BUSINESS QUESTION – ANTI-SEMITISM IN FCO – 10 December 2009
Dr Julian Lewis: During the Holocaust, a Foreign Office official infamously wrote a minute in which he referred to the time being wasted by what he called 'wailing Jews'. When Mr. Rowan Laxton, the head of the South Asia desk at the Foreign Office, was convicted in September of an outburst in which he referred to 'f—g Jews' and was fined £350, his barrister said that that was
‘going to have very grave and long-term consequences'
‘whatever happens in court is secondary to the effect it will have on his career and reputation'.
Given that he has been reinstated in the Foreign Office and appointed to a new job and that that job has not been revealed, may we have a statement confirming that the job will have nothing whatsoever to do with the Middle East?
[The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): In the sort of situation that the hon. Gentleman has raised, which concerns an individual employee of the civil service, I am not in a position to answer the question. However, as regards his overall point about the horror of anti-Semitism, I know that I can look to him to support the measures that we will introduce in the Equality Bill to give proper, strong legal protection so that people are not discriminated against or harassed on the grounds of their religion.]
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LETTER FROM SIR PETER RICKETTS,
PERMANENT UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE,
FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE,
TO JULIAN LEWIS MP, 23 December 2009
Dear Mr Lewis,
You asked about Rowan Laxton in the House on 10 December.
As you know, the FCO suspended Mr Laxton while the criminal case against him was under way. When it was complete, we conducted a disciplinary investigation which concluded that Mr Laxton had behaved in a way inappropriate for a member of the Diplomatic Service. He was given a final written warning. This is a serious sanction under our Misconduct Procedure, which is based on best practice in handling disciplinary cases.
Should he commit another serious offence in the next twelve months he would almost certainly be dismissed.
Mr Laxton is currently working from our corporate pool. He has not yet secured a permanent position. I can assure you that the FCO would not appoint him to a job which involved Middle East issues.
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'CIVIL SERVANT WINS RACE CASE'
By Leon Symons
Jewish Chronicle – 26 March 2010
A senior foreign Office diplomat has won his appeal against a conviction for racially aggravated harassment. Rowan Laxton, 48, was exercising in a gymnasium last year when he saw a TV report about Israel's action in Gaza. Two men elsewhere in the gym claimed that they heard him shout 'f—g Israelis, f—g Jews' at news of the death of a farmer.
They complained to staff and Mr Laxton, who was then Head of the Foreign Office's South Asia Desk, was arrested and then charged. He was also suspended from his post. his appeal was heard by a Crown Court judge and two magistrates at Southwark Crown Court earlier this month, when the prosecution re-presented its entire case.
They decided that Mr Laxton did not say 'f—g Jews', the comment on which the prosecution was based and which he had always denied. They also decided as an alternative ground that he thought no-one was within earshot.