Livingstone uses Higgins's image in election literature


FORMER MAYOR of London Ken Livingstone has raised eyebrows by using a photograph of him taken with President Michael D Higgins for election literature.

The photograph was taken during President’s Higgins’s visit to London last month after a speech the President gave at the London School of Economics (LSE).

In the London mayoral election literature, which extols Mr Livingstone’s connection with London-based Irish, the photograph is titled “Ken, with the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins”.

It goes on to quote a controversial interview given by his election opponent, mayor of London Boris Johnson, to New Statesman magazine last month.

In the interview, Mr Johnson complained he was angry at Mr Livingstone for spending £20,000 of London taxpayers’ money on a St Patrick’s Day ball, describing it as “a dinner at the Dorchester for Sinn Féin”.

Mr Johnson, despite an initial reluctance to do so, apologised this week, saying he found it “deeply upsetting that people have alleged that I harbour feelings”.

Mr Livingstone sought a private meeting with Mr Higgins during his visit, but this was turned down on the grounds it would have been inappropriate for a head of state during an election campaign.

The former mayor was not present for President Higgins’s speech at the LSE, but came in at the end with a photographer, and left shortly afterwards.

Last night, Áras an Uachtaráin said the photograph was taken at a public event: “There was not contact made about using the photograph in the literature,” The Irish Times was told.

The Irish Embassy in London said: “The main point is that the picture was taken at a public event. (As you know, Livingstone was there for a short time only.)

“Neither the Áras nor the Embassy was contacted in relation to the use of the picture. The President, of course, has no role or position in the mayoral election.”

Questioned about the use of Mr Higgins’s image in election literature, a spokesman for Mr Livingstone’s campaign, Joe Derrett, said: “We are proud to have had the opportunity to have the photograph taken. We have used it on our website and sent it out to press.”