§ Mr. Torney
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the reasons for the delay in taking action against the Syrian diplomat, Ahmed Waled Rajab.
§ Mr. Renton
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 12 June, at columns 496–98, to my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Latham). Before taking any action against diplomats alleged to have used their immunity to default on a civil obligation we need to be satisfied that there has been such an abuse; that legal remedies have been exhausted; and that the diplomat has had time to state his side of the case and to rectify the default.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office became directly involved in this case in February 1985 when we were told by Mr. Chaffey's solicitors that Mr. Rajab was not ready to observe a court order to vacate Mr. Chaffey's flat. Mr. Rajab eventually vacated the flat before expiry of the deadline for doing so given him by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In the circumstances, however, we consider that the early transfer of Mr. Rajab from this country would be in the best interests of relations between the United Kingdom and Syria. We have made this clear to the Syrian authorities, from whom we expect an early response.