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Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 14:22 GMT
Ginger jibe doubles 'Red Ken's' cash

Chris Evans is digging deep for Ken Livingstone
Millionaire disc jockey Chris Evans has announced he is to double his contribution to Ken Livingstone's campaign fund to become London mayor to 200,000.

London Mayor
Ginger-haired Mr Evans, head of the production company Ginger Media Group, decided to up his donation to Mr Livingstone after being angered by disparaging comments about redheads by Labour mayor candidate Frank Dobson.

On Monday, following the broadcaster's announcement at the weekend that he was to give 100,000 to the Brent East MP's independent mayoral candidacy, Mr Dobson attempted to play the donation down saying: "I am somewhat relieved really because my mum always told me to steer clear of redheads."

What Frank Dobson said is very offensive to people with red hair

Chris Evans
Within 24 hours the comment prompted Mr Evans, who has contributed considerable sums in the past to Labour Party funds, to double his original donation to the left-wing MP's campaign..

'Frank's gaffes will pay for campaign'

Responding to the news of the cash boost to his campaign coffers, Mr Livingstone said: "Frank's gaffes will pay for the whole campaign at this rate."

When Mr Livingstone announced his independent bid to become mayor earlier this month, the MP appealed to the public for funds, saying he needed to raise nearly 500,000 within a few weeks. Newspaper adverts and a donations hotline were launched.

Speaking on his Virgin Radio programme on Tuesday, Mr Evans was said to be livid at Mr Dobson's remarks.

He told his listeners: "What Frank Dobson said is very offensive to people with red hair."

"Kids growing up with red hair could be given a really tough time, especially if they have glasses."

A spokesman for Virgin Radio stressed that Mr Evans was speaking for himself: "The donation is entirely personal. The view he expressed are his [Mr Evans's] own and are in no way representative of the radio station."

The rules governing the election allow each mayoral candidate to spend a maximum of 420,000.

The mayoral election is to be held on 4 May.

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See also:

15 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Livingstone 'breached Commons rules'
20 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Sweetness and light at mayoral debate
06 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Ken Livingstone: Rebel with a cause
06 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Livingstone to run for mayor
26 Nov 99 | UK Politics
Pollling all the way to the ballot box
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