Reaction to Ken Livingstone suspension

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Monday, February 27, 2006

The news that London Mayor Ken Livingstone is to face a one month suspension over comments made to an Evening Standard journalist was a surprise to many across the political spectrum when it was announced on Friday.

Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron, who would take over the Mayor's duties in the event of a suspension, said "This decision is absurd - millions of Londoners elected the Mayor, and three unelected officials remove him. An elected Mayor should only be removed by the law or by the electorate, not by an unelected body."

Support was also received from the Stop the War Coalition, who said in a statement that they were appalled - "Ken Livingstone was elected by millions of Londoners and he has been suspended by an unelected quango". The Trades Union Congress also condemned the statement, praising the Mayor's "absolute commitment and exemplary and consistent record in opposing racism of any form". The National Assembly Against Racism Vice Chair said that they were "outraged" at the decision, also praising the Mayor's record of anti-racism campaigning.

The Board Of Deputies Of British Jews suggested that the Mayor had been "the architect of his own misfortune" by failing to apologise over the incident, but said that they had not sought anything other than an expression of regret.

The Muslim Association of Britain argued that the suspension was a serious blow to democracy and free speech by undermining "the essence and values of democracy".

The Chairman of the London Jewish Forum Adrian Cohen welcomed the decision, but suggestion that it should never have reached the point of a suspension "when a simple apology could have avoided all the pain caused to so many Jewish Londoners", a sentiment echoed by the Jewish Leadership Council.

The Editor of the Evening Standard, whose journalist is at the centre of the controversy, claimed that the journalist had behaved impeccably and accused Mr Livingstone of being stubborn.

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