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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 09:04 GMT 10:04 UK
Livingstone condemns newspaper
London mayor Ken Livingstone
Mr Livingstone angry over Evening Standard "smears"
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has accused a newspaper of harassing his pregnant girlfriend in a plot to get him replaced with a Conservative successor.

He launched the tirade in a statement at the beginning of Mayor's Question Time at the London Assembly.

He accused London's Evening Standard of indulging in "scurrilous or inaccurate" reports about his private life. His office manager Emma Beal, 36, is pregnant with their child.

The newspaper dismissed Mr Livingstone's claims that they had a political axe to grind as "nonsense".


I would now urge the newspapers to stop their harassment of Emma Beal and her family.

Ken Livingstone

Mr Livingstone's fury was triggered by a front-page article which, he claims, wrongly accused him of assaulting someone at a party, manhandling Miss Beal and then fleeing before the police arrived.

Mr Livingstone used his public platform before the full meeting of the London Assembly to deny each charge in turn.

The Evening Standard said: "We conducted a thorough investigation into the events that occurred on the evening of the party and spoke to a number of eye witnesses.

"It is, of course, nonsense to suggest that the story was published for political reasons."

'Personal smears'

Mr Livingstone told the assembly: "I want to emphasise that Emma Beal has never sought publicity, never given interviews, never in any way set herself up as a public figure, never stood for public office.

"I would now urge the newspapers to stop their harassment of Emma Beal and her family.

"The Evening Standard has made the accusations because it has set itself the goal of getting a Tory Mayor if London elected.

"It knows it cannot achieve this goal on the grounds of quality and is therefore resorting to unfounded personal smears.

"It is now clear, from this and other recent coverage, that the Standard will spend the next two years pursuing this agenda in order to get a Tory imposed on London."

'Outrageous'

He quoted a statement by Nicola Hawin, the Director of Women's Aid, claiming that reports of an alleged assault against Miss Beal were "without foundation".

Mr Livingstone said he would not sue the newspaper. This was an exception to his rule never to comment on his personal life.

His two-page statement drew scorn from Brian Coleman, the deputy leader of the Greater London Authority Conservatives.

He said: "It is outrageous that the mayor can try and make this into a party political issue."


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See also:

27 Mar 02 | England
14 Mar 02 | UK Politics
04 Mar 02 | England
01 Oct 01 | Labour
06 Mar 01 | UK Politics
06 Mar 00 | UK Politics
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