[JURIST] Britain's High Court [official website] Tuesday blocked a four week suspension of London Mayor Ken Livingstone [official profile] ordered [ruling text, PDF] by a case tribunal of the Adjudication Panel for England [official website] last week for bringing his office into disrepute. The suspension, scheduled to begin March 1, stemmed from an exchange between Livingstone and a Jewish journalist. The High Court deferred the suspension until Livingstone's appeal can be heard.
The incident occurred when the outspoken Livingstone, leaving a private party, responded to a reporter's questions by telling him he was "like a concentration camp guard - you are just doing it because you are paid to." Livingstone later defended his comments as referencing not the journalist himself, but his employer, the Evening Standard, a tabloid paper that supported the Nazis in early 1930's. At a press conference [full text] earlier Tuesday, Livingstone argued that overly insensitive remarks "are not grounds for overturning the decision of the voters of London to elect me as mayor." After the ruling he issued a personal statement saying:
...the ruling of the Case Tribunal to suspend me from office when there is no suggestion that I have acted unlawfully strikes at the fundamental principles of democracy. The decision of the High Court today to stay the suspension ordered by the Case Tribunal is therefore a very welcome development.Reuters has more.
Although derided as "Red Ken" by critics of his left-wing policies and often at loggerheads with the Blairite Labour Party which in 2000 actually threw him out [Guardian report] for opposing its approved candidate in London's mayor's race, Livingstone won international acclaim in July 2005 for rallying Londoners with remarks [JURIST video] made after the London transit bombings.