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Spain assures it will not open UK government bags with official correspondence

Thursday, November 28th 2013 - 10:36 UTC
Full article 16 comments
Minister Lidington updated Parliament on Spanish interference with UK government official communications Friday 22 November Minister Lidington updated Parliament on Spanish interference with UK government official communications Friday 22 November

Spain has assured London that the incident in which UK government bags containing official correspondence and communications were opened by Spanish officials at the Gibraltar border, “will not see a repeat of these actions”, according to an official release from the Foreign Office on the update to Parliament on the incident.

 The release points out that Foreign Office Minister David Lidington updated Parliament on Spanish interference with UK government official communications last Friday 22 November.

On that date two UK government bags containing official correspondence and communications, and clearly marked as such, were opened by Spanish officials, whilst the bags were in transit.

“This represents a serious interference with the official correspondence and property of Her Majesty’s Government, and therefore a breach of both the principles underlying the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the principle of State immunity. We take any infringement of these principles very seriously”.

Following reports of the incident which was made public by the Gibraltar Chronicle, the Foreign Office made representations to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at senior level over the weekend of 23-24 November and the British Embassy in Madrid submitted a formal written protest to the Ministry on 25 November.

“In our protests we requested an urgent explanation of this incident from the Spanish Government and sought assurances that there will be no further interference with the UK’s official correspondence. We have now received that explanation from the Spanish and have been assured that we will not see a repeat of these actions”.

Finally the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations provides a legal framework for diplomatic relations between countries, including the privileges that enable diplomats to perform their functions, including official correspondence and the Diplomatic Bag. It embodies important international principles that protect official correspondence and communication between a State and its representatives. The UK strictly adheres to these principles and we expect other states to do the same.

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • Anglotino

    Oooh I had been assumed by our resident Spaniards, Olisipo and Aussie Sunshine, that:
    * this didn't happen
    * was a UK ploy

    or they weren't covered because they either:

    * weren't marked as diplomatic
    * weren't diplomatic because they were not communication between 'diplomats'
    * they were send by a courier which for some unknown reason is unreasonable

    Seems Madrid thinks differently.

    Nov 28th, 2013 - 11:23 am 0
  • ElaineB

    @1 Yes, a complete balls up by the Spanish that they have fully admitted to.

    Nov 28th, 2013 - 11:29 am 0
  • LEPRecon

    Of course they have admitted to it. If they didn't they could find themselves in very hot water, and every country in the world would look at them with suspicion, not sure whether Spain would live up to it's obligations under the Vienna Convention.

    If they refused to live up to these conventions then Embassies and Consulates from countries around the world, would start deserting them, leaving them completely isolated. They could've even faced sanctions because of this incident.

    However, I do believe that this was an act done by an insufficiently trained customs officer who shouldn't have been manning the border at all - but was drafted in due to Spain's aggressive and wholly illegal actions towards Gibraltar, and was not intentional by Madrid.

    But the embarrassment for Spain is huge and they now need to do a lot of damage control to their international reputation.

    Nov 28th, 2013 - 12:42 pm 0
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