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Britain, U.S. end 'anomaly' that shielded diplomat's wife after traffic death

By
Don Jacobson
The family of Harry Dunn leave the Foreign Office in London, Britain, on October 9, 2019, after meeting with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. The family is asking for justice after their son Harry was killed in a traffic accident involving Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. diplomat. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
The family of Harry Dunn leave the Foreign Office in London, Britain, on October 9, 2019, after meeting with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. The family is asking for justice after their son Harry was killed in a traffic accident involving Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. diplomat. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

July 22 (UPI) -- U.S. and British officials agreed Wednesday to close a loophole through which an American woman charged in the death of a motorcyclist was allowed to leave Britain via diplomatic immunity.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told Parliament that the nations agreed to end an "anomaly" in their diplomatic arrangements that shielded family members of staffers at RAF Croughton from criminal prosecution.

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"Those arrangements contained a waiver of immunity from criminal jurisdiction for U.S. staff outside the course of their duties, but no such waiver for their family members," he said.

"The U.S. waiver of immunity from criminal jurisdiction is now expressly extended to the family members."

RELATED U.S. refuses to return diplomat's wife to Britain over traffic death

The agreement also extended the waiver to all Embassy staff at Croughton and added a waiver in respect of inviolability.

The deal came after Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an intelligence officer at RAF Croughton, was able to return to the United States last year after she was involved in a traffic accident that killed 19-year-old Harry Dunn.

RAF Croughton is a U.S. Air Force communications station in Northamptonshire, about 60 miles northwest of London.

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Police had charged Sacoolas in December with causing death by dangerous driving. An investigation concluded that Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road.

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"We have the deepest sympathy for Harry Dunn's family," Raab said Wednesday. "No family should have to experience what they have gone through and I recognize that these changes will not bring Harry back.

"However, I hope that the knowledge that the Croughton arrangements have been revised and that a family in their position would now see justice done brings some small measure of comfort."

RELATED British prosecutors charge wife of U.S. diplomat in biker's death

Dunn's family took legal action against the British Foreign Office and Northamptonshire Police over the deadly accident. Wednesday, his mother said the change is a "huge step forward," but vowed the family won't stop its campaign to have Sacoolas extradited from United States to face charges.

The U.S. State Department has rejected requests to return Sacoolas to Britain, arguing that doing so would set a dangerous precedent.

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