Mayor of London compares reporter to Nazi prison guard

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005 London Mayor Ken Livingstone has refused to retract a Nazi insult made to a reporter. The comments were made when Evening Standard reporter Oliver Finegold approached Mr Livingstone while he was leaving a party celebrating the 20th anniversary of Chris Smith becoming the first homosexual MP to “come out”, which he was attending as a private matter. Livingstone apparently saw the presence of the journalist as an infrigement on his private life.

Mr Livingstone is reported to have asked 'what were you before?' and then asked if Finegold was a German war criminal; he then compared the reporter to a “concentration camp guard.”

Ken Livingstone has headed the Greater London Authority since 2000.

Labour's Mayor is said to be “standing by” his remarks and at his weekly press conference on Tuesday ruled out an apology and said that his comments were not racist.

“If you think they are racist, I think you are wrong,” he told media representatives.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has submitted an official complaint to the Standards Board for England which, if it decides to take action has the power to suspend or bar Mr Livingstone from office or alternatively may recommend that Mr Livingstone do something like attend race awareness meetings.

In separate moves the London Assembly passed two motions on Monday asking the Mayor to apologise for his comments.

The Mayor has said that his comments would not affect the 2012 Olympic bid made to the International Olympic Council, representatives from which arrived in London on Tuesday.

On the recording made by the reporter Mr Livingstone is heard to ask Mr Finegold if he is a “German war criminal,” to which Mr Finegold replies “No, I’m Jewish, I wasn’t a war criminal. I’m quite offended by that.”

The Mayor then went on to say “Ah right, well you might be, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren’t you?”

Sources

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