London mayor Ken Livingstone’s successful appeal against suspension – after he likened a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard – cost the taxpayer almost £200,000, it has emerged.
Local government watchdog the Standards Board for England was ordered to pay Livingstone’s High Court costs after a judge ruled it was wrong to suspend him for the jibe against Evening Standard reporter Oliver Finegold.
Official figures released by the Department of Communities and Local Government showed that the board paid an estimated £120,000 towards the mayor’s costs on top of its own legal bill of £64,000.
The Adjudication Panel for England, which initially found that Livingstone’s comments had brought his office into disrepute, faced costs of £14,000, bringing the total bill for taxpayers to £198,000.
Livingstone won his High Court appeal last October. Mr Justice Collins ruled his remarks, while made “off duty”, were “unnecessarily offensive” and “indefensible”, and he should have apologised.
But the judge said the Adjudication Panel for England was wrong to rule that Livingstone’s outburst breached the Greater London Authority code of conduct.
A spokesman for the mayor said: “The judge found that the Standards Board had been wrong and that the Mayor had not brought the office of Mayor into disrepute.
“Therefore the entire responsibility for all costs to the public purse are the responsibility of the Standards Board and its Adjudication Panel, which launched an action found by the High Court to have been wrong.”