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Consular affairs: Weird world of consular requests

Asking for rock superstar Phil Collins’ telephone number and checking on the Prince of Wales’ shoe size are among the odd requests made to British consular staff abroad, it has been revealed. Records also showed that staff in Spain were asked by a man to contact a dominatrix who had left him stranded at the airport. A man rang the consulate in Sydney to ask what clothes he should pack for his holiday while a Briton in Sofia, Bulgaria, wanted the consulate to sell his house for him. A woman in Moscow wanted embassy staff to visit her flat to get something done about a loud buzzing noise there, while a consulate in Greece were asked how to put a chicken coop up in a man’s garden. In Florida, a man called the consulate to report there were ants in his holiday villa and asked what he should do, while another hopeful caller asked consular staff in Dubai to meet his dog at the airport and help the pet through customs as he would be away when the animal arrived. A caller asked staff in Malaga in southern Spain in mid-September where she could get a Christmas lunch as everywhere she had phoned was already booked up. Staff in Greece were asked for tips on the best fishing spots and where to purchase good bait. The caller – to foreign office staff in Spain – who wanted Prince Charles’ shoe size wanted the information so he could send him shoes as a present. Consular Affairs Minister Jeremy Browne said: “We will always try to help where we can but there are limits to the support that we can provide. It is important that people understand the level of help we can offer. “Our priority is to help people in real difficulty abroad and we cannot do this if our time is diverted by people trying to use us as a concierge service. We need to be able to focus primarily on helping victims of serious crimes, supporting people who have been detained or assisting people who have lost a loved one abroad.”




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