Saturday, September 26, 2009
British diplomat Rowan Laxton is convicted of 'racial harassment' over his use of strong language in protest at Israel's offensive against the Gaza Strip at the turn of the year.
Laxton reportedly used "offensive language against Israel and Jews" after watching a report about the Gaza war on television, while exercising in a gym on January 27.
The now suspended head of the South Asia desk of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) also said that all Israeli soldiers "should be wiped off the map."
Upon a complaint made by two gym-users to the police, the diplomat was arrested on charges of 'inciting religious hatred' but released on bail until next month.
On Thursday, City of Westminster Magistrates' Court convicted the 48-year-old Laxton of 'aggravated racial harassment' and required him to pay a fine worth 350 pounds.
"A member of FCO staff was convicted... of a public order offence. The FCO takes very seriously any suggestion of inappropriate behavior by its staff," said an FCO spokeswoman.
She said the case would be considered under the FCO's misconduct procedure, but refused to elaborate further.
Laxton, who has already been suspended from his job, could now be sacked. He was also ordered to pay 500 pounds in prosecution costs, but was not ordered to pay compensation.