For­eign Of­fice ‘told cops Harry Dunn’s killer was above law’

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Ruth David­son - By Harry Cole

MIN­IS­TERS were warned two days after the death of Harry Dunn that the ex-CIA agent re­spon­si­ble only had an ‘am­bigu­ous’ claim to diplo­matic im­mu­nity, The Mail on Sun­day can re­veal.

But after talks with Washington DC, the For­eign & Com­mon­wealth Of­fice (FCO) failed to pass on these con­cerns to po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing Amer­i­can Anne Sa­coolas for death by dan­ger­ous driv­ing after she col­lided with the 19-year-old mo­tor­cy­clist while driv­ing on the wrong side of the road.

Nor did they tell Northamp­ton­shire Po­lice that the US had re­fused to waive her claim of im­mu­nity un­til after she had fled Bri­tain two weeks later, de­spite be­ing warned she was leav­ing.

Guid­ance from the Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice states that it is a mat­ter for the po­lice to es­tab­lish if a sus­pect of a crime has im­mu­nity rather than the Gov­ern­ment.

The Northamp­ton­shire force is set to ar­gue in court that this de­lay stopped them seek­ing pow­ers to ar­rest Ms Sa­coolas after the ac­ci­dent out­side the US spy base RAF Croughton on Au­gust 27.

Two se­nior FCO Min­is­ters, Heather Wheeler and Chris Pincher, were told by civil ser­vants on Au­gust 30 that there was ‘some am­bi­gu­ity around the case’, with the warn­ing sent to For­eign Sec­re­tary Do­minic Raab’s pri­vate of­fice and FCO per­ma­nent sec­re­tary Sir Si­mon Mc­Don­ald.

A well-placed source said the of­fi­cials warned that the US gov­ern­ment ap­peared to be ex­ploit­ing a du­bi­ously worded treaty to re­cuse Ms Sa­coolas from crim­i­nal li­a­bil­ity.

But three days later, on Septem­ber

2, it is un­der­stood the FCO – fol­low­ing con­ver­sa­tions with the US gov­ern­ment – con­tacted Northamp­ton­shire Po­lice to say they be­lieved Sa­coolas had full im­mu­nity from pros­e­cu­tion.

Last night the force did not deny that they had failed to make any fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the diplo­matic sit­u­a­tion at that point.

These cru­cial days after the tragic crash are to be ex­am­ined by the High Court after Harry’s Dunn’s fam­ily took le­gal ac­tion against the FCO and Northamp­ton­shire Po­lice.

Last month the MoS re­vealed that se­nior diplo­mat Neil Hol­land had texted a US of­fi­cial on Septem­ber 15 to sug­gest Sa­coolas ‘get­ting on the next flight out’.

The po­lice were not in­formed she had left un­til the fol­low­ing day.

Last night Harry’s mother Char­lotte Charles said the lat­est rev­e­la­tions made her ‘more de­ter­mined now than ever to bring the case to court and have this all ex­posed and those re­spon­si­ble for this mess held to ac­count’.

Harry’s fam­ily are pur­su­ing a ju­di­cial re­view to have Ms Sa­coolas’s claims of im­mu­nity ren­dered un­law­ful, with se­nior Tories wor­ried the FCO is on course for an em­bar­rass­ing de­feat.

One said: ‘Raab had been in the job for a mat­ter of weeks so it’s not clear he had a full grip on the place yet. The more that comes out the worse this looks.’

A diplo­matic source said: ‘It’s all kick­ing off be­tween the FCO and the po­lice.

‘The FCO ap­pears to have told them she had diplo­matic im­mu­nity and the po­lice took that as gospel, when ac­tu­ally it was their job to in­ves­ti­gate it.’

Chair­man of the For­eign Af­fairs Select Com­mit­tee Tom Tu­gend­hat told the MoS: ‘Harry Dunn’s fam­ily are rightly con­cerned to know ex­actly what hap­pened but we all need to know how im­mu­nity is used in our coun­try. This has raised ques­tions I know the For­eign Of­fice will want to clar­ify as soon as pos­si­ble.’

Last night a spokesman for Northamp­ton­shire Po­lice said ‘it would ‘be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment at this time.’

Speak­ing on be­half of Harry’s fam­ily, Ms Charles added: ‘We will not let what hap­pened to us hap­pen to any­one ever again and There have clearly been very se­ri­ous fail­ings at the FCO.’

Last night the FCO said: ‘We are con­fi­dent that we have acted prop­erly and law­fully in re­la­tion to Harry’s death.’

‘The more that comes out the worse this looks’

VIC­TIM: Harry Dunn, 19, was killed in the col­li­sion with Anne Sa­coolas

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.