Ken Livingstone stands by Hitler 'Zionist' comments - but apologises for 'disruption to party'

Ken Livingstone defended his comments on LBC Credit: LBC

Ken Livingstone has refused to apologise for his comments that Adolf Hitler was "supporting Zionism" when he rose to power in the 1930s, despite accusations that they were anti-Semetic.

But the former London mayor said he is regretted the "disruption" caused to the Labour Party in the wake of his remarks.

Speaking to LBC, Mr Livingstone also insisted that he is not anti-Semetic and had been stating "historical fact".

"I'm always gonna say what I believe to be true, otherwise what's the point in being in politics", he added.

Mr Livingstone discussed the issue with host David Mellor and political journalist Michael Crick. Credit: LBC

Mr Livingstone said he was sorry if his views had upset Jewish people but that he had simply made a "statement of fact" that had been repeated two days before by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"How can I have hurt and offended the Jewish community when the prime minister of Israel said exactly the same thing?", he said.

Insisting that he is not anti-Semetic, Mr Livingstone said: "I'm really sorry to Jeremy and to the Labour Party while they're campaigning, I got caught up in all of this."

However, Mr Livingstone insisted that he was "really sorry to Jeremy and to the Labour Party while they're campaigning, I got caught up in all of this".

He declined to apologise for his comments but conceded that he "really regrets mentioning Hitler because it's turned into all this's just a question of historical debate".

Jeremy Corbyn is to hold an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in the Labour Party. Credit: PA

Asked by host David Mellor about his conversations with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of the row over his comments, Mr Livingstone said: "Clearly, he's not happy, he had to cope with all of this while he's touring, drumming up support."

Mr Livingstone has been suspended by Labour for "bringing the party into disrepute".

He had made the comments while attempting to defend MP Naz Shah, who was also suspended for alleged anti-Semitism.

Naz Shah was suspended over social media posts said to be anti-Semitic.

When repeatedly pressed to apologise for his comments by both Mr Mellor and political journalist Michael Crick, Mr Livingstone remained defiant.

He added that he was confident of being cleared to return to the party ranks after an investigation despite widespread calls for his expulsion, as there could be no evidence that he was anti-Semitic.

He also said that he will not be doing anymore interviews on the issue after this morning because "the Labour party's gotta get away from all this nonsense and back onto getting the vote out on Thursday".

Mr Corbyn is to propose a new code of conduct for the Labour party that will make clear there is "no place" for anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in the party.

In an interview with the Guardian, he said Labour was "an anti-racist party to its core" and had a "proud history of standing against racism, including anti-Semitism".