October 2006 Archives

The Times reports that Ken Livingstone has been awarded hundreds of thousands of pounds of legal costs in his succesful appeal against his 4 week suspension by the Standards Board for England's Adjudication Panel.

A judge said Mr Livingstone's gibe to Oliver Finegold, a reporter for the Evening Standard was "unnecessarily offensive" and "indefensible", and he should have apologised. But the Adjudication Panel for England was wrong when it ruled, in February, that the Mayor's outburst breached the Greater London Authority's code of conduct.

[...]

Today's ruling will come as a relief to Mr Livingstone, who had said that if he lost the case he could face bankruptcy, after spending around £250,000 contesting the panel decision. The judge ordered the Adjudication Panel for England to pay Mr Livingstone's costs, to be assessed at a later hearing if the two sides cannot agree on a figure.

[...]

Does this mean that Ken Livingstone will continue to insult all and sundry with impunity ?

The Times reports

Times Online October 05, 2006

Livingstone Nazi jibe ban overturned
By Helen Nugent

Ken Livingstone has won his court battle to overturn a four week suspension from office for comparing a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

The Mayor of London is thought to have spent tens of thousands of pounds on legal fees challenging a decision by the Adjudication Panel for England that his comment breached the Greater London Authority’s code of conduct.

[...]

This afternoon Mr Justice Collins said that the suspension would be quashed but he reserved his decision on whether the Mayor had brought his office into disrepute over the remarks.

The judge said that he wanted time to consider his ruling because of the "ramifications"

[...]

We await the detailed judgement by Mr Justice Collins, to see what exactly it does to the Code of Conduct which Local Councillors and Mayors etc. have agreed to abide by as part of their terms of office.

The question of whether Ken Livingstone was acting in a private cpacity when he insulted the journalist (even non-Jewish people should be offended by being called a "concentration camp guard" ) was looked into by the Adjudication Panel.

Did the Judge also look at the repeated public refusals by Livingstone to apologise ? These are what bring the Office of Mayor of London into direpute, as much as the original insults.

No amount of media spin from Livingstone's propaganda machine will convince us that he is somehow defending democratic principles, rather than his own vanity and arrogance, during his history of "foot in mouth" comments to the press.

Who stands the best chance of getting rid of Livingstone at the next election ?

The Guardian reports that Ken Livingstone has started his litigation in the High Court to try to discredit the Standards Board for England and its Adjudication Panel's ruling that he should be suspended from the Office of Mayor of London for a month.

Another Guardian report seems to imply that the Judge is sympathetic to Livingstone's case:

Mr Justice Collins also said he sympathised with the politician for doubting the good faith of the Evening Standard, the newspaper for which the reporter, Oliver Finegold, worked. The judge said: "I don't want anyone to suggest Mr Livingstone is anti-semitic. There has never been any indication of that. That is absolutely clear. No one can think he was making a remark like that because of anti-semitism."

However, this is pretty well exactly what the Adjudication Panel judgement said in the first place !

Livingstone was suspended for bring the Office of Mayor of London into disrepute, by not apologising,, and not for "racism", even though everyone accepts that his remarks to the Jewish reporter were offensive.

For all his weasel words about principles, he is not complaining and taking legal action over the decision by the STandards Board for England which ruled in his favour, when, incredibly, they accepted his unconvincing plea of ignorance, regarding his "get back to Iran" remarks to two property developers.

Not a single penny of London taxpayers' money should be wasted on this pointless vanity litigation.

If Ken Livingstone had apologised in public last February, this affair would , by now have been forgotten. Even supporters of his policies must be embarassed by his behavior, which reeks of the arrogance of power.

Reuters reports:

Forest Gate operation cost police 2 million pounds Tue Oct 3, 2006 1:13 PM BST164

LONDON (Reuters) - An anti-terrorism raid in east London sparked by flawed reports of a chemical bomb plot cost London's police force more than 2 million pounds, Scotland Yard said on Tuesday.

More than 250 officers were involved in the operation at two houses in Forest Gate in June, including 15 wearing chemical, biological and radiological protection suits who stormed the house.

One of the occupants, Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23, was shot and arrested with his brother by police acting on faulty intelligence that there was a chemical bomb in their home.

They were released without charge, and police said they had been wrong although the information about the suspected bomb had come from a credible source.

The bulk of the 2,211,600 pound cost of the operation came from the salaries of the officers involved including 864,300 pounds in overtime pay, Scotland Yard said.

Other costs totalling 368,200 were incurred from repairs to the houses and hotel accommodation for the families.

[...]

Technically, the normal cost of the Police salaries would have been incurred anyway, so the headline figure of £2.2 million should really "only" be 864,300 + 368,200 = £ 1,212,500

Even so, this seems to be a staggering waste of public money !

How much crime was not addressed properly, whilst all these policemen were wasting their time in Forest Gate ?

The cost to community relations and the the damage done to trust in the Police and Intelligence Agencies and the NuLabour government is also substantial.

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