Fifteen ‘serious and significant’ crimes – including Anne Sacoolas’s killing of Harry Dunn – have allegedly been committed by foreign diplomats with immunity in Britain since 2019
Fifteen ‘serious and significant’ crimes – including sexual assault and drunk-driving – were allegedly committed by foreign diplomats or others with diplomatic immunity in Britain between 2019 to 2022.
New figures published by the Government today, which included the case of Anne Sacoolas, revealed the scale of alleged law-breaking by foreign embassy staff in the UK.
There are around 25,500 people entitled to diplomatic immunity in Britain, which means they cannot be arrested or prosecuted for any crime or civil case.
The granting of dimplomatic immunity on foreign diplomats and their family members came under intense scrutiny after Sacoolas killed teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn in a road accident in Northamptonshire in August 2019.
The US State Department asserted diplomatic immunity on Sacoolas and she was able to leave Britain just 19 days after the fatal collision.
It led to a furious transatlantic row as the Dunn family campaigned to bring Sacoolas to justice.
Foreign diplomats owe nearly £150m in London congestion charge debt
Foreign diplomats in London now owe nearly £150million in congestion charge debt, new figures have shown.
Since the introduction of the capital’s congestion charge in 2003, diplomats have claimed that it is a tax – making them exempt from paying it.
But the UK Government disputes this and says there are ‘no legal grounds’ for embassies to exempt themselves from paying the charge.
As of December 2022 the US embassy owes the largest debt, with more than £14million racked up in unpaid charges.
It is followed by the Japanese embassy, which has amassed more than £10million in debt.
The Office for the High Commissioner for India owes £8.5million, while the Chinese embassy owes nearly £8 million.
The Russian embassy owes just under £6 million.
Foreign Office minister David Rutley said: ‘We consider that there are no legal grounds to exempt diplomatic missions and international organisations from the London congestion charge, which is comparable to a parking fee or toll charge they are required to pay.’
In a written statement to Parliament today, Foreign Office minister David Rutley said the ‘vast majority’ of foreign diplomats and their dependants abide by UK law.
But Mr Rutley listed the alleged serious and significant offences – defined as those which could carry a 12-month jail sentence, as well as drunk-driving – by foreign diplomats or their dependents as reported by police over the three-year period.
Sacoolas was not listed by name but there was a ‘causing death by careless driving’ allegation attributed to a US diplomat or dependent in the Foreign Office figures.
Other alleged offences in 2019 included an historical claim of ‘domestic servitude/modern slavery’ by a diplomat or dependent from Saudi Arabia, sexual assault by an Iraqi, and drunk-driving by two people from Oman and Kyrgyzstan.
In 2020, there was an allegation of ‘common assault/cruelty to a child’ against a Nigerian diplomat or dependent, and a drunk-driving claim against an Indian citizen.
In 2021, drunk-driving allegations were made against two diplomats or dependents from Saudia Arabia and one from Ethiopia.
Last year, a diplomat or dependent from Myanmar faced an allegation of driving without insurance, a Greek citizen was accused of ‘common assault/threats to kill’, an individual from the Democratic Republic of the Congo was accused of ‘fraud by false representation/perverting the course of justice/money laundering’, and a US diplomat or dependent was accused of sexual assault.
Mr Rutley wrote: ‘We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When the police or other law enforcement agency bring instances of alleged criminal conduct to our attention, we ask the relevant foreign government or international organisation to waive immunity where appropriate.
‘For the most serious offences, and when a relevant waiver has not been granted, we request the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat or dependant.’
In October last year, Sacoolas pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey, via videolink, to causing Dunn’s death by careless driving.
She was later sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for a year.