Dominic Raab urged to ‘explain himself’ over Anne Sacoolas’s intelligence work

Josh Payne, PA

The Foreign Secretary has been urged to “explain himself” after a court heard Harry Dunn’s alleged killer worked for a US intelligence agency at the time of the fatal road crash.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy asked if Dominic Raab had “simply accepted the US Embassy’s account” or whether he “misled the House” over Anne Sacoolas’s role with the US State Department.

Alexandria district court in Virginia was told of the suspect’s employment on Wednesday – and that Sacoolas “fled” the UK due to “issues of security”.

Labour leadership contest
Lisa Nandy urged Dominic Raab to “explain himself” on Friday (Danny Lawson/PA)

On Thursday, the UK Government insisted it was unaware Sacoolas was employed by a US intelligence agency, saying: “She was notified to the UK Government by the US as a spouse with no official role.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the suspect had diplomatic immunity because she was “the spouse of an accredited staff member of the US Embassy office” at the time of crash.

But Ms Nandy said “Harry’s family deserve the truth” and said he must speak to MPs about the case on Friday.

The 19-year-old was killed in a crash outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019.

Sacoolas, 43, was able to return to her home country after the US government asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving but an extradition request was rejected by the State Department in January last year.

Harry Dunn death
Charlotte Charles urged both Governments to help the family find a resolution (Jacob King/PA)

On Thursday, Ms Nandy said: “As an employee at RAF Croughton Anne Sacoolas would not have been entitled to immunity from prosecution.

“Dominic Raab told MPs that she was entitled to protection as the spouse of an employee, but new information provided by her lawyer clearly indicates that she wasn’t.

“Did the Foreign Secretary simply accept the US Embassy’s account without asking any of the right questions on behalf of a UK citizen, or has he misled the House?

“After almost 18 months of fighting for justice for their son, Harry’s family deserve the truth. Dominic Raab must come before MPs tomorrow and explain himself.”

Also addressing the latest developments, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters “we don’t comment on intelligence matters”.

He added: “I would emphasise that our position on this case remains unchanged, we have consistently called for her diplomatic immunity to be waived and believe that the US refusal to extradite her amounts to a denial of justice.”

Mr Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told the PA news agency “there is still time” for both governments to find a resolution to the case despite the latest developments.

The revelations about Sacoolas’s employment came out during an application to dismiss a civil claim for damages against her made by the Dunn family on Wednesday.

The suspect’s lawyer, John McGavin, told the court he could not “completely candidly” explain why the Sacoolas family left the UK, adding: “I know the answer, but I cannot disclose it.”

The court heard one of the reasons she had not returned to the UK was a “fear” that because of the “media attention, she would not have a fair trial”.

Mr McGavin said she was “currently apologetic” and has “accepted responsibility for the accident”.

Mrs Charles told PA: “We did our level best before the campaign went public to try and deal with this amicably and publicly and we came up against a brick wall.

“We’ve been put through hell over the last 18 months, totally needlessly.

“That said, there is still time for both governments to come forward and to work with us to ensure that there is justice for my son.

“We remain absolutely open to holding talks with officials in London and Washington to find a path forward.”

The claim from Sacoolas’s lawyer about her employment at the time of the crash has raised questions about the diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf.

Under agreements at RAF Croughton dating back to 1995, anyone working at the base from the US as part of “administrative and technical staff” would have immunity pre-waived, meaning they would not be immune from criminal jurisdiction.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: “The UK High Court has found that Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity while in the country under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”

In his statement released on Thursday, Mr Price said: “We again offer our sincere condolences and sympathy to the Dunn family for the loss of their son. This was a tragic accident.

“Since the tragic accident occurred, the United States has been closely engaged with the UK government, and we have been transparent about our positions on legal and diplomatic matters concerning this accident.

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

“As we have said previously, the driver had diplomatic immunity because she was the spouse of an accredited staff member of the US Embassy office.

“We do not have further comment on these judicial proceedings.”

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