Former London mayor Ken Livingstone entered his Labour Party disciplinary hearing on Thursday morning claiming the process was “unfair” because it was being held behind closed doors.

Livingstone, who may be sanctioned for bringing the party into disrepute, could have his Labour membership cancelled, after he conducted a series of media interviews in an attempt to defend MP Naz Shah by talking about Hitler’s links to Zionism.

As he entered his hearing, in front of a three-person panel of National Constitutional Committee members, the former mayor complained that the scheduled two-day affair was not being held in public.

“It’s completely unfair,” he told reporters. “We have a tradition of law and that is open. There’s absolutely no justification for something like this being done in private.”

He added: “They have dropped all the charges that I’m anti-Semitic. They’ve dropped the charge that I said Hitler was a Zionist. It’s really coming down to claiming I brought the party into disrepute by defending Naz Shah. As she’s been readmitted to the party it seems a bit excessive to expel me for supporting her.”

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “Even when it has been made blatantly clear that his comments have caused deep hurt and offence to Jewish people, and in particular to Holocaust survivors, still Ken Livingstone has persisted down this route – repeatedly invoking the Holocaust, promoting a misleading and misinformed version of history to further his agenda. Enough is enough.”