HC Deb 09 February 1998 vol 306 cc35-6W
Mr. Austin

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the British Vice-Consul in Istanbul will be permitted to give evidence to a Turkish court regarding incidents in Istanbul on 2 September 1997. [26042]

Mr. Doug Henderson

[holding answer 29 January 1998]As set out in the answer given by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Lloyd) on 29 January 1998,Official Report, column 385, our guidelines are that we generally expect British officials to co-operate with local judicial authorities. In this particular instance, no request has been made by the local courts. Under Article 44(3) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, members of a consular post are not obliged to give evidence on matters encountered in the exercise of their functions. We have concluded that it would be inappropriate for the British Vice Consul (Information) to give evidence because of the need for him to retain the status of impartial observer in attending subsequent court cases in his consular capacity.