This is a cross-post from Denry
It’s ironic that minutes after publishing a post noting that Rowan Laxton had the very best legal representation there is, word came through to me that his conviction had been overturned on appeal.
The appeal was heard at Southwark Crown Court on 5th March 2010.
There is an automatic right of appeal from a conviction at the magistrates’ court. It’s called an appeal but it is actually a rehearing of the case from scratch in front of a judge and two lay magistrates (members of the public). The judgment can be unanimous, or the view of any two of the three (i.e. the judge’s vote is equal to the lay magistrates).
Well, there we are; no criminal conviction. A criminal conviction should always be a last resort and to give someone of his age and standing a criminal record was perhaps not a punishment fitting to his behaviour.
But at least a criminal conviction is a mark of social disaproval. Now we who disaprove of his behaviour, and feel it may represent a deeper problem, have nothing to reassure us.
There is a relieved senior civil servant who no doubt feels he can get back to his real work at the Foreign Office, and a Foreign Office relieved that it no longer has to concern itself with this matter.
But the words were said. And they were bad words that revealed bad thoughts cloaked in righteous indignation.
The only reassurance I can take in this matter are the words of District Judge Howard Riddle at the original trial:
“It is hard to imagine the circumstances when saying ‘f*****g Jews’ in a gym used by other people, and overheard by two strangers 20 ft away, could be considered reasonable.”