The U.S. and U.K. have agreed to end a legal “anomaly” that allowed the wife of an American intelligence official to claim immunity after fatally striking 19-year-old Harry Dunn on his motorbike in a wrong-side-of-the-road crash outside a military base in central England last August.
The suspect in Dunn’s death, Anne Sacoolas, will not be extradited back to the U.K. to stand trial, as the latest agreement applies to future incidents near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.
Under the United Nations’ Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, members of diplomatic staff and their families placed in a foreign country are afforded immunity status. In the case of RAF Croughton, which is used as a U.S. Air Force communications station, both countries agreed in 1995 to waive American staff’s right to immunity – but their families still were entitled to that legal protection.
The loophole was closed on Monday after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the weekend. Families now too can face police questioning and potential criminal charges. Their right to legal immunity was rescinded, the BBC reported.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a written statement to Parliament on Wednesday he was “pleased to report to the House that we have secured the agreement of the US so that the Croughton arrangements could not in future be used in the same way as in the tragic case of Harry Dunn.”
“We have the deepest sympathy for Harry Dunn’s family,” Raab said. “No family should have to experience what they have gone through and I recognize that these changes will not bring Harry back.”
Anne Sacoolas (left) is accused of killing Harry Dunn (right) after hitting his motorbike outside a U.S. military base in England last August. (Facebook)
In a televised interview with the BCC, Harry’s Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, vowed to continue their fight to have Sacoolas brought back to the UK to stand trial, though Charles did say the agreement was a “huge step in the right direction.”
“We now need Dominic Raab to work with us to make sure that we get her back to the U.K. to face justice at some point soon,” Charles said. “We always live with hope that one day she might just decide of her own accord to put herself on a plane and come back over here. We definitely will keep the pressure up.”
Sacoolas, 42, was allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road when she hit Dunn’s motorbike not far from RAF Croughton on Aug. 27, 2019. Dunn died at the hospital soon after.
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While admitting to driving on the other side of the road, Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the U.S. on Sept. 15, 2019, sparking outcry and an international tug of war following the death of the British teenager.
President Trump hosted Dunn’s parents at the White House last October and offered for them to meet with Sacoolas in the next room — but the mother and father both refused to see her.
Sacoolas was charged in the UK in December with causing Dunn’s death by dangerous driving. Pompeo rejected an extradition request from the Home Office in January, saying the ask was highly inappropriate and would be an abuse. A State Department spokesperson told Fox News at the time that the decision was final.
Raab also said Wednesday that UK officials “have continued to press the US on the need to improve road safety at RAF Croughton” and “welcome the steps taken by the US base commander to extend mandatory requirements for driving training and instruction for all US staff on the base, and the improvement of road signage within the base and vehicles of staff to remind them to drive on the left.”
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