FACE JUSTICE FOR MY SON
From one mother to another, agonised plea to diplomat’s wife who fled to U.S. after fatal crash
A GRIEVING mother yesterday begged an American diplomat’s wife to face justice over a crash that killed her son.
Charlotte Charles said Anne Sacoolas must answer questions over the death of Harry, 19.
The 42-year-old mother of three has fled to the US where she is hiding behind diplomatic immunity.
‘All we need to do is ask her to come back,’ said Mrs Charles, 44. ‘It’s not much to ask. She’s left a family in complete ruin. We’re broken.’
London and Washington were locked in an extraordinary standoff last night over the issue. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been urging US ambassador Woody Johnson and
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reconsider their protection for Mrs Sacoolas.
However a Foreign Office source said Mr Pompeo gave no indication that the US would back down. Boris Johnson, who insists Mrs Sacoolas must return to Britain, will challenge Donald Trump if there is no progress within 48 hours.
Mrs Charles said: ‘This supposed amazing relationship with the US needs to be used to its full potential.’
Mrs Sacoolas is wanted for questioning over the fatal crash involving her Volvo and Harry’s motorcycle outside an RAF base in Northamptonshire. Police say she was on the wrong side of the road.
Most staff given diplomatic immunity work for the CIA, according to a former intelligence official. ‘If the CIA was involved then they would have had her out of there before the ambassador even knew,’ the source told The Times. In other developments:
It emerged that Mrs Sacoolas has a driving conviction in the US;
Northamptonshire Police said they had no idea when she fled;
Washington was accused of hypocrisy because it had succeeded in having immunity revoked in criminal cases involving foreign diplomats posted in the US;
And last year Britain rescinded the immunity of a UK diplomat’s husband so he could be charged with domestic violence.
Harry, who worked at a petrol station, was on his way to his father’s house in Brackley, Northamptonshire, when the collision happened outside RAF Croughton, a US intelligence hub. The teenager, who had clocked up 50,000 miles on motorcycles, suffered horrific injuries and died in hospital.
Mrs Sacoolas, who had her 12year-old son in the car, was spoken to by police the following day – August 28 – and said she had no plans to leave the UK.
Officers became aware immunity was an issue because her husband was a diplomat and applied to the US embassy for a waiver to allow them to question her.
But they were later informed the waiver had been refused and Mrs Sacoolas had left the country.
Mrs Charles, who works in a GP surgery, said: ‘The police had the CCTV footage showing she pulled out of the RAF base onto the wrong side of the road. Harry had no chance of avoiding her. She travelled from around 350 to 400 yards on the wrong side of the road. It was a head-on collision. We later lost him in hospital.’
Harry’s father Tim Dunn, who is separated from Mrs Charles, added: ‘She was compliant with the police, she admitted at the time she was in the wrong.’
Mrs Charles said the family would travel to Washington if necessary to fight for justice for Harry, who had a twin brother Niall.
She said she just wanted to speak to Mrs Sacoolas ‘as a mum’, adding: ‘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.’ A government source said of Mr Raab’s call to Mr Pompeo: ‘The Foreign Secretary reiterated our position, expressed disappointment with the US decision and urged him to reconsider.’
It is understood that US officials fear that handing Mrs Sacoolas over would set a dangerous precedent. But British officials point out that the UK has been willing to waive immunity in serious cases including that of Youssef Amroche, the 37-year-old husband of a British diplomat in New York.
He was accused of beating his wife, who worked for the UK ambassador to the United Nations, at their apartment.
Police arrested Mr Amroche, a Moroccan citizen, but had to release him. New York City Hall expressed gratitude to Britain when the prosecution of Mr Amroche was allowed to proceed.
Another case involved Gueorgui Makharadze, a Georgian diplomat who crashed his car into a line of vehicles in Washington in 1997, killing a teenage girl. He was jailed for 21 years after the US asked Georgia to waive his immunity.
Mr Johnson said yesterday: ‘I hope Anne Sacoolas will come back and will engage properly with the processes of law as they are carried out in this country.’
Northamptonshire’s chief constable Nick Adderley said: ‘ 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 country. And then the next minute we found out that, actually, she and her family had left. It was really disappointing.’
The US embassy in London confirmed details of the case and said immunity was rarely waived.
Mrs Sacoolas could not be reached for comment yesterday.
She and husband Jonathan arrived in August and their three children were enrolled at £19,000-ayear Winchester House school in Brackley. Harry’s father is head of maintenance there.
Tears: Charlotte Charles on TV Fatal injuries: Harry Dunn Inset: Anne Sacoolas