Former Labour London mayor Ken Livingstone is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, his family have confirmed.
According to family members who spoke to the PA news agency, 78-year-old Ken Livingstone is “well cared for by his family and friends” while he leads a “private life” in retirement.
In 2000, Mr. Livingstone was chosen as London’s first directly elected mayor, a position he held for eight years.
In 2018, after being accused of antisemitism, which he has vigorously denied, Livingstone resigned from the Labour Party. In recent months, he attempted to sue the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), but this week, he and ex-Labour councillor Pam Bromley agreed with the EHRC for all parties to withdraw their lawsuits and cover their own costs.
In its report into anti-semitism in the Labour Party in October 2020, the EHRC had singled out Mr Livingstone and Ms Bromley for allegedly having “contributed” to “unlawful harassment related to Jewish race and religion.”
The two politicians brought a legal challenge against the equalities watchdog, hoping to overturn parts of the report.
Now, however, the two politicians have accepted a deal offered by the EHRC, in which each side withdraws from the case and bears its own costs. No compensation has been paid and the report will remain unchanged.
Mr Livingstone’s and Ms Bromley’s costs amounted to £35,000 and were funded from a fighting fund established at the end of 2019 by former Labour MP Chris Williamson from the costs he won from the Labour Party.
An EHRC spokesperson said: “We firmly stand by our robust and fair investigation, the findings of which were accepted in full by the Labour Party.
“We welcome the decision to withdraw this judicial review claim, with disappointment at the valuable time and resource that we have had to expend on defending it.”
Writing in the far-left newspaper ‘Morning Star’, Livingstone addressed the withdrawal.
“In its 2020 report into alleged anti-semitism in the Labour Party, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) claimed that we had “contributed” to Labour’s “unlawful harassment” of its Jewish members,” he wrote.
“After a lengthy legal process, in which we challenged the government quango’s finding against us, we have accepted a settlement offer made by the EHRC, bringing the judicial review to a close.
“We firmly support freedom of expression, and we were worried that the purpose of the EHRC report was to shut down criticism of Israel.”
Alzheimer’s is a condition that affects the brain and is the most common cause of dementia.
Dementia can make it difficult to remember things. People might forget who family members are. They might get lost or they may forget what everyday objects are called.
It can make people behave in a way that they’ve never done before. They may become very upset, sad or angry – and find it difficult to deal with these feelings.
Providing an interesting biography of the once popular politician, the BBC said that his election to become mayor ‘wasn’t without complication’.
‘A Labour Party politician, he was not picked by Tony Blair to be its selected candidate. Mr Livingstone declared he would stand as an Independent. He was kicked out of the party and beat Labour’s Frank Dobson.
‘Ken Livingstone’s political ascent had been swift – within two years of joining the Labour Party in 1969, Mr Livingstone was elected as a councillor in his native Lambeth in south London in 1971 before joining the Greater London Council (GLC) in 1973, aged 27.
‘He took up a housing role in which he immediately kicked up a fuss about cuts to the GLC’s house-building budget, and was sacked.
‘In 1981, Labour took control of the council, and he was elected GLC leader.
‘He always claimed his detractors contributed to making him a public figure.
“If [Margaret] Thatcher had just ignored us,” he suggested, “no-one would have ever heard of us.”
‘In 2006, a High Court judge said Mr Livingstone had made “unnecessarily offensive” and “indefensible” remarks likening a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard.
‘He was, however, cleared of bringing the office of mayor into disrepute, a ruling he hailed as a “victory for democracy and common sense”.
Livingstone gave a strong rebuttal of the accusations against him, saying that his words had been intentionally misinterpreted.
‘A decade later, he found himself at the centre of a new storm when he came to the defence of MP Naz Shah who had been suspended over offensive social media posts.
‘Ken Livingstone insisted that, while her remarks were “over the top”, she was not antisemitic, and that he had never encountered antisemitism in 40 years in the Labour Party.
‘His time in office ended in 2008 when he was defeated by another maverick and colourful opponent, Boris Johnson.’
Read the BBC’s brief biography here.