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Greek Diplomat, London (British Claim)

Volume 529: debated on Monday 5 July 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he is aware of the case of the diplomat in the Greek Embassy in London, particulars of which have been sent to him, against whom a common law claim by a British subject for damages for personal injuries caused by his negligence in driving a motor car in England has been made but who pleads in defence diplomatic immunity; and what steps he intends to take to enable justice to be done to the British subject who has been so injured.

Yes, Sir. I have studied the information which the hon. and learned Member has so kindly forwarded to me. The diplomat concerned left the United Kingdom in May last on the termination of his appointment at the Greek Embassy. He is no longer regarded as having any immunity from the jurisdiction of the English courts.

I am informed that the diplomat carried automobile insurance against third party risks, but that the insurance company concerned has failed to meet the claim. Inquiries are being made as to the grounds on which liability has been denied. Appropriate measures will be taken in the light of the information obtained.

Will the Minister say what are the appropriate measures designed and calculated to protect the British citizen who was injured, and see that the doctrine of immunity is not carried too far in this matter?

I will do that. It may interest the House to know that an arrangement has been in force since 1935 under which all companies have given an undertaking not to avail themselves of diplomatic immunity in order to evade compliance with their obligations under automobile policies.