Anne Sacoolas latest: Extraditing Harry Dunn crash suspect would have set 'extraordinarily troubling precedent', US says

Bronwen Weatherby
Anne Sacoolas

The US State Department has claimed that extraditing a diplomat's wife suspected of causing the death of British teenager Harry Dunn would have "set an extraordinarily troubling precedent".

The spokesman for the department, responsible for foreign diplomacy, confirmed it had declined to send the suspect in the death of Harry Dunn Anne Sacoolas back to the UK.

While expressing condolences to the Dunn family, they said Sacoolas was "involved in a tragic vehicle accident" and said she had "immunity from criminal jurisdiction".

“At the time the accident occurred, and for the duration of her stay in the UK, the U.S. citizen driver, in this case, had immunity from criminal jurisdiction,” the spokesman said.

"If the United States were to grant the UK’s extradition request, it would render the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity and would set an extraordinarily troubling precedent.”

Dominic Raab responded to the refusal has said the UK Government "would have acted differently if this had been a UK diplomat serving in the US".

Pompeo has denied the extradition request (AP)

The Foreign Secretary said the Government is "disappointed" with the decision to block the request, which he said he called the US ambassador Mike Pompeo about. ​

The 19-year-old’s parents Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn were informed of Mike Pompeo’s decision to refuse the request in a phone call with their constituency MP, Andrea Leadsom, on Thursday.

The Dunn family said the US decision was “one of the darkest days” for the two countries' special relationship.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Dunn family have said it is the first time in the 100-year history of the extradition treaty that such a request had been turned down by the US.

Anne Sacoolas has claimed diplomatic immunity in her home country and her lawyers said she would not return to the UK voluntarily (PA)

The teenager died when his motorbike crashed into a car outside RAF Croughton in August last year.

Mrs Sacoolas, 42, claimed diplomatic immunity following the crash and was able to return to her home country, sparking an international controversy.

Mr Raab said: “I called the US ambassador earlier to express the Government’s disappointment about this decision.

“We feel this amounts to a denial of justice, and we believe Anne Sacoolas should return to the UK.

“We are now urgently considering our options. I also explained that the UK would have acted differently if this had been a UK diplomat serving in the US.

“I emphasised that work to improve road safety on and around the Croughton base must continue, and the need to resolve the issue whereby family members at RAF Croughton are immune from criminal prosecution.”

Buisness Secretary Andrea Leadsom, the constituency MP for Harry Dunn’s family, has said the suspect charged with causing the teenager’s death “should come back to the UK”.

In a tweet, Ms Leadsom said: “I am deeply sorry that extradition has been refused.

“This was a tragic road accident where a much loved young man died.

“His family are heartbroken. The person who has been charged by the CPS should come back to the U.K. #Justiceforharry”.

Despite the rejection, the Dunn family were remaining resolute that they will get justice one day.

Family spokesman Radd Seiger told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I can assure your listeners this morning that despite the development last night we know for sure that she will be coming back one day, there is no other way forward.

“The reality is that this administration, which we say is behaving lawlessly and taking a wrecking ball to one of the greatest alliances in the world, they won’t be around forever whereas that extradition request will be.

“We will simply plot and plan for a reasonable administration to come in one day and to reverse this decision.”​

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