Former London mayor Ken Livingstone suspended from Labour for another year

Ken Livingstone at Church House, Westminster, London, for a disciplinary hearing where he faces a charge of engaging in conduct that was grossly detrimental to the party following his controversial comments about Adolf Hitler. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 30, 2017. Mr Livingstone was suspended in April last year after claiming that Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s. See PA story POLITICS Livingstone. Photo credit should read: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire
Ken Livingstone at Church House, Westminster, London, for a disciplinary hearing where he faces a charge of engaging in conduct that was grossly detrimental to the party following his controversial comments about Adolf Hitler. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 30, 2017. Mr Livingstone was suspended in April last year after claiming that Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s. See PA story POLITICS Livingstone. Photo credit should read: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has avoided expulsion from Labour over controversial comments about Adolf Hitler and Zionism, but has vowed to campaign against the further one-year suspension from the party imposed on him at a disciplinary hearing.

Mr Livingstone, who had threatened to launch a judicial review if he was forced out of the party, said he would now consult with lawyers about his legal position.

The suspension means Mr Livingstone can not stand in parliamentary, or council, elections for the party during the next year.

But the chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, Jeremy Newmark said the suspension was “quite insufficient”.

Addressing a crowd of journalists immediately after the hearing, Mr Livingstone said: “I expected them to expel me, so I’ve now got to consider whether I challenge this legally or just live with it.”

Mr Livingstone said the experience “was like sitting through a court in North Korea”.

He maintained that he had not brought the party into disrepute, saying: “There’s an issue here that matters - should someone be disciplined for stating a historical truth, and I think that’s really important.

“Labour MPs who tweeted that I was anti-Semitic, that I had said that Hitler was a Zionist, I was a Nazi apologist, no disciplinary action against them.

“I think that’s a double standard that’s unacceptable. MPs can’t be treated differently to ordinary party members. You can’t apologise for telling the truth.”

The ex-mayor said he would launch a campaign to have the suspension overturned.

“The Labour Party’s disciplinary process was not in accord with natural justice in a number of ways. For example the panel hearing was not held in public, despite the fact that it could have been under Labour’s rules. I was suspended for more than 11 months before the hearing was held.

“I will be launching a campaign to overturn my suspension of party membership.”

Mr Livingstone insisted that he had never said Hitler was a Zionist, only that Hitler had supported Zionism at one time.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “The National Constitutional Committee of the Labour Party has today found that all three charges of a breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.1.8 by Ken Livingstone have been found proved.

“The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for the breach of Labour Party rules will be suspension from holding office and representation within the Labour Party for two years.

“Taking account of the period of administrative suspension already served the period of suspension will end on 27 April 2018.”

Labour’s shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, who carried out a controversial inquiry into allegations of anti-Semitism in the party before being made a peer by Jeremy Corbyn, said: “Labour is the party of both equality and natural justice.

“This is demonstrated by its record of legislation in Government and its ability to look at itself fairly and carefully in the mirror in more difficult times, however painful this might be.

“I hope people might now revisit my report and remind themselves of better ways to argue about difficult issues without compromising our values of solidarity, tolerance and respect.”

Jeremy Newmark, chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, called the suspension “quite insufficient”.

“It seems the party is operating some kind of revolving door policy where one can make deeply hurtful and offensive comments, denies the history of the Holocaust, and dip in and out of party membership.

“It’s a betrayal of the values of our party and what it stands for.

“I feel they’ve fudged an incredibly important and significant decision, a moment that could have been a turning point for the Labour Party in proving that it has zero tolerance for anti-Semitism appears to have been wasted.”