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Suspect in fatal motorbike crash uses diplomatic privilege to flee country

Published: 08 October 2019

Updated: 08 October 2019

The family of a motorcyclist who was killed in an accident outside an RAF base are fighting for justice after the named suspect fled the country using diplomatic immunity status.

Harry Dunn, 19, died after colliding with a car that was being driven on the wrong side of the road. Harry was riding on the B4031 Park End, Croughton, Northants, when he was hit by the car.

Northamptonshire Police have named the suspect as Anne Sacoolas, 42, the wife of a US diplomat – who was questioned at the time of the accident on August 27, but who has since fled back to America.

Now the family is fighting for to have Sacoolas brought back to the UK so that the investigation into the collision can continue. Their battle is supported by Foreign Secretary Dominac Raab, and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

Speaking to the BBC, Johnson said: "I do not think it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose. I hope Anne Sacoolas will come back and engage properly with the processes of law as they are carried out in this country.

"We are raising this with the American Ambassador in the UK, and I hope it will be resolved very shortly. If we can’t resolve it, I will be raising it personally with the White House."

Harry’s mum Charlotte plans to travel to the US

Northants Police said that Sacoolas had agreed not to leave the country when initially questioned. Supt Sarah Johnson confirmed: "We are exploring all opportunities through diplomatic channels to ensure the investigation continues. Harry Dunn’s family deserve justice."

Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold, also confirmed that he "had written, in the strongest terms, to the US Embassy urging them to apply the diplomatic immunity waiver."

With extraordinary dignity, Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, was interviewed on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, saying: "[It was] unintentional. She didn’t purposely drive on the other side of the road... if she’d have stayed and faced us as a family we could have found that forgiveness... but forgiving her for leaving, I’m nowhere near."

The US State Department has confirmed that it is in discussions with British officials and is reported to have conveyed its "deepest sympathies" to Dunn’s family following the accident.

A crowdfunding page set up to help raise funds to cover any legal costs has almost reached  £10,000 (gofundme/justice4harry).

What is diplomatic immunity?

Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal protection afforded under the 1961 Vienna Convention.

It states that diplomats and family members are immune from prosecution in their host country, as long as they are not nationals of that country.

However, their immunity can be waived by the country that employs them. Diplomats are obliged to respect the laws of their host country, but the provision can be misused as a 'get out of jail free' card.

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