British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has revealed that two Saudi diplomats have been thrown out of Britain for drink-driving. The unnamed pair were expelled from the Saudi diplomatic mission after committing three offences, according to Sky News. One of them faced two allegations of driving under the influence of alcohol from 2018, whilst the other was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol and dangerous driving.
Drink-driving is a serious offence in Britain, and can prompt the government to ask a country to waive diplomatic immunity “where appropriate” for diplomats who have allegedly broken the law. If this is refused, Britain asks for the diplomats to be withdrawn from their embassies.
“Owing to the serious nature of the alleged offences,” Raab said in a written statement to MPs, “both individuals were expelled from the diplomatic mission.”
Around 23,000 people are believed to possess diplomatic immunity in the UK under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Referring to the two Saudi diplomats in his statement, Raab said: “The Foreign Office does not tolerate foreign diplomats or dependants breaking the law. We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously.”
This is not the first time that Saudi diplomats have fallen foul of the law in Britain. Forbes has described Saudi diplomats as “the most consistent breakers of UK law among Middle Eastern envoys in London.” In 2016, for example, a Saudi diplomat was caught allegedly driving without insurance, and another incident involved a Saudi diplomat allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol while using a mobile phone.
Alcohol is strictly prohibited in Saudi Arabia in line with Islamic conventions. Drinking, producing, trading and smuggling alcohol within the Kingdom is strictly banned and involves serious punishments. These can include up to 500 lashes in addition to deportation in the case of foreigners, although expatriate workers tend to be ignored by the authorities if they drink alcohol within the confines of their private residential compounds.