Livingstone is cleared over scuffle at party

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The London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, claimed victory yesterday after he was cleared of accusations of bringing his office into disrepute in a drunken scuffle at a party. Mr Livingstone was exonerated "on the balance of probability" of claims of misconduct and misleading his office about the alleged incident last year.

The verdict ended a 12-month inquiry by the Standards Board for England, the local government watchdog. Reports in the London Evening Standard claimed the Mayor had manhandled his girlfriend, Emma Beal, at a party in May last year, for allegedly smoking while she was pregnant. Robin Hedges, a Standard employee who was also at the party, was injured in a 15ft fall down a stairwell.

The investigation was launched under the Local Government Act 2000, upon referral to the board by the Liberal Democrats, amid claims that he had misled the London Assembly when he was questioned by members last year.

Mr Livingstone said: "This episode has been extremely distressing and unpleasant but I am glad the matter is closed. I told the truth throughout and I am very pleased this investigation has confirmed that."

Veronica Wadley, the Standard's editor, said the inquiry failed to shed light on Mr Hedges' fall or why the Mayor reportedly gave no explanation to emergency services.