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|Livingstone Wins 'Free Speech' Case|
- Mayor allowed to be ‘insensitive and offensive’ says Judge in Nazi-insult ruling
KEN LIVINGSTONE has today been found not guilty of bringing the office of mayor into disrepute over his insult that a journalist was like a concentration camp guard.
Little did Livingstone know that the journalist in question, Oliver Finegold, was Jewish and that his throw-away insult would lead to months of accusations of anti-semitism and then of bringing the office of mayor into disrepute.
Justice Collins of the High Court said that though Livingstone’s comments might have been "insensitive and offensive", the mayor had the right to make them. "Surprising as it may perhaps appear to some, the right of freedom of speech does extend to abuse," said Collins.
Earlier this year, Livingstone had been found guilty of bringing his office into dispute by the Adjudication Panel of England, a relatively new body introduced by the present national government as a watchdog-with-teeth, charged with guarding the behavioural standards of those in public office.
The board banned Livingstone from public office for four weeks, a judgement which the mayor appealed and which led ultimately to today’s hearing.
Justice Collins said that although he agreed that the concentration camp comments would be offensive to many Jews and that therefore the Mayor had brought himself into disrepute, he hadn't brought the office of mayor as an institution into disrepute. In the judges words, the Adjudication Panel had "failed to recognise the real distinction between the man and the office."
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