Federal police were so concerned by the conduct of a handful of diplomats in Canberra they asked the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to formally counsel the relevant ambassadors.
In one case last year, the department considered revoking the visa of an embassy staffer who abused police and repeatedly drove well over the speed limit.
However, DFAT has suppressed the diplomats' names, saying even identifying their embassies or their sex would unreasonably breach their privacy.
Documents released under freedom of information law show the worst offender was fined twice in a month – $1811 each time – for dangerous driving, after the diplomat had already clocked up enough demerit points to lose their licence. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, posted officials can claim immunity from fines and driving offences.
On a Friday night in August last year, ACT Policing stopped the diplomat's car after it was detected travelling at 132km/h on Belconnen Way in Bruce, which has a limit of 80km/h. The driver was seen using a phone but told officers "I had just received the phone call".
Two weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, an officer stopped the same diplomat when their car was detected speeding on Yarra Glen in Woden and the driver was seen talking on a mobile.
The officer's report said the car approached the rear of the unmarked police vehicle at high speed, veered into a bus lane without indicating and travelled at 110km/h in an 80km/h zone. "The driver then swerved into my lane (in front of my vehicle) again without indicating."
A police letter to DFAT also noted: "After the police officer stopped the vehicle and approached the driver, the driver raised [his/her] index finger and told the officer that [he/she] was on the phone and to wait.
"After a short time, the driver of the diplomatic vehicle spoke to police and identified [him/herself] as [censored]. During the conversation with the AFP officer, [censored] was rude and argumentative and continually stated that [he/she] was a diplomat and police couldn't touch [him/her]."
DFAT protocol staff discussed how to handle the problematic diplomat, and agreed the relevant ambassador must be warned.
One departmental official wrote: "I have discussed this with Sally [Mansfield, the then chief of protocol] and while it is tempting to ask for [censored] to be sent home forthwith, we think the time has come to call in [censored] and say that if [he/she] receives so much as a parking fine from now on we would ask for [him/her] to be sent home."
Federal police also asked the department to counsel embassy staff following other recent incidents:
The department said it did not dislose which foreign missions the diplomats were attached to as that might identify the diplomats.
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