Rowan Laxton – Invisible Civil Servant

23 03 2010

Category: Anti-Semitism, Law, Middle East, Politics, Rowan Laxton

 

(Update – In March 2010 Rowan Laxton was acquitted of racially aggravated public disorder after a retrial – see here for more)

Senior Foreign Office staff are listed on the internet. Here is a chart of of the top level of the Foreign Office from July 2009 – FCO Senior Management . The spot where Rowan Laxton ought to have been (Political; South Asia) is filled by Philip Barton, listed, diplomatically, as ‘Additional Director’ because Laxton was suspended pending his trial for public disorder.

Having been convicted of that offence, Laxton returned to the Foreign Office, but to what role? We don’t know and we’re not allowed to know.

Influence

This is important because it restricts what kind of job he can be doing…

He is based in London – I know that from other sources.

Staying unlisted in the background restricts him to a policy and strategy role which means that having displayed his lack of restraint, intolerance and anti-semitism, and been convicted, he has returned to a position that is more influential at guiding British foreign policy than before.

The Foreign Office faced a problem – what to do with this lifelong diplomat who seemed to be having some personal problems. Their reaction was to close ranks, protect him and protect themselves.

The problem is that it wasn’t simply a personal issue – it was a public revelation, and in closing ranks they put Laxton’s interests and the Foreign Office’s own corporate interests above the public interest.

Transparency

We know that before his suspension he was Director of the South Asia Group at the level of Director (SMS2) on between £80,000 and £160,000. Before that we know he was Deputy Head of the South Asia Group, Deputy Head of Mission in Kabul, and Head of Chancery in Islamabad. He has been with the Foreign Office since 1993.

But now we know nothing. It’s all very well telling us how committed to openness everyone in government is and trumpeting freedom of information but it all starts to look very hollow when you start hiding your senior officials away.

Lawyer

It’s unrelated to this post, but while I’m on the subject of Rowan Laxton there was an aspect of his trial in September 2009 that hasn’t been mentioned; the man who represented him. The criminal charge he faced was trivial – shouting abuse in a gym. His lawyer was used to weightier matters.

Mr Laxton went to Matrix Chambers and instructed Julian Knowles who has worked on some of the highest profile cases in the last decade. These cases are taken from his CV:

  • membership of the Real IRA
  • membership of al-Queda
  • al-Megrahi (the Lockerbie bombing case)
  • Al-Queda conspiracy
  • conspiracy to cause explosions on the Paris Metro
  • extradition of General Pinochet
  • death of Jean Charles De Menezes

He also was also involved in a case where the Foreign Office tried to prosecute Derek Pasquill who was concerned at islamist infiltration into the Foreign Office, previously mentioned here.

Also from his CV are these testimonials:

A panel of experts in the Independent on Sunday described Julian as ‘demonstrating all-round brilliance’. In 2000, the Scotsman newspaper described Julian as being among a group of ‘the world’s most formidable lawyers’

He certainly had the best possible representation.

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