Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has claimed that Blairite MPs have deliberately misrepresented his comments around Zionism and Adolf Hitler in a bid to undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Livingstone's comments came as part of a Home Affairs Committee probe into the broader issue of anti-semitism, with the former London mayor asked to give evidence following his own interventions after the suspension of Bradford MP Naz Shah.
In April, Livingstone said he had never seen evidence of anti-semitism in the Labour party in 47 years, adding: "Let’s remember when Hitler won his election … his policy was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism."
Since then, he has resisted calls to apologise, and facing MPs today, Livingstone argued that if he had stated "Hitler was a Zionist", instead of suggesting that the Nazi leader "supported Zionism", then he would have shown contrition.
"Anyone who has been upset by what I say – I apologise. But what I said is true. Hitler supported Zionism," Livingstone said.
"A handful of Labour MPs used this issue, deliberately lied about what I said, and smeared me because they wish to undermine the leader of the Labour party. They should be the ones being suspended."
He added: "If I could go back in time and avoid referring to Hitler and Zionism then I would. It allowed all the anti-Jeremy people in the Labour party to start whipping this up as a bigger issue."
Livingstone's refusal to apologise led Labour's Chuka Umunna to attacked the former Brent MP.
"By needlessly and repeatedly offending Jewish people in this way you've not only betrayed our Labour values you've betrayed your legacy as mayor," Umunna said.
And in closing remarks, committee chairman Keith Vaz told Livingstone: "The committee feels that you are unconvincing on the issue of anti-semitism.
Acknowledging that Livinstone had apologised for offence, Vaz added: "You seem not to accept the reasons why [people] are upset."