Protest against IDF Gaza op (Archive)
Ambassador Ron Prosor
Photo: John Rifkind
British authorities have detained a Foreign Office diplomat who allegedly uttered anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli profanities last month in anger over the IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip.
The UK's Daily Mail reported Monday that Rowan Laxton, a Middle East expert and head of the South Asia Group, was performing a routine workout on an exercise bike at his gym on January 27 when a report about the fighting in Gaza appeared on television.
Other gym users reported that Laxton then shouted, "Fucking Israelis, fucking Jews", and said that all Israeli soldiers "should be wiped off the map." The Daily Mail reported that the tirade continued even after other gym users approached him.
According to the report, a number of stunned employees reported Laxton to the police. The Oxford-educated diplomat was arrested for inciting religious hatred and released on bail until next month. However he was not discharged from his post at the Foreign Office. The maximum penalty for the offense in Britain is a seven-year prison term coupled with a fine.
Upon inquiry by Ynet, the British Foreign Office stated, "We are unable to comment on a matter that is currently subject to Police enquiries. We are aware that a complaint has been made to the Police about an alleged incident involving a member of our staff. The alleged incident was not in the course of his official duties."
Israel's ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, responded: "From the nature of our work with the British Foreign Office, we recognize that the slander uttered by the British diplomat does not reflect Britain's official policy."
Prosor added that a police investigation had been launched against Laxton, and "if finally it turns out that the diplomat has transgressed, the proper steps will be taken against him."