Great Britain

Harry Dunn: US diplomat's wife Anne Sacoolas charged with causing death of teenager

Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat, has been charged with causing the death of British teenager Harry Dunn by dangerous driving.

The 42-year-old returned to her home country after the car she was driving allegedly collided with the 19-year-old’s motorbike outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on 27 August.

Ms Sacoolas subsequently claimed diplomatic immunity, despite the Foreign Office later saying her husband was not a registered diplomat in a recognised role.

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Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, families of diplomats are granted immunity from arrest or detention, with the sending state able to issue a waiver of that immunity.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, the immunity does not apply to dependants of consular officials based outside of London.

The CPS reached its charging decision on Wednesday – just under seven weeks after the completed file of evidence was first handed to the prosecution service – and will now begin extradition proceedings through the Home Office.

Mr Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, were informed of the charge on Friday. Ms Charles said she “would never have been able to rest properly” without securing justice for her son.

“I carried out my promise to one of my kids, the promise that I made that we would get that justice,” she told Sky News. “I’ve managed to fulfil the promise. It means everything.”

Ms Sacoolas was twice interviewed by Northamptonshire Police – once on the day after the crash, and on another occasion by officers who travelled to the US.

Extradition between the US and the UK is governed by a treaty signed by both countries in 2003, and requests prepared by the CPS are sent by the Home Office to the requested state – in this case the US – through the diplomatic route.

Mr Dunn’s death was the start of three months’ worth of separate legal battles for the teenager’s family – a judicial review against the Foreign Office, a referral of Northamptonshire Police to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), an investigation into the US administration’s handling of the case and a civil claim against Ms Sacoolas herself.

Since the investigation into the teenager’s death was launched, the family have taken their fight to the US and even met Donald Trump at the White House.

The meeting with the US president also sparked controversy after it later emerged that Ms Sacoolas was sat in the room next door ready to meet with Mr Dunn’s parents – an offer the teenager’s family refused.

Following the CPS’ ruling, foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced his intentions to address an “anomaly” in diplomatic immunities that offered “family members of US officers serving” at RAF Croughton ”greater protection from UK criminal jurisdiction than the officers themselves”.

The US state department later criticised the CPS’ ruling, deeming it unhelpful while adding it would not bring a resolution to the matter any closer.

The decision to charge the suspect came just days after Ms Charles was left “utterly devastated” by footage which showed Ms Sacoolas reversing out of her driveway at her home in the state of Virginia.

Additional reporting by PA.

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