A television documentary has exposed that diplomatic staff have avoided prosecution for 88 crimes over the last six years. The figures come from the Foreign Office, and will appear alongside allegations that diplomatic bags are being used to carry drugs and explosives into the United Kingdom.
Of the countries whose diplomats allegedly committed the crimes, Saudi Arabia tops the list with 11 alleged offences, followed by Kazakhstan and Russia with five, Cameroon with four and the Ivory Coast and Ghana with three each.
The figures include the case of a 41-year-old Saudi who is accused of molesting an 11-year-old daughter of a diplomat at another embassy. Despite repeated requests by the UK Government his immunity was not rescinded by Saudi Arabia and he was never extradited back to face the allegations.
Former diplomat Eamon Delaney told Exposure: Inside The Diplomatic Bag, which airs at 10.35pm tonight, that diplomatic immunity is out of control: “There’s no need for so many diplomats and so many staff of embassies to walk around with immunity and with diplomatic passports: it’s an indulgence, it’s outdated, and it is a license to abuse.”
Most alleged offences related to driving, but others included sexual assault, human trafficking, actual bodily harm, threatening to kill and robbery. The statistics show that of the 11 offences allegedly committed by Saudi diplomats, two concerned human trafficking and one is the sexual assault of the 11-year-old.
Diplomats from foreign countries in Britain qualify for immunity from prosecution for even the most serious crimes. The Saudi embassy told Exposure that serious action is taken against any diplomat found to have broken UK laws.
The programme also contains undercover footage of Nigerian High Commission worker Alfa Abutu claiming he could use the diplomatic bag – which is immune from search by officials when crossing borders – to illegally smuggle art, cash, gold and diamonds out of the country through ‘any airport’.