Labour is to launch a new investigation into Ken Livingstone’s behaviour in the wake of his suspension from the party over controversial comments regarding Adolf Hitler and Zionism, Jeremy Corbyn has said.
After a decision not to expel Mr Livingstone provoked uproar among MPs and senior members of the shadow cabinet, Mr Corbyn said the party’s National Executive Committee would investigate the ex-mayor’s comments since the disciplinary decision was announced.
Mr Corbyn said: “It is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused.
“Many people are understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks which could open him to further disciplinary action.
“Since initiating the disciplinary process, I have not interfered with it and respect the independence of the party’s disciplinary bodies.
“But Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the National Executive Committee after representations from party members.”
Mr Corbyn, a long-time ally of the ex-mayor, added: “Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community.”
The intervention came as more than 30 Labour MPs publicly attacked the ruling of the party’s disciplinary panel, and deputy leader Tom Watson said of the decision: “This shames us all.”
Labour’s shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti said she was “horrified” by the way Mr Livingstone had behaved in the aftermath of the move, as she warned this could be grounds for renewed action against him.
Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer insisted Mr Livingstone should have been expelled, as other MPs demanded the party’s National Executive Committee review the decision.
Mr Livingstone has vowed to campaign against his suspension for a further year, insisting he had told the historical truth, and would now consult lawyers on his legal position.
“You can’t apologise for telling the truth. I will be launching a campaign to overturn my suspension of party membership.”
Mr Livingstone was suspended in April last year after claiming Hitler supported Zionism in the 1930s before he ‘’went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’’.
Mr Livingstone insisted he had never said Hitler was a Zionist, only that Hitler had supported Zionism at one time.
Mr Watson’s outspoken condemnation of the “incomprehensible” disciplinary ruling came after the Chief Rabbi accused the party of “failing the Jewish community” by not expelling the ex-London mayor over the controversial remarks.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “This was a chance for the Labour Party to show that it would not tolerate wilful and unapologetic baiting of the Jewish community, by shamefully using the Holocaust as a tool with which to inflict the maximum amount of offence.”