Ken Livingstone: Only a 'biased and rigged jury' would find me guilty over Hitler comments
Ken Livingstone has accused supporters of Israel of trying to have him expelled from the Labour party - and said only a "biased and rigged jury" would find him guilty of anti-Semitism.
The former mayor of London also claimed he had been vicitmised for being a high-profile backer of Jeremy Corbyn.
He spoke out ahead of a two-day disciplinary hearing into his claim that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist "before he went mad and murdered six million Jews".
Mr Livingston was suspended by Labour in the wake of the row last April.
As well as his comments on Hitler, he also claimed Labour MP Naz Shah had been the victim of a smear campaign by the “Israel lobby” after she was suspended for sharing anti-Semitic posts on Facebook. She has since apologised.
After a day of extraordinary incidents – including Mr Livingstone being interrupted during a radio interview by Labour MP John Mann telling him he was a “Nazi apologist” – he was suspended by Labour for “bringing the party into disrepute”.
But in a 17-page submission to Labour's National Constitutional Committee, Mr Livingstone said his remarks had been designed to defend Labour, Jeremy Corbyn and Ms Shah from “vile smears” and “false allegations of anti-Semitism”.
He described the accusations as “essentially a political charge” for being a prominent backer of Mr Corbyn and for supporting Palestinian human rights.
“I have broken no Labour party rule,” Mr Livingstone said. “I am being attacked by the right-wing of the Labour party because I support Palestinian human rights and strongly back our leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“There is no real evidence against me so hopefully the Labour panel will dismiss the charge against me. Only a biased and rigged jury could find against me.”
He added: “It is unfortunate that Labour party officials are pursuing this disciplinary action against me, particularly in such a partisan way. My suspension from the Labour party membership for the past 11 months has significantly breeched [sic] any normal understanding of natural justice.”
“Supporters of Israel, in particular, have called on Labour to expel me, to silence my criticism of Israeli aggression. Some are seeking a type of McCarthyism, where accusations are made without proper regard for evidence in order to restrict political discussion,” he claimed.
Five Jewish members of Labour will be called as witnesses for Mr Livingstone, and he will be defended by the leading human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC.
On his specific comments about Hitler, Mr Livingstone declared that he had “not intended to discuss” the Nazi dictator, but said his claims were a “matter of historical record”.
He said: “I was just pointing out the Nazi policy in relation to the Transfer Agreement had the effect of supporting Zionism.
“I did not say or suggest that Hitler was a Zionist. I did not make any equation of Hitler and Zionism. I neither criticised the Transfer Agreement or the section of Zionism that participated in the Agreement. I did not draw any historical parallels with the situation today anywhere, including with the conflict between Israel and Palestine.
“Any suggestion that my intention was to draw equivalence between Nazism and Zionism is entirely false.”
Read his submission in full here: