British diplomat arrested for anti-Semitic remarks


LONDON (JTA) — A senior British diplomat was arrested following a complaint about anti-Semitic remarks he made while working out.

Rowan Laxton, the head of the South Asia Group at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was watching television reports on Israel’s military action in Gaza while using an exercise bike at a London gym.

According to the Daily Mail, staff and other gym members allegedly heard him shout "f***ing Israelis, f***ing Jews," as well as that Israeli soldiers should be "wiped off the face of the earth."

Scotland Yard spokesman said a 47-year-old man was arrested in connection with an incident on Jan. 27 following a complaint received by police from a member of the public. He said the man was bailed out pending further inquiries and is due to return at the end of March to a central London police station.

Arrests of those making anti-Semitic remarks are rare in Britain. By law, the maximum penalty for inciting religious hatred is seven years in prison, a fine or both.

Laxton served in the Middle East and is considered an expert on the area.

A  Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said the issue is a police matter and thus the office cannot comment at this stage.

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