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PM urges US to waive immunity for diplomat’s wife wanted over teen’s death crash

Mr Johnson said he would raise Harry Dunn’s case with the White House if necessary.

Undated family handout of Charlotte Charles with her son Harry Dunn who died after his motorbike collided with a car near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27.
Undated family handout of Charlotte Charles with her son Harry Dunn who died after his motorbike collided with a car near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27.

By Josh Payne, PA

Boris Johnson has urged the US to reconsider its decision to give immunity to a diplomat’s wife wanted by British police over a road crash that killed a teenager.

Vowing to raise the case of 19-year-old Harry Dunn with the White House if necessary, Mr Johnson said: “I do not think it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose.”

Police have written to the US embassy in London to demand immunity is waived for 42-year-old Anne Sacoolas, who left the UK after the crash despite telling officers she did not plan to do so.

Harry, of Banbury, died on August 27 after his motorbike collided with a car close to RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, a military base used by the US Air Force.

Ms Sacoolas is believed to have been driving on the wrong side of the road.

Northamptonshire’s  chief constable Nick Adderley said US authorities had been appealed to in “the strongest terms” to apply a waiver and “allow the justice process to take place”.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to a hospital in Watford, the Prime Minister said: “I think everybody’s sympathies are very much with the family of Harry Dunn and our condolences to them for their tragic loss.

“I must answer you directly, I do not think that it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose.

“And I hope that Anne Sacoolas will come back and will engage properly with the processes of law as they are carried out in this country.

“That’s a point that we’ve raised or are raising today with the American ambassador here in the UK and I hope it will be resolved very shortly.

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Harry Dunn was killed in August (PA/Police handout)

“And to anticipate a question you might want to raise, if we can’t resolve it then of course I will be raising it myself personally with the White House.”

The US embassy in London confirmed the incident had involved a vehicle driven by the spouse of a US diplomat who had departed the country, but added that diplomatic immunity was “rarely waived”.

In a statement, the embassy said: “We express our deepest sympathies and offer condolences to the family of the deceased in this tragic traffic accident.

“Any questions regarding a waiver of the 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.

“The US embassy has been and will continue to be in close contact with appropriate British officials.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who earlier spoke with the US ambassador Woody Johnson, raised the case in a telephone call with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Mr Raab had “reiterated his disappointment with the US decision and urged them to reconsider”.

Referring to the diplomat’s wife, Mr Adderley said:  “During the initial investigation we were given some assurances by the American authorities that she would co-operate fully with the police and … that she would not be leaving the community, and would not be leaving the country, and then the next minute we found out that, actually, she and her family had left.

“So, it was really disappointing.”

She's got to be suffering as well - she's a mum. Charlotte Charles

Harry’s mother Charlotte Charles said: “We’re not a horrible family. We’re a usual UK family that just need to put a face to what we have now as a name.

“Talk to her, find out how she’s feeling. She’s got to be suffering as well – she’s a mum.

“Without knowing who this person is properly, we can’t begin to try and start our grieving process.”

Ms Charles said: “If we have to we will go to Washington. We don’t want it to have to come to that, we don’t see why it should have to come to that… we just want to sit and talk with her.

“We just don’t understand how you can just get on a plane and leave behind the devastation she has without even speaking to us or facing us, or an apology of any kind.”

The teenager’s father Tim Dunn said: “It’s appalling. You can’t have this precedent where just because you have this immunity you can do whatever.”

PA

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