asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the contacts between his Department and the Syrian embassy regarding the conduct of Mr. Ahmed Walid Rajab, Counsellor for Arab League Affairs; and if he will list the dates on which his Department took active steps in this matter.
This case first came to our notice in August 1983 when the Syrian ambassador told officials that the landlord, Mr. Chaffey, had forced an entry into the flat at 21 Stonor road where Mr. Rajab was living. Our policy in civil disputes of this kind is that the parties should exhaust all legal remedies open to them before the Government can consider intervening. In response to questions from both parties, we gave advice on this basis. We also gave factual information on the status of Mr. Rajab.The Foreign and Commonwealth Office became directly involved in February 1985 when we were told by Mr. Chaffey's solicitors that Mr. Rajab was not ready to observe a court order to vacate Mr. Chaffey's flat.The head of protocol department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote to the Syrian ambassador on 16 April and on 14 May, and summoned him to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 31 May to protest strongly about Mr. Rajab's unacceptable behaviour in ignoring a court order.The ambassador was warned at that stage that we would request the removal of Mr. Rajab from this country if he did not vacate the flat by 14 June.In view of the stringent standards which we now expect from the Diplomatic Corps in accordance with the criteria layed down in the recent White Paper on diplomatic immunities and privileges, we have today told the Syrian ambassador that, in view of Mr. Rajab's unacceptable behaviour, it would be best to transfer him from this country soon.