US diplomat wife used immunity to flee UK after fatal crash: police

  • A 42-year-old American woman is believed to have fatally hit a British teenager with a car while driving near a Royal Air Force station in England in August this year.
  • She told police she would stay in the country to cooperate in the investigation, but she and her family have since claimed diplomatic immunity to return to the US.
  • Diplomats and their families are legally entitled to claim immunity from being tried in their host country.
  • Sky News and the BBC have revealed the suspect’s name is Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat in England.
  • The parents of the victim, Harry Dunn, are appealing for her to return to the UK.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The wife of an American diplomat in the UK who was involved in a fatal collision with a British teenager claimed diplomatic immunity to flee the country, police say.

The woman, named by the BBC and Sky News as Anne Sacoolas, is believed to have hit Harry Dunn in a head-on collision while she was driving near RAF Croughton, a Royal Air Force station in England used by the US Air Force, in late August, Sky News reported.

A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire Police declined to confirm the suspect’s identity, but identified her as a 42-year-old American woman in a statement issued on Saturday.

Dunn, 19, had been riding his motorbike and Sacoolas had been driving on the wrong side of the road at the time, Sky News reported.

RAF Croughton, the British Air Force base used by the US Air Force in the East Midlands in England.
Google Maps

Police said that after the collision, it had worked “closely with the suspect, who engaged fully with us at the time and had previously confirmed to us that she had no plans to leave the country in the near future.”

Police also told Sky News that they applied for a waiver from diplomatic immunity shortly after their meeting so they could conduct further investigations.

“We were latterly advised that the waiver had been declined and the suspect had left the UK,” Superintendent Sarah Johnson told Sky News.

Sky News reported that someone on the American side had advised the woman and her family to return to the US.

Diplomats and their families are legally entitled to claim immunity from being tried in their host country as long as they are not nationals there as well. The diplomat’s home country can cancel this immunity, but the US State Department said on Saturday that diplomatic immunity is “rarely waived,” the BBC reported.

A home video of Harry Dunn.
Sky News

It’s not clear when exactly the suspect left the country. The US Embassy in London has not yet responded to Insider’s request for comment.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also not yet responded to Insider’s request for confirmation of the woman’s name.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that he regretted the US decision to let the woman leave, and that he had “called the US Ambassador [in London] to express the UK’s disappointment with their decision, and to urge the Embassy to re-consider it.”

Read more: International divers that helped the Thai cave rescue were given diplomatic immunity in case something went wrong

Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn.
Sky News

Dunn’s parents are now appealing for Sacoolas to return to the UK.

Charlotte Charles, Dunn’s mother, told Sky News: “We don’t know how we can start to grieve for him … We have nothing. No justice. We have nothing to put our minds at rest that she’s even remorseful.”

“We are not out to get her put behind bars,” she added, according to the BBC. “If that’s what the justice system ends up doing then we can’t stop that but we’re not out to do that, we’re out to try and get some peace for ourselves.”

Tim Dunn, the victim’s father, also told Sky News that Sacoolas’ departure under diplomatic immunity was “appalling.”

“It’s basically saying you can do what you like and you’ll be okay — it’s wrong,” he said. “It can’t be right.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise £10,000 ($12,327) for a legal campaign to prevent people from claiming diplomatic immunity in such circumstances.

“If we don’t get justice we’ll try and use money to get the law changed so people can’t kill and go away,” Charles told Sky News.

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