UK government ‘didn’t know’ woman involved in Dunn crash worked for US intelligence

The UK government has said it was unaware the woman accused of killing Harry Dunn was employed by a US intelligence agency at the time of the crash.

Anne Sacoolas was leaving RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019 when she was involved in a collision with 19-year-old Harry, who was on his motorbike.

She had been driving on the wrong side of the road but claimed diplomatic immunity due to her husband’s employment at the spy base and returned to the US.

The accident happened at RAF Croughton, a US airbase
Image:The accident happened at RAF Croughton, a US airbase

Despite being charged with causing death by dangerous driving and an extradition request by the UK, Mrs Sacoolas has refused to return.

Harry’s family has made a civil claim for damages and her application to dismiss the case is being heard at the Alexandria District Court in Virginia.

Mrs Sacoolas’s lawyer, John McGavin, told the court she was “employed by an intelligence agency in the US” at the time of the crash – which was “especially a factor” in her departure from Britain.

But the prime minister’s spokesman told reporters on Thursday that “she was notified to the UK government by the US as a spouse with no official role”.

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They said that the government’s position was unchanged – “that the US refusal to extradite her amounts to a denial of justice”.

The admission about her employment raises questions over the purported diplomatic immunity.

Harry Dunn's parents visited London to meet Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Image:Harry Dunn’s parents have previously visited London to meet with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Under the agreements at RAF Croughton, anyone working at the base as part of the “administrative and technical staff” would not be immune from prosecution.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has now called for Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to explain himself in light of the new developments.

She said: “Did the foreign secretary simply accept the US embassy’s account without asking any of the right questions on behalf of a UK citizen, or has he misled the House?”

US presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden have both declined to send Mrs Sacoolas to the UK, saying the rejection of the extradition request is final.

A State Department spokesman reiterated on Thursday that she had immunity as she was “the spouse of an accredited staff member of the US Embassy office”.

A spokesman for Harry Dunn‘s family, Radd Seiger, said: “Given the admission in open court by Mrs Sacoolas’s counsel that she was employed by US intelligence services at the time of the crash, the UK authorities must now urgently reinvestigate whether she had diplomatic immunity.

“They have to investigate given that employees had their immunity pre-waived under the 1995 RAF Croughton legal agreement.”

Radd Seiger
Image:Spokesman Radd Seiger said authorities must urgently reinvestigate Anne Sacoolas’s diplomatic immunity

Mrs Sacoolas’s lawyer told the Virginia court on Wednesday that she had “fled” the UK due to “issues of security”, adding that he could not “completely candidly” explain the reason behind this.

He added: “I know the answer but I cannot disclose it.”

Mr McGavin said the suspect was “currently apologetic” and has “accepted responsibility for the accident” but there had been “fear” that because of the “media attention, she would not have a fair trial”.

Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said the family had been “put through hell over the last 18 months” but that there was still time for both governments “to come forward and to work with us to ensure that there is justice for my son”.

“We remain absolutely open to holding talks with officials in London and Washington to find a path forward,” she said.

The civil damages case in Virginia has been adjourned until 17 February.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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