Standard chiefs had spiked Livingstone race row story

By Dominic Ponsford

The Evening Standard spiked news of Ken Livingstone’s “concentration
camp guard” jibe against one of its own reporters, only for the story
to leak out in other media.

Reporter Oliver Finegold filed a report of his altercation with
Livingstone after a party held on 8 February to mark MP Chris Smith’s
20th anniversary of coming out of the closet.

The Standard opted
not to run it, but the story was leaked from the Standard ‘s
copy-editing system, which all its journalists have access to, and
appeared on the website www.mediaguardian.co.uk on Thursday 10 February.

It
was only after the story was picked up by other media that the Standard
ran a front-page piece on Friday detailing concerns raised by Jewish
leaders about Livingstone’s remarks.

Finegold asked the Mayor for
a comment after he was leaving the event, saying he was from the
Standard , only to be told: “How awful for you. Have you thought of
having treatment?” Livingstone added: “What did you do? Were you a
German war criminal?”

After Finegold told the Mayor he was
Jewish, Livingstone said: “You are just like a concentration camp
guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren’t you?”

He went on to condemn the Standard as “a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots” with “a record of supporting fascism”.

The
last dig from Livingstone was a reference to the editorial policy of
the Standard ‘s sister paper, the Daily Mail, more than 70 years ago.

Livingstone
is now facing an inquiry from local government watchdog the Standards
Board of England after complaints from Jewish leaders. If found guilty
of misconduct he could be banned from office for five years.

At a
press conference on Tuesday Livingstone refused to back down and
renewed his attack on Standard owners Associated Newspapers. He said he
believed Associated Newspapers editorin- chief Paul Dacre had turned
the Standard into a clone of the Daily Mail since appointing Veronica
Wadley as editor.

He admitted that his comments to Finegold could
be construed as offensive, but denied that they were racist and refused
to apologise.

In a Standard comment piece, reporter Oliver
Finegold said: “I am at a loss to explain why he felt the need to
attack me as a concentration camp guard, especially after I told him I
was Jewish. His refusal to apologise or see the harm he has done has
only made the situation worse.

“If he did not want to talk to me, he could have said no comment. None of this needed to have happened.”

The
Standard responded to Livingstone’s latest tirade with the statement:
“The important issue is what Ken Livingstone said to an Evening
Standard reporter, many people have taken offence at this and the board
of deputies of British Jews has lodged a formal complaint asking for an
investigation from the Standards Board of England.

“There’s no
vendetta against the Mayor, far from it, this newspaper backed him in
last year’s mayoral election and has supported his policies when we
believe they are right for London.”

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