PRIME Minister Theresa May has expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK as the probe into the Russian spy poisoning on British soil continues.
While we often hear about the work of diplomats, many of us might not know exactly what their role entails and how they get to be appointed. Here’s the lowdown.
Sky News Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko
What is a diplomat?
A diplomat is a senior official whose job is to represent one country while based abroad.
This can be split into three main roles involving political, commercial and consular interests.
A political diplomat monitors political and economic developments in other countries as well as representing a country in government and the media.
Commercial diplomats promote trade and investment, while consular staff assist citizens from their country abroad and process visa applications.
How do you become a diplomat?
To become a UK diplomat, you would need to apply to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Applicants need to pass a strict vetting test and meet nationality and residency requirements.
People from all backgrounds are welcome to apply but they may be asked for GCSEs, A levels and a degree.
No formal qualifications are expected to become an ambassador but they would need to speak the language of the country they are based in, the Guardian reported.
Christopher Meyer, the ex-UK ambassador in Washington DC at the time of the Iraq War in 2003, once suggested a good diplomat needs “a quick mind, a hard head, a strong stomach, a warm smile and a cold eye”.
It is expected you would have relevant work or life experience. Promotion could see you earn £45k a year within five years.
Why have Russian diplomats been expelled from the UK?
Britain has expelled a significant number of Russian diplomats as part of its response to the poisoning for a former double agent in southern England
Prime Minister Theresa May made the annoucement during her weekly PMQs session at the House of Commons.
The decision comes as part of a range of measures in response to the Salisbury poisoning.
It will be the first major expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK since 1971, which saw 105 thrown out over the Soviet espionage operation.
Getty Images – Getty The announcement comes as the Russian spy poisoning investigation expands to the town of Gillingham, Dorset
How many diplomats does the UK have?
The FCO employs around 14,000 staff – from 150 nationalities – around the world.
Around one third are made up of UK-based British civil servants whose career includes work in the UK and postings overseas.
The remainder are employed by a British diplomatic mission abroad.
The FCO has a network of 270 ministerial posts in 160 countries.
What is diplomatic immunity?
While it depends on rank, top officers get full immunity in their host country along with their deputies and families, following laws crafted in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961.
This means ambassadors can commit any crime, including murder, and be immune from local law which includes being arrested, prosecuted or being forced to testify in court.
They can still be expelled from the country they are based in.
This immunity became a fierce bone of contention when unarmed PC Yvone Fletcher , 25, died in April 1984 after shots were fired from inside the Libyan Embassy in London at an anti-Gaddafi protest outside.
When the siege ended after 11 days, all Libyan diplomats made their way out of the embassy and were given diplomatic immunity.
The Libyan government accepted “general responsibility” for the shooting 15 years later and offered compensation to her family, but no-one has been convicted for her murder.
Customs give diplomats “courtesy of ports” at airports, which means their luggage can be passed through without inspection.
They must still pass through security checkpoints like other travellers, but many are given an express route.
Nikesh Mehta, 36, currently based at the British High Commission in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia, has also worked in Iraq and Uganda, mingled with British royalty, dined with Hollywood stars and flew to war-torn Basra in Iraq in a Chinook military helicopter.
He said: “A typical day could involve lobbying on the UN security council resolution on Syria, for example, or it could involve working on a visit for a member of the royal family.
“It’s an incredible varied workload.”
It emerged foreign aid bosses shared £175,000 in bonuses this year for spending the £13billion overseas budget.
The 21 senior civil servants in the Department for International Development were handed up to £10,000 each.
Who Is Peter Kay’s Wife Susan Gargan, When Did She Marry The Comedian And Do They Have Any Children?
COMEDY legend Peter Kay has been a happily married man since back in 2001.
Here’s everything you need to know about the stand-up superstar’s wife Susan Gargan and the life they have made together.
PA:Press Association Peter and Susan have been married since 2001
Who is Susan Gargan and when did she marry Peter Kay?
Susan Gargan is the wife of comedian, Peter Kay.
Little is known about her and her life away from the spotlight, as the family choose to keep their personal life private.
She met her soon-to-be husband Peter in a nightclub in Bolton in 1998.
At the time, Susan was working in their local Boots and Peter was working in the local cinema.
Peter Kay married Susan Gargan in 2001 after being in a relationship for three years.
In a bid to maintain a normal family life, Peter and Susan have opted to keep their marriage and children away from the limelight.
Rex Features Peter and Susan keep their home life out of the spotlight completely
Do they have children?
Peter and Susan welcomed their son, Charlie Michael Kay, in 2003.
The pair named him after their fathers, with Charlie being the name of Susan’s late father.
Speaking to the Mirror shortly after his son’s birth, Peter praised life as a family man.
He told the paper: “Fatherhood has changed me – it has to change you.
“It makes you much more aware of the minutiae of life, it’s not about your needs any more, its about everyone elses.”
It is reported that Peter has two other children – and in interviews he frequently refers to more than one child – but they have been kept out of the spotlight completely.
Where Is The St Patrick’s Day 2018 Parade In London? Route, Start Time And Performances At Trafalgar Square Revealed
MORE than 1250,000 take to the streets of London for the annual St Patrick’s Day weekend, now in its 16th year.
The city transforms into a melting pot of green with countless events taking place across the city. Here’s all the important info…
Alamy Live News London will host a whole weekend of St Patrick’s Day celebrations starting March 16
First of all, when is St Patrick’s Day 2018?
