By Kirsty Walker
Foreign diplomats have got away with a series of serious crimes on British soil, including a threat to kill, sexual assaults and human trafficking.
Figures released by ministers have revealed an extraordinary crime spree carried out by embassy workers under the cloak of diplomatic immunity.
In the last five years, the diplomats carried out a total of 78 serious crimes – including 54 driving offences.
In the most worrying cases, envoys from Saudi Arabia and Sierra Leone were accused of human trafficking, while a Pakistani diplomat was alleged to have made a threat to kill.
A Saudi Arabian envoy allegedly committed sexual assault while another of his colleagues was accused of domestic violence.
Diplomats from Nigeria and Jordan were linked to two cases of actual bodily harm.
Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, foreign officials and their families and staff are protected from prosecution in their host country – effectively putting them above the law.
Unless their home country agrees to waive their immunity from prosecution, there is nothing the British government can do except risk a diplomatic incident by ordering their expulsion.
Some 25,000 people are entitled to diplomatic-immunity in the UK. Serious crimes are defined as offences which would carry a 12-month jail sentence.
According to the list published by the Foreign Office, the most common offence was drink-driving with 48 diplomats accused.
In 2009, a total of 18 alleged offences were committed. There were also ten carried out in 2008, 20 in 2007, 15 in 2006 and 15 in 2005.
A list of the worst offenders over the five years is headed by diplomats from Saudi Arabia who were accused of eight offences, followed by South Africa, five, then Kazakhstan, Ghana and Cameroon, four; Nigeria, Malawi and Russia, three.
Last night there were calls for change. Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones said: ‘It’s time for the Foreign Office to renegotiate the terms of diplomatic immunity.
‘It seems ludicrous that so many people get away with so many crimes.’
A Victim Support spokesman said: ‘Victims and witnesses want justice to be done and to be seen to be done.
‘If a decision is made not to prosecute someone, the reasons need to be made clear to the victim.’