FO­ma­nis guilty of race rant

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY LEON SY­MONS

THE JUDGE who found For­eign Of­fice civil ser­vant Rowan Lax­ton guilty of a foul-mouthed rant in a Lon­don gym­na­sium praised the wit­nesses whose ev­i­dence put him in the dock.

Lax­ton, 48, had de­nied racially ag­gra­vated ha­rass­ment but at West­min­ster Mag­is­trates’ Court, district Judge Howard Rid­dle de­cided he had shouted “f------Is­raelis” and “f------Jews”. Lax­ton was fined £350 with £500 costs.

The men who com­plained and gave ev­i­dence about Lax­ton’s out­burst were stu­dents Gideon Fal­ter and Amer­i­can William Le­maine. Mr Fal­ter was said to have an in­ter­est in Jewish af­fairs at his uni­ver­sity and is a mem­ber of the se­cu­rity com­mit­tee of his syn­a­gogue.

“Theev­i­dencea­gain­sthim­came­from two young men who did not pre­vi­ously know each other and nei­ther of whom knew him or was known to him,” Judge Rid­dle said. “They were both hugely im­pres­sive wit­nesses.”

Lax­ton had ar­rived at the Lon­don Busi­ness School gym­na­sium at about 8am on Jan­uary 27. Giv­ing ev­i­dence, he had de­nied say­ing “f------Jews” and said he apol­o­gised to Mr Fal­ter. He also ex­pressed re­gret for the way he had spo­ken, deny­ing he was an­ti­semitic.

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.

The judge said: “In the con­text of this case there is no doubt that th­ese words were threat­en­ing, abu­sive or in­sult­ing.” 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 a pub­lic gym could be con­sid­ered rea­son­able.

Mr Fal­ter said af­ter­wards: “Every­one is en­ti­tled to voice their opin­ions on the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict, but those who al­low racism to over­power them de­serve the con­se­quences they in­vite.”

A For­eign Of­fice spokesman said the mat­ter would now be con­sid­ered un­der its mis­con­duct pro­ce­dure. “The FCO takes very se­ri­ously any sug­ges­tion of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour by its staff.”

Rowan Lax­ton: foul-mouthed slurs

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