Multicultural capital turns on Livingstone over death-camp slur

Ken Livingstone is no stranger to making enemies but even by his gladiatorial standards the outspoken Mayor of London's latest battle with the press is a bloody one with the potential of causing him long term political damage.

He is under sustained attack from Jewish community leaders and a gay rights group over remarks he made during an encounter with a newspaper reporter. Mr Livingstone has refused to apologise to the Evening Standard or its journalist, Oliver Finegold, after he likened the reporter to a "concentration camp guard" upon being told by Mr Finegold that he was Jewish.

The Mayor's differences with the press can be traced back to the early 1980s when, as leader of the GLC, he was labelled "Red Ken" for promoting a socialist agenda and extending an invitation to the capital to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

His bust-up with the Standard is the latest in a series of spats which began soon after the appointment of the editor, Veronica Wadley, in 2002.

That year he urged Londoners to boycott the paper after a front-page story accused him of drunkenly pushing a man over a 15ft stairwell and manhandling his pregnant girlfriend at a party. The Mayor denied the allegations, accusing the Standard of waging a politically motivated campaign against him.

The London paper went on to repeatedly attack his congestion charge policy and last year led a chorus of condemnation after he invited the radical Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to a conference.

Mr Livingstone thinks the Standard's coverage of London to be unreasonably negative and has set up his own title, The Londoner, extolling the benefits of living in the capital.

Ms Wadley hit out in The Spectator magazine last month, saying the Mayor was still riled because she refused to have lunch with him after becoming editor. The latest controversy also reopens old wounds with Jewish leaders. A remark four years ago that global capitalism kills more people than Hitler was condemned by Jews.

On a tape of his encounter with Mr Finegold, the Labour politician can be heard asking the reporter if he is a "German war criminal" before learning of his Jewish background. He then describes the staff of the paper as a "load of scumbags and reactionary bigots".

Mr Livingstone woke yesterday morning to find representatives of some of the causes he has championed waiting to deliver a critical verdict on what his office insisted had begun as "relatively light-hearted comments". The verbal fracas, which followed a gay event in honour of the Labour MP Chris Smith on Tuesday night, brought swift condemnation from Jews, gay rights campaigners and from within his own party.

Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: "I find his language appalling and this man's insensitivity appears to know no bounds at all. He should consider his position."

Writing in the pages of the Standard, Gerald Kaufman, one of the country's leading Jewish MPs, said: "To liken anyone ­ let alone a Jew ­ to a concentration camp guard is crass and insensitive."

Mr Livingstone, who described the Standard's decision to doorstep the event as harassment, also attracted criticism from the gay rights group, OutRage!

Brett Lock, a spokesman, said: "His sensationalist rhetoric cheapens the experience of Jews, gays, the disabled, Roma, black people, communists and others persecuted by the Nazis."

Opponents wasted no time in suggesting his comments would damage London's Olympic bid. Tony Arbour, the Tory vice-chairman of the Greater London Authority standards com- mittee, said: "He has brought London and his office into disrepute, and may have single-handedly ensured London will fail to win the 2012 Olympics."

The Mayor will try to crown his second term in office next week by convincing a 14-member Olympic delegation of his native city's merits.

Details of Mr Livingstone's diary from last week, seen by The Independent, show he attended five events to which the media were invited, apparently providing the grounds for his office to complain that the Standard was unfairly pursuing him.

Last night, Mr Livingstone was in no mood for a climbdown. He said that "nobody who works for the Daily Mail group of papers [which owns the Standard] deserves respect".

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released the first teaser trailer a week early after it leaked online

Extras
indybest
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
News
i100
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voicesVicky Chandler: Zoella shows us that feminism can come in all forms
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

History Teacher

£95 - £105 per day: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Plymouth i...

SQL Developer - Cardiff - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits and bonus: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer -...

SQL Developer - Cardiff - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits and bonus: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer ...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job:TEACHERS REQUIREDWe are...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?