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Foreign Office chief accused of saying:
09-17-2009, 10:03 PM,
Foreign Office chief accused of saying:
From The Times
September 17, 2009
Foreign Office chief accused of saying: Blow Israel off the face of the Earth

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office civil servant told a Jew that the Israelis should be “blown off the face of the Earth” during an altercation at a gymnasium, a court was told yesterday.

Gideon Falter claimed that Rowan Laxton, 48, was also heard to shout “f***ing Israelis, f***ing Jews” while watching a television news report about Israel bombing Gaza as he worked out on an exercise bicycle.

Giving evidence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Mr Falter said he arrived at the London Business School gym shortly after 8am in January and overheard the outburst.

“I started to work out,” he said. “I heard someone shout, ‘F***ing Israelis, f***ing Jews’.

“I could hear that it came from above me. I wanted to see who shouted. I couldn’t see anyone who was particularly aggravated. Mr Laxton came downstairs to the lower part of the mezzanine and I spoke to him.”

Mr Falter claimed that Mr Laxton, head of the South Asia desk in the Foreign Office, admitted that it was him who had launched the tirade before allegedly adding: “It’s not racist. If I had my way, the international community would be sent in and if the Israelis got in the way, they would be blown off the face of the f***ing Earth.”

Giving evidence, Mr Laxton denied saying “f***ing Jews” or that Israel should be blown off the Earth. But he said he had been deeply upset about a Sky News report about an innocent farmer killed by Israeli bombs and believed that international intervention was the solution to the fighting.

He said he immediately apologised to Mr Falter.

Speaking in a quiet voice, Mr Laxton, who is charged with racially aggravated harassment, said: “I am embarrassed, to be honest with you. I offended somebody, I embarrassed the Foreign Office, I’ve caused anxiety to a number of friends and family and in particular I regret using foul language and I regret using imprecise language.

“I regret very much the way in which this case came out in the media and the suggestion that I am anti-Semitic or racist in any way. I am not.”

“I fully accept that my comments suggested I felt that everybody in Israel was somehow responsible for that action.”

The court was told that Mr Laxton had settled a “difficult” divorce with his Muslim wife on the same morning as the incident.

Nick Paul, for the prosecution, suggested that Mr Laxton was upset that the divorce settlement had been unfair to him.

“Yes I was upset, but I do believe the trigger was that I was and I remain deeply upset by seeing what had happened to this individual,” Mr Laxton said. “It was such a terrible story and it seemed to me emblematic of the human tragedy in Gaza.”

Several friends of Mr Laxton, including one whose father died in the Holocaust, told the court that the defendant was not racist or anti-Semitic.

His barrister, Julian Knowles, told the court that his client could not be guilty of inciting religious hatred or causing alarm, harassment or distress because he had no reason to believe anyone could hear him.

When interviewed by police after his arrest, Mr Laxton said: “I was horrified by what I saw and I said, ‘I’m sorry I said it’. I said ’f***ing Israelis’.”

Mr Laxton had initially been told by police that he would be cautioned for the offence before Mr Falter tipped off the media and articles appeared in the press. It was then that the Crown Prosecution Service decided to charge him.

Mr Falter admitted to court that he had contacted the media about the altercation.

Mr Laxton, who answers to David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, has been suspended from his £70,000-a-year job and could be dismissed if found guilty.

The trial continues.
“Everything Popular Is Wrong” - Oscar Wilde
09-18-2009, 12:21 AM,
Foreign Office chief accused of saying:
09-18-2009, 01:41 AM,
Foreign Office chief accused of saying:
09-19-2009, 08:36 AM,
Foreign Office chief accused of saying:
Mr Laxton's apology seems more like complicity after the fact.

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