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Bob Crow demands apology from Boris Johnson for wrongly suggesting link with Ken Livingston


Bob Crow threatens to sue Boris Johnson over crony claims
The militant rail union leader Bob Crow has threatened to sue Boris Johnson, saying it is "offensive," "malicious" and "defamatory" for the mayor of London to associate him with Ken Livingstone.
Lawyers for rail union leader Bob Crow have said the association with Livingston has a negative effect on his reputation 7:15AM BST 25 Mar 2012
Solicitors for Mr Crow have written to Mr Johnson, demanding a public apology for campaign posters on which the RMT leader's name appears alongside a picture of Mr Livingstone, Labour's candidate for the mayoralty.

In a "letter of claim" sent under the "pre-action protocol for defamation," the lawyers say that making the link with Mr Livingstone has "harmed the standing of the RMT as a union" and had "a negative impact on Mr Crow's reputation among his membership and with the public at large." In the letter, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, they insist that Mr Crow "has not supported Mr Livingstone's campaign as Labour candidate" and "disagrees with him" on some issues.

A spokesman for the Johnson campaign said: "We knew Ken was a controversial character. But if even Bob Crow is worried about being associated with him, things must be getting serious."

After level-pegging with Mr Johnson, Mr Livingstone has slipped behind in the latest poll after The Sunday Telegraph revealed that he avoided at least £50,000 in tax by channelling his six-figure income through a personal company, paying corporation tax at 20 or 21 per cent instead of income tax at up to 50 per cent.

Mr Livingstone has condemned tax avoiders as "rich bastards" who "should not be allowed to vote." The poll shows that almost a third of Labour supporters will not support him in May's election.

ReThe Johnson posters, displayed on billboards and issued as A5 leaflets, are headlined "Not Ken Again." They say that Mr Livingstone "wants to come back with his council tax rises, broken promises, cronies, scandals, waste [and] Bob Crow."

The lawyers say that the material paints Mr Crow as "part of a corrupt, venal, scandalous, wasteful group of cronies" and claims him to be "under the control and/or influence of Ken Livingstone, rather than fulfilling his duties to promote first and foremost the interests of his membership."

Mr Livingstone has close links with three of the four Tube unions, who have paid him about £140,000 in campaign donations over the past three elections. His relationship with the RMT has been more complicated. As mayor he put Mr Crow on the Transport for London board, but subsequently fell out with the union, which is not affiliated to Labour.

Since his defeat in 2008, however, the two appear to have rebuilt relations. Mr Crow described Mr Livingstone as a "good bloke" from whom he has "never been apart" and offered to fund his campaign, though the offer does not appear to have been accepted.

Mr Crow's far-Left Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, where he is a member of the national steering committee, is backing Mr Livingstone for the mayoralty, even though it will stand candidates against Labour for the London Assembly. Mr Livingstone has refused to oppose any of the RMT's frequent strikes or threats of strikes for higher pay.

Mr Johnson, who wants to introduce driverless trains on the Tube, believes he can use Mr Livingstone's links with the "greedy" unions against him. Tube drivers already enjoy packages worth up to £61,000 a year and seven weeks' holiday but last week the RMT refused an offer of an £850 "bonus" per member for working normally during the Olympics. The union is holding out for £2,000

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