Each year, St Patrick’s Day falls on March 17.
In Ireland, the day of celebration has been a public holiday since 1903 and the first parade was held in Waterford that year.
In the UK, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother would present bowls of shamrock flown over from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards in the British Army.
The tradition carries on today with the Irish Guards still wearing shamrocks flown over from Ireland.
When is the St Patrick’s Day parade in London and what’s the route?
While the festivities start on Friday, March 16, the parade takes place on Sunday, culminating in a performance in Trafalgar Square.
It begins in Hyde Park corner at 12pm and goes through Piccadilly, Haymarket, Trafalgar Square before and finally City Hall in Whitehall where several talks will take place.
The procession will feature Irish marching bands, energetic dance troupes and spectacular pageantry, the Mayor of London claims.
“London is home to the biggest Irish population outside of Ireland, and this is when we gather to celebrate!” said Gary Dunne, Creative Programmer of London’s St Patrick’s Cultural Festival.
A parade starting on Hyde Park corner will go through Trafalgar Square and end in Whitehall
What events and performances are there to enjoy?
London Mayor Sadiq Khan vowed to the most “impressive showcase of Irish culture, heritage, food and talent the city has ever seen”.
It will include Irish dance performances in Hackney, Jazz in Enfield, music classes in Croydon and open air gigs in Camden Market.
Trafalgar Square will host the focal point of the festival on Sunday with a world-class line-up of Irish culture and community on the main stage.
Brave Victim Of Male Rape Comes Forward To Reveal Harrowing Ordeal By Two Men
A VICTIM of male rape who worked on Coronation Street’s David Platt rape storyline, has bravely come forward to tell his experience of being attacked.
In the soap’s storyline the character David Platt is drugged and raped by a new friend Josh Tucker.
MEN Media Sam Thompson has come forward to speak about his ordeal of being raped
While the long-running drama is fictitious the harrowing experience of Sam Thompson, a 23-year-old DJ, his experience of being raped is all too real.
Sam, who was a script adviser on the storyline, was raped by two men after a night out in Manchester in 2016.
Sam told the Manchester Evening News that at first he didn’t realise what was happening to him and only remembers snippets of the ordeal.
It was only when the pain kicked in that he fully realised.
MEN Media Sam Thompson worked as a script adviser on Coronation Street
Sam, then 22, had lived in Manchester for just a few weeks when his horrific ordeal occured.
He had moved to the city from Newark, Nottinghamshire, with his then-girlfriend, to pursue his dream of becoming a professional DJ.
Keen on exploring the city’s nightlife, he and his best friend Brady hit the pubs and clubs in the city centre.
After a series of vodka shots, they ended up losing each other.
Sam, who had also lost his mobile phone, started chatting to a group of people outside a club.
Thinking nothing of it, he accepted an invitation to join around seven people for another drink.
It was now the early hours of morning and Sam followed the crowd and found himself in a hotel room.
Sam eventually was left alone with just two men, who persuaded him to stay for a final drink.
Then the ordeal started.
Sam said: “My memory is hazy, but the next thing I remember is one of them pulling off my trousers.”
What followed was an ordeal which lasted hours – with the two men taking it in turns to rape him.
He didn’t fight back but froze.
He has since been told by a therapist that people respond to trauma in different ways and the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response kicks in.
He remembers leaving the hotel at around 8am, after the men had finished.
After finding his bearings, he staggered towards his home in a daze. At that point, he was unable to comprehend the enormity of what had just happened.
MEN Media Sam Thompson has spoken out in an attempt to help other men come forward in the same situation
When he got back to his flat he found his girlfriend and best mate Brady waiting for him, worried about where he had been.
At that point, he “just came out with it” and told them he’d been raped.
“I just burst into tears,” he said. “They didn’t know how to react. Brady put his arm around me and my girlfriend just broke down in tears.
“I just hadn’t expected this to happen. I just wanted to have a shower but they told me to go to the police.”
As the three friends made their way to the nearest police station, his girlfriend managed to intercept two PCSOs, who advised them to make a statement.
Injuries to his arms were photographed and he was asked to give details of what he could remember to a specially trained officer.
He says he was also asked questions about his sexuality and if the complaint was genuine.
Sam now realises that the questions he was asked were necessary for the police investigation, but he found it a harrowing experience.
He was taken home by a police officer and told not to shower or change his clothes until his appointment at the Sexual Assault Referral Centre at 10pm that night.
Corrie’s David Platt, played by Jack Shepherd, who is raped in the soap
Exhausted after his ordeal, he managed to sleep only briefly before the forensic examination, where he was internally examined, given blood tests and advice on sexually transmitted diseases.
“It was not a nice ordeal to go through and being given things like HIV advice is horrible, but at that point I had already made a report.”
Desperate to leave Manchester, Sam was driven home that night to Newark, where he spent the next month ‘dazed’ in front of the TV.
But Sam slowly became determined not to let the attack destroy his life and now say his attitude was not to let the rapists win.
Sam returned to Manchester, started DJing again and got a job as a recruitment consultant But avoiding the issue just made the problem worse and Sam’s relationship became a casualty of what happened to him.
Having lost interest in sex and finding it difficult even to kiss another person, his relationship ended in January 2017.
Not long after, he was told by police that the case had been dropped against two men who had been arrested in connection with his rape.
He was told that it would be difficult to prove he had not consented to what had happened.
Shortly afterwards, however, Sam suffered a breakdown and was advised by the specialist officer who had handled his case to contact Survivors Manchester.
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