China diplomats wanted over Manchester assault outside consulate 'not welcome back', says minister

Hong Kong protester Bob Chan scuffles with people who are trying to drag him into the Chinese consulate in Manchester
A Hong Kong pro-democracy protester who was attacked outside the consulate in Manchester Credit: AP

Chinese officials wanted over the assault of a protester outside its consulate would not be welcome back in the UK after being withdrawn to Beijing, a foreign minister has said.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon made his comments as he was tackled in Parliament over whether the diplomats, including consul general Zheng Xiyuan, had been declared “personae non gratae”.

China pulled out the six individuals wanted by police for questioning following the incident in Manchester where violence erupted as Hong Kong protesters were demonstrating against Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

Staff from the Consulate allegedly tore down protesters' placards. One protester - Bob Chan - was then dragged onto Consular grounds and suffered minor injuries after he was allegedly beaten by Consular staff, in October.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has previously said he is “disappointed” the individuals will not face justice over the attack.

Bob Chan (pictured) was taken to hospital for his injuries after the alleged attack in Manchester. Credit: Matthew Leung/The Chaser News

Beijing insisted the departure of the consul general was a “normal rotation”.

Greater Manchester Police wanted to interview Zheng Xiyuan and five of his staff over the attack in October.

The Foreign Office had requested Beijing waive the diplomatic immunity of the individuals to allow the interviews to take place.

Labour frontbencher Lord Collins of Highbury said: “Their withdrawal is a clear admission of guilt.”

He pressed the minister on their status to “avoid those individuals being able to repeat such attacks on peaceful demonstrators in this country”.

Responding, Lord Ahmad said: “At no time in our conversations with the Chinese embassy did we ask them to remove their diplomats.

"It was right that there was a police investigation and then, based on police advice, we asked for the immunities to be waived."

On the issue of whether they were “persona non grata”, the minister told peers: “I can confirm that the consul general and the five other staff who the police had identified have now left the UK and are no longer accredited consular staff in the UK.

"It is right that they are no longer here.

“We have been clear that the consul general and the others would not be welcome to do any further posting here in the UK.”

Liberal Democrat Lord Purvis of Tweed said: “I think I took it from the minister that they will effectively be personae non gratae, but he was careful with his language.”

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