Senior U.K. diplomat said arrested over anti-Semitic tirad.
A senior diplomat in the British Foreign Office has been arrested for inciting religious hatred after he launched into an anti-Semitic tirade at a London gym, the Daily Mail reported on Monday.
Witnesses told the British newspaper they heard diplomat Rowan Laxton shouting “f**king Israelis, f**king Jews” while watching a TV report of Israel Defense Forces operations in Gaza from the seat of an exercise bike.
He also reportedly shouted that IDF soldiers should be “wiped off the face of the Earth.”
The Daily Mail said Laxton continued the tirade even after he was approached by other gym users.
A complaint was later filed to police and Laxton was arrested and charged with inciting religious hatred, which carries a maximum seven-year prison term. He has since been released on bail.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said in response to a query by Haaretz that, “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. It is not appropriate to comment further until the Police have finished their enquiries.”
Laxton is in charge of the South Asia Group at the Foreign office, where he is in charge of United Kingdom diplomacy for the region, according to the Daily Mail. His boss, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, is Jewish.
Laxton, who married a Muslim woman in 2000 and has lived in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, is considered an expert on the Middle East.
The British newspaper quotes Mark Gardner, deputy director of the Community Security Trust, a group that monitors anti-Semitism, as saying: “This alleged case is particularly shocking, given the position held by the civil servant in question.”
The Daily Mail said that in response to a query on Monday, Laxton denied that his comments were anti-Semitic, but dodged answering whether they were anti-Israel.