UK ambassador left post after ‘pointing gun at staff’


The UK ambassador to Mexico reportedly left his post earlier this year after he pointed a gun at a local member of embassy staff.

A video posted on social media, originally reported by the Financial Times, purports to show Jon Benjamin aiming a rifle at another man while looking down the weapon’s sights.

It was captioned: “In [the] context of daily killings in Mexico by drug dealers, he dares to joke.”

Mr Benjamin hasn’t commented so far on what appears to have been a badly misplaced joke.

No official announcement about Mr Benjamin’s position has been made by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). But he is no longer listed as ambassador to Mexico on the government’s official website, which says he was in post “between 2021 and 2024”.

In the video, a man resembling Mr Benjamin can be seen moving a weapon around the car, aiming it at different people. Laughter can be heard in the background. One man is seen gesturing uncomfortably as the weapon is aimed at him.

Mr Benjamin arrived in Mexico from previous postings including Ghana and Chile with a reputation as quite unconventional by the standards of most UK diplomats.

He was very active on social media with a large following on X. He could be quite outspoken, sometimes directly answering followers on issues he was passionate about – particularly African politics, football and rock music. It was part of a more approachable, less stuffy persona than that conveyed by other ambassadors.

In Mexico, as in most of his previous postings, Mr Benjamin was a firm believer in the role of the soft power of British rock and indie music. An avid music fan himself, he encouraged major UK bands and artists to visit Mexico, sometimes hosting them in his residence ahead of their concerts.

For decades, for example, he was the Rolling Stones’ chief point of contact within the FCDO, helping the supergroup to negotiate the tangled paperwork of performing live events around the world.

He always appeared fascinated and well-engaged in Mexico from the start of his posting in 2021, travelling to many of its 32 states. It was on one of those trips, to the drug-cartel controlled states of Sinaloa and Durango, that the incident with his staff took place.

Over 30,000 people were murdered in Mexico last year. The country has extremely restrictive gun laws, and is home to only one gun shop, housed in a Mexico City military complex.

That the ambassador was seen to brandish a gun at his team amid so many annual murders from drug-related violence in Mexico has struck even more of a nerve among the embassy staff affected – and many Mexicans.

Even if intended as a joke, that it took place with an apparently loaded machine gun in one of the most dangerous regions of Mexico was a serious miscalculation.

What was supposed to be a routine trip to northern Mexico has seemingly brought an ignominious end to a very long and otherwise distinguished career in the FCDO.

The FCDO told the Financial Times: “We are aware of this incident and have taken appropriate action.

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

The BBC has contacted Mr Benjamin and the FCDO for comment.

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