Monday, June 3, 2024

British ambassador sacked after pointing an assault rifle at embassy employee

The British ambassador to Mexico was reportedly fired earlier this year after he pointed an assault rifle at an embassy employee while on an official trip to Durango and Sinaloa.

The incident inside a vehicle was captured on video and posted to the social platform X this week by an account created this month with the handle @subdiplomatic.

“British Ambassador to Mexico, Jon Benjamin, points a semi automatic weapon at concerned Mexican staff member. In a context of daily killings in Mexico by drug dealers, he dares to joke,” says a message above the five-second clip.

Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, the Financial Times reported Friday that Benjamin lost his job “soon after the episode in April.”

The newspaper noted that Benjamin no longer appears as the ambassador to Mexico on the U.K. government website, with the former deputy head of mission, Rachel Brazier, now listed as the chargé d’affaires.

The Times said that “foreign officials visiting dangerous parts of Mexico typically travel with armed staff for protection.”

Thus, the weapon Benjamin pointed at an embassy employee likely belonged to security personnel protecting him as he toured northern Mexico, parts of which are notorious for cartel activity.

The U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said that it was aware of the incident and has taken “appropriate action.”

“Where internal issues do arise the FCDO has robust HR processes to address them,” the government department said.

The Financial Times said that Benjamin “remained a Commonwealth and Development Office employee after his removal as ambassador.”

Former U.K. ambassador to Mexico Jonathan Benjamin
Former U.K. ambassador to Mexico Jonathan Benjamin. (Government of the United Kingdom)

The British Embassy in Mexico City hasn’t publicly commented on the affair.

The Financial Times reported that the @subdiplomatic X account is “apparently controlled by employees of the embassy angry over mistreatment of local staff.”

One post says that the “British Embassy in Mexico has a history of hiding things to the public including how Jon Benjamin’s attitude of being ‘above everything’ has resulted in the systematic harassment of Mexican staff.”

Another post says that the embassy’s Mexican staff members are “terrified of speaking up about these injustices because internal whistleblowing tools are broken and favor British Diplomats.”

“They are afraid to lose their livelihoods if they speak up,” the post adds.

A @subdiplomatic post from last Monday says that the embassy is “apparently trying to cover [up] the [gun-pointing] scandal just a week ahead of the Mexican elections.”

On his LinkedIn page, Benjamin describes himself as a “diplomat of 38 years standing” and says he has been “part of the Foreign Office’s senior management since 2002.”

He previously served as U.K. ambassador to Chile and Ghana and before that had postings in Indonesia, Turkey and the United States.

Benjamin became British ambassador to Mexico in 2021 and frequently posted updates about his activities to social media.

“Entering Sinaloa, the 29th of Mexico’s 32 States I’ve visited so far,” he said in a LinkedIn post last month.

The Financial Times said that Benjamin didn’t immediately respond to its requests for comment on his dismissal and its circumstances. Posts to his X account are currently only visible to approved followers.

With reports from The Financial Times 


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