High-ranking Foreign Office diplomat arrested over anti-Semitic gym tirade

A high-ranking diplomat at the Foreign Office has been arrested after allegations that he launched a foul-mouthed anti-Semitic tirade.

Middle East expert Rowan Laxton, 47, was watching TV reports of the Israeli attack on Gaza as he used an exercise bike in a gym.

Stunned staff and gym members allegedly heard him shout: 'F**king Israelis, f**king Jews'. It is alleged he also said Israeli soldiers should be 'wiped off the face of the earth'.
His rant reportedly continued even after he was approached by other gym users.

After a complaint was made to police, Mr Laxton was arrested for inciting religious hatred through threatening words and behaviour and bailed until late next month.

The maximum penalty for inciting religious hatred is a seven-year prison term or a fine or both.

Mr Laxton, who is still working normally, is head of the South Asia Group at the Foreign Office, on a salary of around £70,000.

He is responsible for all the UK's diplomacy in that area and for briefing Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who is Jewish.

Mr Laxton has worked extensively in the Middle East - he married a Muslim woman in 2000 - and has been deputy ambassador to Afghanistan.

The case could not have come at a worse time for the Foreign Office. Next week, Britain is hosting an international summit on combating anti-Semitism, with politicians from 35 countries....


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