Boris Johnson has said he hopes a diplomat’s wife who claimed immunity and left the UK after being accused of killing a British teenager in a car crash will return to the UK – and will raise it with the White House if she does not.
The prime minister said 19-year-old Harry Dunn’s death after he was hit by a car outside RAF Croughton, Northamptonshire, on 27 August was a tragic loss.
Anne Sacoolas, who is the main suspect, left the UK after claiming diplomatic immunity as her husband, Jonathan Sacoolas, works at the US spy base.
Police believe Mrs Sacoolas, who has three children, drove out of the airbase on to the wrong side of the road, hitting the teenager head on.
The prime minister said on Monday: I do not think that it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose.
I hope that Anne Sacoolas will come back and engage properly with the processes of law as they’re carried out in this country.
That’s a point we are raising today with the American ambassador here in the UK.
I hope it will be resolved very shortly. If we can’t resolve it then of course I will be raising it myself personally with the White House.
In response, a US State Department spokesman said immunity is rarely waived.
He said: Any questions regarding a waiver of immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive intense attention at senior levels and are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry; immunity is rarely waived.
We cannot speculate on what actions the British Government may take. While we are in close consultation with the appropriate British officials, we cannot comment on private diplomatic conversation with the British Government.
But Harry’s family’s lawyer, Radd Seiger, who is American, said the reality about waiving immunity is the opposite and called on a senior US representative to visit the family and explain to them why you whisked a person who killed their son out overnight without telling anybody.
He told Sky News: There may be a good reason but the US are saying waivers are rarely granted.
I’ve looked at this very very closely and in my view the exact opposite is true. You will struggle to find cases where waivers are not granted.
So, not only do we not understand their position we are not accepting what they say, that waivers aren’t granted.
I have many examples of where they have sought waivers for their own country and they’ve been granted. There’s a degree of hypocrisy coming out here.
Tthe first pictures of Mrs Sacoolas, who was named by Sky News on Sunday, were also revealed on Monday.
Northamptonshire Police’s chief constable, Nick Adderley, told Sky News Mrs Sacoolas has a moral obligation to help police with their investigation and make sure Harry’s family gets answers.
However, he said there is very little we can do when a suspect claims diplomatic immunity.
He added: We could have arrested her, we could have taken her into custody, but as soon as diplomatic immunity is invoked we can ask for the waiver – and we did.
As soon as we were made aware she was covered by the immunity, we made a waiver application. Whether she’s in custody or not we would have had to let her leave.
She would have left in any case.
Sky News understands Northamptonshire Police were in the process of requesting a waiver of diplomatic immunity when they were informed that Mrs Sacoolas and her family had left the UK.
The waiver was turned down by the US and a source said she had been recalled by the US embassy.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service’s website, only diplomats and their families based in London are entitled to claim diplomatic immunity.
However, Sky News understands there was a special arrangement between the UK and US extending it to those based at RAF Croughton, a US spy base.
Harry’s mum, Charlotte Charles, told Sky News: The police had the CCTV footage released showing she pulled out of the RAF base on to the wrong side of the road, unfortunately where the crash was is on the brow of a hill.
Harry had no chance of avoiding her. She travelled from around 350 to 400 yards on the wrong side of the road. It was a head on collision. We later lost him in hospital.
Harry’s dad, Tim Dunn added: She was compliant with the police, she admitted at the time she was in the wrong. We know from the police she was going to stay in the country, she was permitted to stay here for three years.
And then we didn’t think this would be what is happening so to hear the news a few weeks after the funeral was devastating.
Mrs Charles added that she wants Mr Johnson to use the UK’s special relationship with the US to help them.
She said: This supposed amazing relationship with the US needs to be used to its full potential and Boris Johnson we would really appreciate your help. Every bit of help possible to try to get her back.
Harry always fought for what he thought was right. We’re honouring him by doing this. We just have to keep going to try to get some closure.
All we need to do is to meet her, all we need to do is ask her to come back. It’s not much to ask. She’s left a family in complete ruin. We’re broken.
Sky News has made every effort to contact Mrs Sacoolas online, but she has not responded.
A short time after we sent her messages, her social media account disappeared.
Sky News has also been to her original address in the US but she has not returned to it.
(c) Sky News 2019: Anne Sacoolas: PM will go to Trump if US diplomat’s wife does not return to UK following fatal crash