Defiant Ken launches fresh attack

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London Mayor Ken Livingstone today again refused to apologise for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard insisting he had nothing to say sorry for.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone today again refused to apologise for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard insisting he had nothing to say sorry for.

"What I said to this reporter was irrelevant whether he was black, gay or Jewish, I said it because he was a reporter that was the defining issue," he told a packed City Hall press conference in central London.

He told the capital's Jewish community he did not mean to offend them.

But he launched a fresh attack on the reporter, his newspaper the Evening Standard and its sister paper the Daily Mail.

The Mayor said he had been deeply affected by the concern of Jewish people, including Holocaust survivors, following his remarks to Oliver Finegold two weeks ago.

In fact the only time he said sorry was as he defiantly told reporters: "Sorry, the world isn't all about you journalists."

A fiery Mr Livingstone said he had been rude to journalists for 25 years and would continue to do so.

He said: "I take the broad view that in public life you have to put up with it. I don't like it when you go after my family. And I do feel quite offended when you decide this is the most significant news item since the Asian tsunami.

"Sorry, the world isn't all about you journalists."

To the Jewish community he said: "My words were not intended to cause such offence".

But he said he would not take a lesson about anti-Semitism from the Daily Mail.

His statement failed to placate critics.

Leading Jewish Parliamentarian Lord Greville Janner said it was "very disgracefully wrong of him" not to have apologised.

Lord Janner, a former war crimes investigator, told Sky News the mayor should resign.

Sally Hamwee, deputy chair of the London Assembly who is also Jewish, said: "He equated being hounded for 25 years by journalists with being persecuted in Hitler's Germany. He whipped up the row, tried to make himself in to the victim and frankly it does not do politics any good.

"He has behaved as he often does, poor little cheeky chappy, little Ken rejected by the Labour Party, the world is against him - that does not wash."He is a senior politician with responsibilities the whole of the democratic process."

Since the outburst two weeks ago Prime Minister Tony Blair, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, Transport Minister Tony McNulty, a range of politicians from different parties, Holocaust survivors and Jewish community leaders have all called on Mr Livingstone to apologise.

Mr Livingstone made his remarks after a party at City Hall marking 20 years since former Culture Secretary Chris Smith's became Britain's first openly gay MP.

Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts said: "If a large section of the communityis upset about something you have said and it's easy to say sorry, why not justsay sorry?"

He told Sky News: "It seems weird that Mayor Livingstone won't do that."It seems odd behaviour and casts light on the character of the guy, who is an elected politician."

The Mayor criticised Mr Letts in his speech for "inappropriate use of the term Holocaust" for describing Labour MP Andrew Dismore as "a Holocaust bore".

After reading from a six-page statement, Mr Livingstone was asked if he wouldoffer some form of apology to the Jewish community.

"The form of words I have used I think are right. I have nothing apologise for," he said.

The statement, which he wrote over the weekend, was sent to Downing Street, just so they could see it, he added.

A formal investigation by local authority watchdogs has begun into whether his remarks have breached the Greater London Authority Code of Conduct.

If he is found to have brought his office into disrepute or to have failed to treat others with respect he could face a range of punishments including being barred from office.

But in an attack on the Standards Board for England, he said: "Most Londoners will be surprised to discover that the person they chose to elect by a substantial majority last summer can be removed from office and banned from public life for five years for breaching the subsection of The Local Authorities (Model Code of Conduct) (England) Order 2001 which says that councillors "must treat others with respect".

"It has always been my view that respect has to be earned."