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Diplomatic Immunity: Serious Offences

House of Lords written question – answered on 20th July 2011.

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Photo of Lord Corbett of Castle Vale Lord Corbett of Castle Vale Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many foreign nationals, listed by home country, suspected of serious criminal offences claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid arrest and charge in the Metropolitan Police area in each of the past three year years.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, diplomats are expected to obey the law of the receiving state. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) takes all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When advised of an alleged offence by the police, the FCO always raises the issue with the mission concerned, seeks waivers when requested by police and for the most serious offences, seeks the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, a diplomat may only be arrested by the police if a waiver of immunity has been granted by the sending State. Waivers of immunity were requested in 11 cases involving allegations of serious offences during the previous three years. Seven of the diplomats were withdrawn from the UK.

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