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Raab says ‘UK would have acted differently’ after US refuses Dunn suspect return

Raab says ‘UK would have acted differently’ after US refuses Dunn suspect return

Friday 24 January 2020

Raab says ‘UK would have acted differently’ after US refuses Dunn suspect return

The Foreign Secretary has said the “UK would have acted differently” after the US secretary of state refused an extradition request for the suspect charged with causing the death of Harry Dunn.

In a statement, Dominic Raab said he said the rejection “amounts to a denial of justice” and said the Foreign Office believes Anne Sacoolas should return to the UK.

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.

Harry Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles
Harry Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles (David Mirzoeff/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.

His family have said they are “not surprised” by the rejection, but added that it will “not be a battle the US government is going to win”.

The Foreign Office maintains that the suspect had diplomatic immunity, which has been disputed by the family, but Mr Raab said he would look to “resolve the issue” surrounding any immunity given to staff at the base.

The Foreign Secretary said he expressed his disappointment at the decision to refuse the extradition request to the US ambassador on Friday.

In a statement, the US State Department said that at the time of the accident, and for the duration of her stay in the UK, the US citizen driver in this case had immunity from criminal jurisdiction.

A spokesman said if the US was 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.

He described the US as having a history of close law enforcement co-operation with the UK, and said it values that relationship.

He expressed the State Department’s sincere condolences and sympathy to the Dunn family for the loss of their son.

Reacting to the extradition refusal on Friday, 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.”

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 has been turned down by the US.

Business 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 UK #Justiceforharry”

Ms Leadsom met with US ambassador Woody Johnson, the commander of RAF Croughton Colonel Bridget McNamara and the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police on Friday morning at an undisclosed location.

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