Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease

20 September 2023, 07:10

Ken Livingstone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s
Ken Livingstone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

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The former mayor, who earned himself the nickname 'Red Ken', is being "well cared for by his family and friends" as he lives a "private life" in retirement.

His family said in a statement: "In response to media enquiries the Livingstone family today announce that Ken Livingstone, ex-MP for Brent and former mayor of London, has been diagnosed with and is living with Alzheimer's disease.

"Although a previously prominent public figure, Ken is now retired and lives a private life. He will no longer be available for any media interviews or requests and we will not be responding to any media questions or enquiries.

"Ken is being well cared for by his family and friends and we ask you for your understanding and to respect his privacy and that of his family."

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Livingstone was given the nickname 'Red Ken'
Livingstone was given the nickname 'Red Ken'. Picture: Alamy

The 78-year-old was a prominent figure in London politics for more than four decades from the 1970s.

He stood as an independent and became the first mayor of London in May 2000 when then-prime minister Sir Tony Blair created the post.

In his second term, which he won as the official Labour candidate, he earned praise for the way he stood up for London after the July 2005 suicide bombings and helped win the 2012 Olympic Games for the capital.

However, Mr Livingstone was later defeated by Boris Johnson and a failed bid to return to office in 2012.

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The Alzheimer's Society has praised Mr Livingstone's family for "being open about his diagnosis".

Chief executive Kate Lee said: "We are really sorry to hear that Ken Livingstone is living with Alzheimer's disease. Our thoughts are with him and his family.

"We can see from the high profile individuals who have recently spoken about their dementia diagnosis, including Alastair Stewart and Fiona Phillips amongst others, how prevalent dementia is. One in three people born in the UK today will go on to develop this devastating condition.

"We're grateful to Ken's family for being open about his diagnosis which will really help increase public understanding. It's crucial we get people talking because a problem of this scale won't go away on its own.

"Receiving a diagnosis can be daunting, but we believe it's better to know. Our website alzheimers.org.uk has plenty of resources, including a downloadable symptoms checklist that people can take with them to their GP."

Alzheimer's Research UK chief executive Hilary Evans said: "We hope this will put a further spotlight on the desperate need to find new treatments for all forms of dementia.

"As it stands, there are no treatments available to slow or stop dementia. But in recent months, we have seen the tide beginning to turn on Alzheimer's disease, with the first ever drugs that can slow its progression showing positive results in clinical trials.

"However while we wait to hear from regulators on whether these drugs are safe and effective, we know more needs to be done, and we'll work tirelessly to bring about a world free of the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia."

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