Foreign Office man guilty of racist rant

By Leon Symons, September 24, 2009
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Rowan Laxton

Rowan Laxton

Foreign Office civil servant Rowan Laxton has been found guilty of uttering a foul-mouthed anti-Israel rant at a gymnasium during Operation Cast lead in January.

District judge Howard Riddle fined Laxton, 48, £350 with £500 costs at Westminster Magistrates Court.

His counsel, Julian Knowles, said afterwards: “Mr Laxton is very disappointed by the outcome and he will be considering his next steps with his legal team.”

The court had heard previously how Laxton had arrived at the London Business School gymnasium at about 8am on January 27. In evidence, another gym user, Gideon Falter, said he heard someone shouting “f------ Israelis, f------ Jews” from above him. Laxton then came down and the pair spoke.

Giving evidence, Laxton denied saying “f------ Jews” and said he apologised to Mr Falter. He also expressed regret for the way he spoke and denied that he was antisemitic.

He said he had been upset after settling a “difficult” divorce from his Muslim wife. But the trigger for his outburst was seeing a television news report about a farmer being killed in Gaza.

Giving his reasons in writing, the judge said Laxton’s outburst was “not a legitimate protest; it was an emotional reaction” and that it was hard to imagine when saying “f------ Jews” in an gym used by other people could be considered reasonable.

Last updated: 3:41pm, September 24 2009