Sadiq Khan is cleared of bringing mayoralty into disrepute

Sadiq Khan is cleared of bringing the mayoralty into disrepute when he said some Ulez opponents were ‘joining hands’ with the far-Right during feisty People’s Question Time event

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been cleared of bringing the mayoralty into disrepute when he branded some Ulez opponents as ‘far-Right’ and ‘covid deniers’.

The incendiary comments were made  during a lively People’s Question Time back in March on the introduction of the controversial Ultra Low Emissions Zone expansion – which has generated £5.3million in its first week.

During the bad-tempered session, Mr Khan said: ‘Some of you have got good reasons to oppose Ulez, but you are in coalition with Covid deniers… you may not like it… you are in coalition with the far-Right. And you are in coalition with vaccine deniers as well.’

In the immediate aftermath of the comments, drivers took to social media in their droves today to blast the Mayor’s ‘outrageous’ comments.

Tory assembly member Peter Fortune said on the night: ‘If you disagree with the Mayor, he’s going to paint you as far-Right. His assembly colleague Andrew Boff said: ‘If you disagree with him on Ulez, you get called a Nazi’.

Despite how controversial and provocative the comments were, Mr Khan has been cleared of bringing the mayoralty into disrepute

London mayor Sadiq Khan was holding a People’s Question Time in Ealing when the extraordinary confrontation developed

Despite how controversial and provocative  the comments were, Mr Khan has been cleared of bringing the mayoralty into disrepute. 

The investigation into the comments, which was carried out by barrister Matt Lewin, found that Mr Khan did not breach the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) code of conduct.

The barrister found that Mr Khan and the protesters were exercising their rights to freedom of expression, which is protected by the European Convention of Human Rights and common law.

Mr Lewin said Mr Khan had ‘enhanced protection’ due to the few limits which can be placed on ‘political speech’.

He said: ‘This means that he had a very broad freedom to express his views, including by criticising his political opponents, and even if he did so in a way they perceived to be provocative, unfair or offensive.’ 

He added that it was up to the electorate to decide if what Mr Khan said was fair and justified and also said it was true that ‘some participants in the protest outside PQT were expressing conspiracy theories which are associated with far-Right political views’.

The report also found that Mr Khan did not say that all of the Ulez opponents were part of the far-Right or anti-vaccine protesters. 

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told MailOnline said the expansion of Ulez was a ‘difficult but necessary’ measure which is ‘already working’.

They said: ‘The Mayor has always been clear that expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was a difficult but necessary decision. 

‘Latest data shows it is already working, with 95 per cent of vehicles seen driving in London on an average day now complying with air quality standards, making a huge difference to the lives and health of Londoners. 

Peter Fortune, the Tories’ deputy leader at City Hall, shot back at Mr Khan: ‘If you disagree with the Mayor he’s going to paint you as Far Right.’

The spokesperson also pointed to the Mayor’s expansion of the scrappage scheme which gives Londoners with polluting vehicles access to thousands of pounds in support. 

‘Sadiq has been listening to Londoners with concerns about the scheme, which is why he expanded the scrappage scheme to ensure every Londoner impacted is eligible for thousands of pounds in support.’ they said. 

‘This support is still available for the remaining Londoners still driving non-compliant vehicles. The Mayor welcomes the outcome of the Monitoring Officer’s investigation.’

Neil Garratt AM, Leader of City Hall Conservatives, said: ‘Sadiq Khan’s disparaging comments about the many Londoners who oppose his unfair expansion of ULEZ were unacceptable. 

‘His comments fell short of the standard Londoners expect and deserve and many feel he brought the Mayoralty of our great city into disrepute.

‘Sadiq Khan resorts to insults when he’s lost the argument. We all know the ULEZ expansion is an unfair tax grab on motorists which hits those who can least afford it hardest. It has nothing to do with tackling air pollution.’

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy highlighted ‘placards including swastikas’ apparently being brandished outside the event last night 

The expansion of Ulez to the Greater London Area, which was introduced at the end of August, drew major criticism and protests at the time. 

Motorists across all 29 boroughs now have to pay £12.50 a day to use their car if it does not meet emissions standard. 

Many were up in arms with the measure which added significant expenses during the cost-of-living crisis. 

The Ulez was expanded in an effort to improve London’s air quality which is said to cause diseases such as asthma in Londoners.    

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