Ken Livingstone suspended by Labour for another year over 'Hitler supported Zionism' comments
Ken Livingstone has been suspended by Labour for another year for claiming Adolf Hitler "supported Zionism".
In a surprise decision, the party's National Constitutional Committee decided not to expel him despite finding him guilty of three counts of bringing the party into disrepute.
Instead, his membership was suspended for two years - but he has already served one of those after initially being carpeted last April.
A delighted Mr Livingstone said: "I do think it's important that the Labour party should not expel or suspend people for telling the truth."
He said the disciplinary committee had told him that in light of his "long contribution to the party", he would be suspended rather than expelled.
The decision is likely to infuriate many Labour MPs as well as members of the Jewish community, who were furious at his comments on BBC London a year ago.
He claimed that Hitler "was supporting Zionism…before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews".
Mr Livingstone then made a series of broadcast appearances defending his remarks, claiming they were historically accurate and that he was the subject of a targeted smear campaign.
He has also accused the "Israel lobby" of trying to damage his reputation because of his lifelong support for the Palestinians.
In a statement, Labour said: "The National Constitutional Committee (NCC) of the Labour party has today found that all three charges of a breach of the Labour Party's rule 2.1.8 by Ken Livingstone have been found proved.
"The NCC consequently determined that the sanction for the breach of Labour party rules will be suspension from holding office and representation within the Labour Party for two years. Taking account of the period of administrative suspension already served the period of suspension will end on 27 April 2018.
"The Labour party will make no further comment on this matter."
Speaking before his three-day disciplinary hearing, Mr Livingstone made more claims about the SS training Zionists and selling them weapons.
"[Hitler] didn’t just sign the deal, the SS set up training camps so that German Jews who were going to go there could be trained to cope with a very different sort of country when they got there,” he told reporters.
"When the Zionist movement asked would the Nazi government stop a Jewish rabbi doing their sermons in Yiddish and make them do it in Hebrew they agreed to that.
They passed a law saying only the Zionist flag and the Swastika were the only flags that could be flown in Germany. And then of course they started selling Mauser pistols to the underground Jewish army. So you had right up until the start of the Second World War real collaboration.
"And when in July 1937 many senior Nazis gathered at their foreign office saying we should stop sending Jews to Palestine because it could create a Jewish state, in the middle of that meeting a directive comes specifically from Hitler saying ‘no we will continue with this policy’. And everyone who studies history knows this."
JEWISH CHRONICLE 'TO BLAME'
Speaking to the Today programme this morning, Mr Livingstone made further claims and blamed the Jewish Chronicle for the row.
"The Gestapo worked with Israeli agents in Mossad to secretly migrate 10,000 German Jews to Palestine," he explained.
"What caused offence were those people who opened the page of the Jewish Chronicle and saw the claim that I said Hitler was a Zionist, the claim that I said Jews were the same as Nazis, and one week later the article saying I had said that hating Jews in Israel wasn't anti-Semitic - none of that is true."
He said the Jewish Chronicle alone was not to blame, adding: "The main cause of all of this were those Labour MPs who initiated the lie that I'd said Hitler was a Zionist."
Michael Dugher MP, vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel, said: "Ken Livingstone should be kicked out for good. Years of supposed long service and closeness to the leadership do not entitle you to a free pass when it comes to anti-Semitism.
"Labour have spent 12 months investigating what to every sensible person is an open-and-shut case. This looks like an embarrassing fudge. The Jewish Board of Deputies said it was anti-Semitism, as did the Holocaust Education Trust, the Jewish Labour Movement and the chief rabbi.
"Is the party really saying it knows more about anti-Semitism than the chief rabbi? The current reluctance of the party to apparently take swift and severe action against Livingstone does us no credit whatsoever."