Saudi diplomats escape drink-driving prosecution as Pakistani officials accused of rape and kidnapping

They have been protected from British law by diplomatic immunity

Two Saudi diplomats accused of drink-driving in the UK have escaped prosecution, despite the offence being punishable by brutal lashings in ther own country.

They were among foreign officials suspected of 14 crimes who are protected from British law by diplomatic immunity.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has revealed a list of the most serious alleged offences in 2013, including representatives from Pakistan accused of rape and child abduction, and a Zambian diplomat implicated in a sexual assault case.

A diplomat from Kuwait, where alcohol is strictly banned, was also accused of drink-driving.

Mark Simmonds, an FCO minister, revealed all “serious and significant” offences allegedly committed by diplomats to Parliament on Tuesday.

He said that the Metropolitan Police’s Diplomatic Protection Group had alerted the Government to 14 cases in total.

“The number of alleged serious crimes committed by members of the diplomatic community in the UK is proportionately low,” Mr Simmonds said.

“The FCO does not tolerate foreign diplomats breaking the law.”

The Saudi diplomats accused of drink-driving could be sent back to their home country, where the draconian ban on alcohol has been enforced with corporal punishment under Islamic law.

In 2002, British businessman Gary O'Nions was sentenced to 800 lashes, jailed for eight years and fined £400,000 after being convicted of running an illegal drinking den.

Saudi Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Nasir al-Saud, by contrast, was freed after three years of his life sentence for murdering his manservant in a sexually motivated attack at a London hotel.

Read more: Saudi prince 'murdered manservant in sexually-motivated attack'
Scarred by the savage lash of Islamic justice
Saudi bombings linked to illegal alcohol sales to British expats
Religious police arrest man for giving out free hugs

The unnamed officials are among 21,500 people granted diplomatic immunity in the UK, meaning they are not subject to British laws unless their country grants a waiver.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, those entitled to immunity are expected to obey the law, and if allegations are brought to light the relevant foreign government can be asked to rescind the privilege so they can be investigated.

Foreign Office minister Mark Simmonds Mark Simmonds said the UK does everything in its power to investigate diplomats accused of crimes The FCO made that request for five of the most serious cases last year, Mr Simmonds said, including the rape and child abduction allegedly involving Pakistani diplomats.

But although Pakistan’s government partially lifted immunity in one case so the diplomat could be interviewed by police, there is no legal obligation to comply with the British request.

Two other implicated officials were voluntarily recalled, a fourth person was asked to leave the UK by the FCO and a fifth case continues.

The FCO would not confirm which allegations the interview or any other action concerned or give details on the progress of investigations.

Amnesty International expressed concern about diplomatic immunity blocking criminal investigations.

Allan Hogarth, Amnesty UK’s head of policy and government affairs, said: “Diplomatic immunity must not mean impunity. Serious abuses must be investigated and justice pursued.”

Mr Simmonds said his department takes all allegations of illegal activity seriously and if a waiver of diplomatic immunity is not granted in the most serious cases, it requests the person leaves the country immediately.

The minister’s statement did not include allegations of minor criminal offences or wrongdoing, only including crimes that can be punished by a year or more in prison, drink-driving and driving without insurance.

The Saudi Arabian and Pakistani embassies could not be reached for a comment.

The FCO’s full list of “serious and significant offences” involving diplomats in 2013:

Driving a vehicle reported as lost or stolen and without insurance:

Sierra Leone 1

Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol and without insurance:

El Salvador 1

Driving under the influence of alcohol:

Saudi Arabia 2, Belarus 1, Macedonia 1, Kuwait 1, Zambia 1

Sexual Assault:

Zambia 1

Domestic Rape:

Pakistan 1

Child Abduction:

Pakistan 1

Actual Bodily Harm:

Cameroon 1, Zambia 1

Public Order Offence:

Kuwait 1

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace