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Alleged Serious and Significant Offences (Diplomatic Immunity) 2018

Volume 672: debated on Tuesday 25 February 2020

In 2018, three serious and significant offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic or international organisation-related immunity in the United Kingdom were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection of the Metropolitan Police Service, or other law enforcement agencies. All of these were driving-related. We define serious offences as those which could, in certain circumstances, carry a penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment or more. Also included are driving under the influence and driving without insurance.

Around 23,000 people are entitled to diplomatic or international organisation-related immunity in the UK and the majority of diplomats and dependants abide by UK law. The number of alleged serious offences committed by members of the diplomatic community in the UK is proportionately low.

Under the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations 1961, we expect those entitled to immunity to obey the law. The FCO does not tolerate foreign diplomats or dependants breaking the law.

We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When the police or other law enforcement agency bring instances of alleged criminal conduct to our attention, we ask the relevant foreign Government or international organisation to waive immunity where appropriate. For the most serious offences, and when a relevant waiver has not been granted, we request the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat or dependant.

Listed below are alleged serious and significant offences reported to the FCO by UK law enforcement agencies in 2018.

Driving under the influence of alcohol (a) (b)

Saudi Arabia 2

Driving under the influence of alcohol and dangerous driving (b)

Saudi Arabia 1

(a) One person was responsible for the two allegations of driving under the influence of alcohol.

(b) Owing to the serious nature of the alleged offences, both individuals were expelled from the diplomatic mission.

Figures for the previous year are available in the written statement to the House by the Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ on 18 December 2018 (HCWS1197) which can be found at: https://www.