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Britian Orders Syrian Diplomat To Leave

June 13, 1985

LONDON (AP) _ The Foreign Office summoned the Syrian ambassador Wednesday to tell him a Syrian diplomat who overstayed the lease on his rented apartment and left its owners homeless would have to leave Britain.

Ambassador Loutof Allah Haydar was told that the conduct of Counsellor Ahmed Walid Rajab was ″unacceptable″ and he would be expelled unless his government withdrew him.

A Foreign Office statement said: ″We wished to limit any further damage to bilateral relations and we believe that with this in mind it would be best if Mr. Rajab was transferred soon from this country.″

It said the ambassador promised to report to his government and reply ″at an early date.″

The owners say they rented the apartment in London’s West Kensington district to Rajab on a six-month lease in 1982, but when they sought to move back in, Rajab refused to get out.

Rajab, his wife and daughter left the apartment Tuesday with their belongings, three days ahead of an expulsion deadline set by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government.

The Foreign Office issued the ultimatum after the apartment owners, John and Suzanne Chaffey, wrote to Queen Elizabeth II and told her of three years of homelessness and a costly struggle to get their property back.

Rajab claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid eviction.

The Chaffeys, accompanied by their attorney, entered the apartment Tuesday night after the last of Rajab’s belongings was removed and driven off to an undisclosed destination.

Chaffey, a builder, had rented the furnished apartment to Rajab for 100 pounds ($126) a week and he and his wife and two children then left on a six- month trip to the United States.

Rajab refused to leave when the Chaffeys returned, and the case reached court last year after Chaffey briefly occupied the apartment while Rajab was on a trip to Syria in the fall of 1983.

Rajab had Chaffey evicted and sued him for damages, accusing him of illegal entry and trying to remove furniture.

Chaffey, 50, said he was seeking legal advice to revoke a court settlement last November in which he agreed to pay Rajab $10,700 to leave.

In return, Rajab promised to vacate the apartment by Feb. 28, but did not do so.

The Foreign Office said it summoned Syria’s ambassador on May 31 - after Mrs. Chaffey wrote to the queen - and said that unless Rajab left the apartment by June 14 he would be expelled from Britain.