Priyanka Fernando

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 30th January 2019.

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Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Labour, Ilford North

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka has made to the Government of that country on the conduct of Brigadier Priyanka Fernando in the UK since a warrant for the arrest of the Brigadier was issued; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mark Field Mark Field Minister of State

We were deeply concerned by the well-publicised incident involving the Sri Lankan Defence Attaché last year and made immediate representations to the Sri Lankan Government. I spoke to Foreign Minister Marapana on 8 February 2018 about the matter to raise my concerns. The Defence Attaché was recalled by his Government soon after.

The FCO, which is not a party to the legal proceedings referred to, has been contacted by Westminster Magistrate's Court seeking clarification of the Brigadier's diplomatic status in the UK at the time of the incident. The FCO is providing documentation to assist the court.

The UK is committed to upholding the rule of law including the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka met the Permanent Secretary of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 24 January, at the Permanent Secretary's request. At this meeting the Permanent Secretary communicated his government's view that the Brigadier enjoyed diplomatic immunity at the time of the incident, and requested that the High Commissioner communicate this view back to the FCO in London.

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