[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006, 11:44 GMT
'Flawed system' suspended mayor
Ken Livingstone
Mr Livingstone said he was expressing his honestly-held view
The head of the panel which suspended London's mayor has admitted the system under which it operates is flawed.

Ken Livingstone was banned for four weeks by the Standards Board for England for comparing a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard.

Critics of the system have said an unelected panel should not be able to remove an elected representative.

Board chairman Sir Anthony Holland, said he expected new legislation to change the system.

Mr Livingstone is to decide next week whether he will make a High Court appeal against the suspension, which is due to begin on 1 March.

Elected politicians should only be able to be removed by the voters or for breaking the law
London mayor, Ken Livingstone

If an appeal fails, Mr Livingstone will be responsible for paying his own legal costs, estimated at 80,000, although he will continue to be paid.

A three-man disciplinary tribunal unanimously ruled that Mr Livingstone was "unnecessarily insensitive and offensive" when he compared the Evening Standard's Oliver Finegold to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

The chairman of the panel, David Laverick, said it had decided on a ban because Mr Livingstone had failed to realise the seriousness of his outburst.

Mr Laverick went on to say that the complaint, brought by the Jewish Board of Deputies, should never have reached the board but did so because of Mr Livingstone's failure to apologise.

Mr Livingstone has said he was expressing his honestly-held political view of Associated Newspapers and had not meant to offend the Jewish community.

The mayor said after the ruling: "Elected politicians should only be able to be removed by the voters or for breaking the law.

"Three members of a body that no one has ever elected should not be allowed to overturn the votes of millions of Londoners."

Sir Anthony said on Saturday he was glad the Livingstone case had triggered debate over his board's functions and powers.

HAVE YOUR SAY
My experience over the past five and a half years is that the legislation does have flaws. No-one now denies that
Sir Anthony Holland

Complaints against MPs are investigated by the Standards Commissioner, who reports to Parliament, which ultimately decides any sanction in a democratic way, he pointed out.

"This is the clash between the democratically elected Parliament providing a code of conduct and then whether or not that should be allowed to intervene between the electorate's wishes," Sir Anthony told BBC Radio 4's Today programme."

"My experience over the past five and a half years is that the legislation does have flaws. No-one now denies that," he said.

Sir Anthony said he expected legislation soon to enact the key recommendations of a report published by the Graham Committee in January 2005.

The report proposed a radical transformation of the Standards Board, transferring responsibility for the majority of cases to a local level and allowing it to operate as a "strategic regulator" focusing on the most important issues.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear the exchange that led to Ken Livingstone's suspension



SEE ALSO:


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific