HC Deb 07 July 1986 vol 101 cc63-4W
Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will now arrange for diplomatic immunity to be removed from Senor Juan Fleming; and if he will make a statement;

(2) why it is his normal policy not to request withdrawal of a diplomat on the basis of drink-driving offences until a second such offence has been committed; what action is taken following a first offence; and how many cases of (i) first and (ii) second offences have been recorded in each of the last five years for which figures are available;

(3) on what authority diplomats are not proceeded against in their first drink-driving offence in cases where diplomatic immunity is waived.

Mr. Eggar

The White Paper on diplomatic privileges and immunities, Cmnd. 9497, made clear that our objective is to achieve a better standard of behaviour and a reduction in the number of offences for which immunity can be claimed. In each case the strength of available evidence, normally from detailed police reports, and other relevant factors are taken into account. Article 31 of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, which is scheduled as United Kingdom law by virtue of the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, provides that a diplomat shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state. A person entitled to diplomatic immunity cannot be forced, under article 29 of the Vienna Convention, to undergo a breath test or other medical examination. A decision is therefore taken on whether or not to request a waiver of immunity in order that the case may be tried. Waivers can be granted only by the sending state. In drink-driving cases, a waiver even if granted would come too late to allow the necessary medical evidence for conviction to be obtained. We therefore do not request a waiver in drink-driving cases. Our policy is to request the withdrawal of diplomats after the first drink-driving offence if aggravated by violence, injury to a third party, or previous traffic offences.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office draws the attention of the head of mission to the details of a first offence. He is asked to warn the offender that a repetition will lead to a removal, and to inform us that he has done so. The figures requested on drink-driving offences are as follows:

Alleged drink-driving offences by persons enjoying diplomatic immunity
1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 to date
Total 17 19 30 32 24 10
Of which second offences * 1 4 2 7 1
* Figures not available.