In 2015, 11 serious and significant offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic 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, or other law enforcement agencies. Six 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 drink-driving and driving without insurance.
Around 22,500 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom and the majority of diplomats abide by UK law. The number of alleged serious crimes committed by members of the diplomatic community in the UK is proportionately low.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, those entitled to immunity are expected to obey the law. The FCO does not tolerate foreign diplomats breaking the law.
We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When instances of alleged criminal conduct are brought to our attention by the police, we ask the relevant foreign government to waive diplomatic immunity where appropriate. For the most serious offences, and when a relevant waiver has not been granted, we seek the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat.
Alleged serious and significant offences reported to the FCO in 2015 are listed below.
Driving without insurance
The Commonwealth Secretariat
Causing or permitting the driving of a vehicle without insurance
Driving a vehicle without insurance or a MOT
Driving under the influence of alcohol
Actual bodily harm
Human Trafficking into the UK for the purposes of exploitation, specifically domestic servitude
Human trafficking; Slavery or Servitude/Forced or Compulsory Labour
Taking an indecent photograph/pseudo-photograph of a child; and using threatening /abusive/insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment/alarm/distress
Causing a child aged 13 to 15 to watch/look at an image of sexual activity
Figures for previous years are available in the Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ written statement to the House on 16 July 2015, Official Report, column 36WS (HCWS128).
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: