Ken Livingstone has strongly denied claims that an article in his name published by the JC in the wake of comments he made about Jews was written without his knowledge.
Mr Livingstone told the JC that the article, written in 2012, which addressed the accusation that he had said the Jewish community would not vote for him because they were rich, would never have been sent “without me agreeing it… no one would dare do that”.
The former London Mayor was responding to a claim published on social media today by Adam Langleben, a Jewish Labour councillor for West Hendon.
Mr Langleben was present at the meeting when Mr Livingstone made his comment, and was one of the people who subsequently wrote to Ed Miliband, then Labour leader, describing what Mr Livingstone had said.
A week later, the JC published an article, in Mr Livingstone’s name, in which he gave his view of what had happened at the meeting.
In his tweets today, Councillor Langleben claimed that in the article Mr Livingstone had apologised for his comment. The councillor said the “apology” had come “out of the blue” and was “completely out of character” for the former London Mayor, who was then campaigning for re-election.
Councillor Langleben then claimed that he had subsequently found out “the truth about this op-ed. Ken never actually signed it off.
“For weeks he refused to do anything to apologise. His aides were tearing their hair out at how much of a p***k he was being and he was making them all question why they were on his team.
“So eventually his aides just wrote a piece and sent it into the JC without getting sign-off from Ken.”
The councillor claimed he had heard the story from three people working in Mr Livingstone’s office at the time, including one who had co-authored the piece in question.
Mr Langleben claimed that when Mr Livingstone found out that the article had been sent to the JC, he went “f***ing ballistic… shouting and screaming in the office; serious anger that no one had seen from him.”
Mr Livingstone then allegedly demanded “that someone give him the number of the Jewish Chronicle so he could personally ensure that it was not published and [tell the paper that] he did not endorse the piece.
“So the plucky and smart aide gave him the number of the Jewish Chronicle. This aide gave Ken the wrong number. But Ken did not know.
“Ken goes on to leave a rambling voicemail message intended for Stephen Pollard [the JC’s editor]
“And some poor old dear will have returned from shopping at Tesco’s to find Ken Livingstone leaving a shouty voicemail on her answer machine.”
The JC did publish the piece, in Mr Livingstone's name, on March 29, 2012. Five weeks later, Mr Livingstone lost the London mayoral election against the Conservative’s Boris Johnson, for the second time in a row.
However, Mr Livingstone told the JC today that “no one would dare do that [send an article without clearing it with him].”
“It was only me and Simon Fletcher [at the time an advisor to the former London Mayor] at the meeting. So we’re the only two who knew what was said.
“It would have had to have been me or Simon, and Simon would never write anything without my agreeing it.”
Responding to Mr Livingstone’s denial, Councillor Langleben said that he stood by his claim.