FOmanis guilty of race rant
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