London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from office for four weeks on Friday for bringing his office into disrepute by comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard. The suspension is effective March 1.

“His treatment of the journalist was unnecessarily insensitive and offensive,” said David Laverick, chairman of the Adjudication Panel for England, the disciplinary panel which ruled on the case. Mr Laverick said the panel was concerned that Ken Livingstone refused to apologise. “The mayor does seem to have failed, from the outset of this case, to have appreciated that his conduct was unacceptable, was a breach of the code (the Greater London Authority code of conduct) and did damage to the reputation of his office,” Mr Laverick said.

“This decision strikes at the heart of democracy,” the mayor said. “Elected politicians should only be able to be removed by the voters or for breaking the law.

”Since Mr Livingstone lost the case, he must pay his own costs, estimated at more than 80,000 pounds. “The whole point being made was a dislike for Associated Newspapers and their history of supporting policies, which are inconsistent with the policies of the mayor,” lawyer Tony Child argued earlier this week. “There’s a right to be offensive and to express in hyperbolic terms opposition to Associated Newspapers and their policies,” Mr Child added. —AP

You can read one news report by clicking on the title and the second by clicking here.

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