Ken Livingstone has blamed the Jewish Chronicle newspaper for the damage done to the Labour Party after he suggested Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism.
The former mayor of London will today discover whether he will be expelled from Labour for his comments.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Livingstone said the Jewish Chronicle was guilty of “printing a lie” about what he said.
“What caused offence were those people who opened the pages of the Jewish Chronicle and saw the claim I said Hitler was a Zionist, the claim 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.”
Livingstone added that the “main cause” of the row was those Labour MPs who initiated the lie that I said Hitler was a Zionist.
Stephen Pollard, the editor of the JC, dismissed Livingstone’s attack on his newspaper as “bonkers”.
“It’s somewhat surreal to be accused by Ken Livingstone of fomenting an uproar against him by…reporting his words,” he said in a statement.
“Mr Livingstone’s version of this very recent history appears to be as accurate as his version of 1930s and 40s history.”
Pollard added: “Mr Livingstone is entirely the author of his own downfall (if indeed he is expelled from Labour). He had the opportunity to apologise and say his history had been confused. Instead, he doubled down, taking every opportunity to mention Hitler and the Zionists in his interviews – an opportunity he still continues to seize, convinced it seems that he is right and every serious historian wrong.”
The row erupted last May just before the local elections, when Livingstone told BBC London that Hitler “was supporting Zionism” before he “went mad”. He has since repeatedly defended the claim.
Livingstone - who has been suspended since April last year - is facing a charge that he engaged in conduct which was “grossly detrimental” to the party.
His case is being decided on by Labour’s national constitution committee, which heard two days of evidence behind closed doors before adjourning on Friday.