HL Deb 18 October 1999 vol 605 cc101-2WA
Viscount Exmouth

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 22 July (WA118) and in light of the fact that a diplomatic passport does not provide proof of diplomatic immunity. whether they will: (a) outline the guidelines issued to the courts for deciding whether a claimant is entitled to immunity; and (b) list the number and nationalities of those applications for diplomatic immunity which have come before the courts during the last three years. [HL4032]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

Questions concerning the entitlement of a person to diplomatic immunity are determined in accordance with the provisions of the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, which provides that relevant provisions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) shall have the force of law in the UK.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will normally only know about a claim for diplomatic immunity before the courts if the courts or the parties draw it to our attention. Section 4 of the 1964 Act provides: If in any proceedings any question arises whether or not any person is entitled to any privilege or immunity under this Act a certificate issued by or under the authority of the Secretary of State stating any fact relating to that question shall be conclusive evidence of that fact".

At the request of the courts during the last three years, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has supplied the following "Section 4" certificates where diplomatic immunity has been claimed;

Year Nationality of Diplomatic Mission
1999 Pakistani
1999 Russian
1998 American
1997 American