Ken Livingstone: an apology

I have today received an apology in the High Court for false and defamatory statements made about me by Ken Livingstone in his recent autobiography, You Can’t Say That. Other redress has also been agreed. Presumably to save face, Ken’s side insisted that this remain confidential.

In the book, reviewed here, Ken wrote that I was “shown the door” by my previous employer, the Evening Standard, after writing “lies” about the allocation of grants by his administration and the behaviour of his race adviser, Lee Jasper. Ken also claimed that the Standard had repudiated my stories in editorials which “said there had been no corruption or cronyism at City Hall.”

Alas, it wasn’t me who was lying. As the Standard said in its own review of the book,  I wasn’t “shown the door.” I left of my own volition to join the Telegraph. No such editorials were printed. The stories won the top award in British print journalism that year and remain available on the paper’s website. Like this one, for instance, which triggered Jasper’s resignation after I revealed that he had channelled vast sums of money, for no clear purpose, to organisations run by a woman he secretly wanted to “honey glaze.” Ken has never been able to challenge a single word that I actually wrote, as opposed to the various misrepresentations of it that he has made.

I started a claim for libel and this afternoon came the inevitable end – a statement in open court by the publishers of You Can’t Say That, apologising for Ken’s lies. It’s not the first time the majesty of the law has extracted that which no mortal hand can manage. A couple of years ago, humble pie was served courtesy of the former Tower Hamlets leader, Michael Keith, who got damages for being called an “Islamophobe” by Ken.

I particularly want to thank my excellent lawyers, Korieh Duodu, David Price and Julia Varley of David Price Solicitors and Advocates, who got me precisely the result I wanted.

Being lied about by liars is an occupational hazard of my job. But anyone tempted to follow Livingstone’s example should be in no doubt that I will defend my reputation and journalism. As for Ken, he has today learned that there are indeed some things you can’t say.


Cutty Sark horror nominated as worst new building in Britain

Cutty Sark
The lovely new Cutty Sark

The Carbuncle Cup is the one no architect wants to win. Awarded by the architecture trade journal Building Design, it punishes the very worst of new British buildings every year, and I am delighted to see that the destruction of the Cutty Sark by Grimshaw & Partners has made the nominations list.

In what has rightly been described by one commenter as a “cultural crime,” the 1869 tea-clipper has had a glass lift punched through it and two more run up its side in a blobby new tower-block. It has been dangled on girders twenty feet in the air and a giant smoked-glass screen run all around it, obliterating the ship’s thrilling lines, in order to create a space they can hire out for corporate events. The whole thing has cost £50 million, double the planned budget, the vast majority of it from the public purse. You can read my full account of this heartbreaking disaster here.

But in the meantime, please do visit the Carbuncle Cup page on the Building Design website and make a comment: the schemes with the most comments will go through to the shortlist.


Lutfur Rahman councillors expelled from Labour after Ken Livingstone's defeat
Lutfur Rahmen, Tower Hamlet's controversial mayor

Tower Hamlets Labour Party announced last week that it had expelled five councillors for supporting Lutfur Rahman, the borough’s extremist-linked mayor. The five – Kabir Ahmed, Rofique Ahmed, Abdul Asad, Shafiqul Haque and the tax-dodging Shahed Ali – campaigned for Lutfur’s candidate, Ghulam Robbani, against the official Labour man in a rather controversial byelection in April. (More news about the many voting irregularities at that byelection shortly).

The slightly odd thing is that four of those expelled in fact first got into bed with Lutfur almost a year ago, when they joined his council cabinet – purely for the good of the community, no doubt, and I’m sure the extra “responsibility allowances” had nothing to do with it. Why weren’t they kicked out then? Presumably because one Ken Livingstone (remember him?) was still on the scene at the time, with an embarrassing campaigning-for-Lutfur history of his own. If Ken had won the mayoral election, he would almost certainly have exerted pressure to bring Lutfur back into the Labour Party, something he’s long sought. But, of course, he didn’t win.

I think the wider meaning of these expulsions is two-fold. First, London Labour’s forces of sanity are gaining the upper hand. The party is moving away from the electoral suicide of Livingstone, who couldn’t win an election in a left-wing city, in a double-dip recession, with the Tories 19 points behind. And second, Lutfur is further away than ever from his dream of coming back into Labour.

Shahed and the rest have been making the inevitable and desperate cries of racism. Why, they plead, haven’t Lord Sugar and my fellow Telegraph scribe Dan Hodges, both of whom called for a vote against St Ken, been expelled? (Answer: neither of those illustrious figures was elected to public office on a Labour Party ticket.) The expelled councillors’ real problem, of course, is that they have stepped on entirely the wrong bandwagon.