In Brief

Anne Sacoolas: hit-and-run diplomat’s wife to meet victim’s parents

Anne Sacoolas’ sudden return to US means immunity ‘no longer pertinent’, says Foreign Office

A US diplomat’s wife who fled the UK after a hit-and-run incident that killed a British teenager has said she wants to meet the boy’s parents to “express her deepest sympathies”.

Anne Sacoolas left the UK shortly after the fatal collision between Harry Dunn’s motorbike and a car driving on the wrong side of the road outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on 27 August.

The Guardian says “she is believed to have been driving the car but while she met with Northamptonshire police no investigation followed after the force was advised by the UK government that she had the protective status granted to foreign diplomats”.

Her sudden return to the US, despite assurances to police should would stay in the UK and cooperate with their investigation, sparked a diplomatic row that has involved senior members of the British government and Trump administration, and raised serious questions about the scope and practice of diplomatic immunity.

While the US government has steadfastly refused to waive immunity, a letter seen by the BBC from the Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabb to Dunn’s family says that by returning to the US, the issue of immunity “is no longer pertinent”.

“We have looked at this very carefully … the UK government’s position is that immunity, and therefore any question of waiver, is no longer relevant in Mrs Sacoolas’ case, because she has returned home,” it said. “The US have now informed us that they too consider that immunity is no longer pertinent. In these circumstances, Harry's case is now a matter for Northants police and the CPS to take forward.”

CNN says this “could provide an opportunity for UK authorities to commence legal action with a view to extraditing Sacoolas back to the UK to face prosecution”.

However, Home Secretary Priti Patel played down the prospects of extradition, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the government was committed to ensuring “justice is done, but obviously that cooperation with this investigation takes place”.

On Friday, Boris Johnson said the US had been “absolutely ruthless” in its resistance to the prospect of returning Sacoolas to face justice in the UK. The prime minister said that although Donald Trump expressed sympathy towards Dunn’s family, America was “very reluctant” to allow citizens to be tried abroad.

Dunn’s parents, who have previously said they are considering civil action, are travelling to the US to meet with Sacoolas, who is said to be “devastated” by the accident but insists she had “fully cooperated” with the investigation, her lawyers said.

It is understood to be the first contact between the two parties since Sacoolas left the UK and “raises hopes that a major row between the US and UK governments could be avoided” says the Daily Mail.

Although Dunn’s parents have said they are open to meeting, his mother, Charlotte Charles, has told Sky News an apology is “not enough”.

“My opinion on Anne Sacoolas now wanting to come forward and say sorry – to be perfectly honest - yes, it’s the start of some closure for our family,” she said. “Having said that, as it’s nearly seven weeks now since we lost our boy, sorry just doesn’t cut it.”–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

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