If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that some Saudi diplomat will get pulled over by the police in London for drink driving this year. It’s happened every year for the last five years, according to figures released in the House of Commons yesterday. We don’t know who they are because they claim diplomatic immunity and that’s the end of it, but Saudi diplomats have by far the worst record among Middle East countries when it comes to drink driving offences. They also get caught up in more than their fair share of more serious offences – since 2005 they have also allegedly been guilty of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.
But they’re not alone. Egyptian, Lebanese, Kuwaiti, Omani, Israeli and Moroccan diplomats have all also been allegedly guilty of driving after drinking too much and one Bahraini was apparently driving under the influence and without insurance.
Along with that ignoble list, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, also published a run-down of all the embassies which owe money for unpaid congestion charge bills, parking and other traffic fines, and bills for communal things like street cleaning and lighting and fire services (known as non-domestic rates in the jargon).
So if it wants to deflect some blame, Saudi Arabia could point out that it is much better behaved when it comes to paying its bills, owing just £146,490 for the 1,327 times its diplomats haven’t paid the London Congestion Charge or the 159 parking or other traffic fines.
Sudan is the worst offender for unpaid bills, owing almost £1.3m, but 18 Middle East embassies aren’t paying what they owe.
For a full run-down of unpaid bills and more serious offences click on these links:
Unpaid fines (pdf)