UK government

Race rant diplomat back at Foreign Office

By Leon Symons, December 3, 2009

A senior diplomat convicted of racially aggravated harassment for a foul-mouthed anti-Israeli rant in a gym has been given a new role at the Foreign Office.

Rowan Laxton, 48, the then head of the South Asia desk at the FO, was exercising in a gym when saw a television report during Israel’s action in Gaza and shouted “f------ Israelis, f------ Jews”.

Two men exercising elsewhere overheard him, complained to staff and Mr Laxton was arrested and charged subsequently. He was also suspended from his post at the FO.

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MP Andrew Dismore fights back over expenses

By Martin Bright, November 26, 2009

Labour’s Andrew Dismore, MP for Hendon in north-west London, has fought back against claims that he abused the parliamentary allowance system.

Speaking exclusively to the JC, Mr Dismore said he was the victim of a smear campaign targeting members of the Commons Standards and Privileges committee, on which he serves.

The Daily Telegraph claimed the Hendon MP claimed for 5,360 miles of car journeys (the equivalent of three return journeys a day). It is also alleged that Mr Dismore split £65,000 of second home allowances between two properties in London.

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Ex- ambassador criticises Jews on Iraq inquiry

By Jessica Elgot, November 23, 2009

The former British ambassador to Libya, Sir Oliver Miles, has criticised the appointment of two leading Jews to the Iraq inquiry.

Sir Oliver drew attention to the appointment of Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer Sir Martin Gilbert, and the war historian and ‘Blair doctrine’ architect Sir Lawrence Freedman, who advocated humanitarian intervention in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The two men will be made privy counsellors in order to sit on the inquiry committee.

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Dispatches Israel lobby film: The reaction

By Martin Bright, November 19, 2009

Jewish organisations have reacted angrily to a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary claiming to expose an “Israel lobby” working to buy influence with UK politicians and journalists. The Board of Deputies has raised concerns that the programme has already sparked a slew of antisemitism.

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UK, US critical of new home building in Jerusalem

By Jessica Elgot, November 18, 2009

The British and US governments and the United Nations have denounced plans approved by Israel to build 900 homes in Gilo, a neighbourhood in Jerusalem.

The building has been approved by the Israeli Interior Ministry has approved the expansion of the neighbourhood in south west Jerusalem.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The Foreign Secretary has been very clear that a credible deal involves Jerusalem as a shared capital. Expanding settlements on occupied land in East Jerusalem makes that deal much harder. So this decision is wrong and we oppose it."

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New legal right for victims of Nazi looters

By Jessica Elgot, November 13, 2009

A new bill, which will allow art looted by the Nazis and found in British museums to be returned to its original owners, has passed into law today.

Labour’s Andrew Dismore, MP for Hendon, first sponsored the Holocaust (Stolen Art) Restitution Act, which has now been given Royal Assent.

He said: “It shows what could be achieved by a determined backbencher: by rolling out my sleeping bag and sleeping on the floor of the Public Bill Office overnight, I was able to become the first in the queue to apply for Second Readings after the balloted Bills, and this tactic paid off.

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Whitehall in turmoil over Muslim advisers

By Martin Bright, November 12, 2009

An ideological battle has broken out in Whitehall over the advice given to ministers on Islamic radicalism.

A series of recent changes of personnel and promotions at key departments has led to concerns that the government is moving away from a policy of dialogue with moderates towards a policy of engagement with more radical groups.

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Labour MP pulls out of pro-Palestine event

By Jessica Elgot, November 11, 2009

Labour MP Neil Gerrard has pulled out of a pro-Hamas rally, which will be attended by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Tonge, after an anti-racism group asked him to withdraw.

Mr Gerrard told the anti-fascist group Nothing British About the BNP that he would not attend the event organised by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC).

He claimed this was because of “substantial evidence” that far-right Hungarian MP Kristina Morvai would be attending.

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Alan Sugar: Small business are 'moaners'

By Jessica Elgot, November 4, 2009

Alan Sugar has faced calls for his resignation as government enterprise 'tsar' over derogatory comments he made at a conference about small businesses, callling them "moaners".

Lord Sugar, who is the star of the BBC's The Apprentice, came under fire from the Federation of Small Businesses Liberal Democrats after the comments, made at a conference in Manchester for small to medium businesses.

He allegedly told the delegates: "I can honestly say a lot of problems you hear from people who are moaning [about the recession] are from companies I wouldn't lend a penny to.

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BNP banned from Parliament

October 21, 2009

Following action by John Mann MP and a vote in the House of Commons, MEPs including the BNP’s Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons will be denied Parliamentary passes and access to House of Commons facilities thus putting an end to a 20 year precedent.

Mr Mann’s early day motion was signed by dozens of parliamentary colleagues. It noted that while Euro MPs had traditionally been granted passes to the Houses of Parliament, the reverse was not true for UK MPs trying to access European parliamentary services.

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