"As the recipient of the biggest electoral mandate of any politician in the country, the mayor of London was never supposed to have his authority undermined by a flock of pigeons. But six years after declaring war on the birds he branded "rats with wings" the mayor is facing fresh scrutiny over the cost and tactics of his campaign to clear them from their famous haunts around Trafalgar Square.
The focus is on Mr Livingstone but more specifically on his hired muscle - a pair of Harris hawks who alternately hover above the square, exuding menace and bad intent. New figures released to London's Liberal Democrats reveal that the mayor's mercenary hawks have killed 121 pigeons since 2003, far exceeding their remit which is merely to scare pigeons away.
There is also the question of whether the campaign has been cost efficient. The controversial action, opposed by animal rights activists from around the world, has seen the number of pigeons congregating in and around Trafalgar Square reduced to 1,000 diehards. Many hail the square as much improved, but the Lib Dems are aggrieved that so far the operation has cost Londoners £226,000. They say that since the hawks were deployed 2,500 pigeons have disappeared in one way or another, bringing the average removal cost to more than £90 a bird."
£90 a bird is peanuts; the Scottish Parliament pays £250 a bird to give them a nice home in the country.