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Harry Dunn

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PDR
1332407.  Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:14 am Reply with quote

We have seen much in the press about the sad death of Harry Dunn, whose motorbike was in collision with the car of Anne Sacoolas near RAF Croughton a few days ago. It is alleged that Ms Sacoolas exited a junction on the wrong side of the road which may or may not have been a factor in the collision (we don't know).

Ms Sacoolas is married to a US Serviceman based in the listening post at RAF Croughton. As far as we are aware she is not emploed in any military or technical capacity, and her presence here is in her capacity as spouse rather than to perform a specific role at the base.

We have been told that after being interviewed by the police, and assuring them she would remain availble for further questions, she was then seemingly immediately flown back to the USA claiming "diplomatic immunity". Appeals are apparently being made to induce America to waive the immunity as they pursuaded the Georgian government to do when theoir diplomat Gueorgui Makharadze caused a five-car pile-up in Washington DC, resulting in the death of a teenage girl.

Other reports have suggested that she was actually protected by the Visiting Forces Act (which allows certain service and military-employed-civilians to be subject to their military justice rather than british criminal justice).

There are many aspects to this, and its a real shame because even if she was held 100% responsible for the accident she would be very unlikley to have faced more than a fine and driving restrictions - a custodial sentence would be unlikely in a case where the fault wasn't reckless or malicious. But it's all beginning to unravel.

The VFA wouln't apply, because it only covers in cases that would normally be heard in a US military court (which a driving offence by a non-serviceperson wouldn't). The diplomatic case rendered less sound by the detail that neither Mr Sacoolas nor Ms Sacoolas are actually accredited diplomatic staff within the meaning of the Vienna Convention. All there seems to be is a loose understanding that GCHQ and NSA staff would be treated as if they were diplomats (which understanding has no basis in law).

So it looks like the US government, possibly in conspiricy with the UK government, state or armed services, has aided and abetted a fugative from justice (or something). So we are left with the possibility of trying to extradite the woman for further enquiries and a possible trial. Our track record of gaining extraditions from the colonies isn't exactly encouraging...

PDR

[As ever, Craig Murray's commentary on this is interesting]

 
Alexander Howard
1332419.  Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:44 am Reply with quote

It's unlikely to be a conspiracy, but possibly a certain fell in Cumberland.

Causing death by reckless driving is a serious matter so the FCO should be on it. (Obviously innocent until proven guilty-as-hell.)

If she does have diplomatic immunity then it is entirely up to the American government, and that principle is more important than doing justice in the individual case. If she does not, let the process begin.

Nothing however will bring bad the poor teenaged lad who set out on his Kawasaki with his whole life ahead of him.

 
barbados
1332421.  Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:47 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Our track record of gaining extraditions from the colonies isn't exactly encouraging...

Do you have any grounds to base that claim?
Apparently there have bee 54 requests for extradition, 36 we’re successful and the remaining 18 were dropped by the UK. None were refused. That says it is a quite encouraging record

 
cornixt
1332462.  Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:11 am Reply with quote

I got the impression that she left the UK under her own steam while the UK police were still working out what to do, not that she was spirited away by the US.

 
PDR
1332496.  Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:27 am Reply with quote

I'm not sure. She must have had *something* to allow here to pass through the airport because she'd routinely have been flagged as a person of interest in an RTA. As a foreign national that would normally mean her ID gets a flag that would stop her at passport control. As she didn't (it would seem) have an actual diplomatic passport someone somewhere must have pulled the strings to get the flag lifted due to alleged diplomatic immunity.

If diplomatic immunity WASN'T claimed then we'd have expected the tabloid headlines to be foucssed on how the police let her run away, rather than having the PM talk about asking USA to waive it.

But of course she wasn't a diplomat and had no such immunity. The press know this, but are not commenting on it which may indicate (as Craig points out) that it's subject to a DSMA notice.

PDR

 
suze
1332497.  Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:32 am Reply with quote

cornixt wrote:
I got the impression that she left the UK under her own steam while the UK police were still working out what to do, not that she was spirited away by the US.


That is not how it is being reported here. Mrs Sacoolas was spoken to by Northamptonshire Police after the incident, and was told not to leave the country; she said that she wasn't planning to. Since then, she and her husband have both left the country.

Why has he left too? Probably because his cover has been blown. His name has been in the media, as has the nature of his work. It would be unusual for Britain to order an American to leave for "activities incompatible with diplomatic status", so it may be that our people suggested to the American people that they'd better get him out of the country before The Guardian thought of that angle.

As PDR has noted before, the British authorities know very well why certain foreign personnel are here. They pretend not to know, but there is a mutual understanding that such personnel have to go if they become an embarrassment.

Whether Mrs Sacoolas strictly has diplomatic immunity is actually irrelevant. The Americans assert that she does, and they're not going to change their stance on that. Neither are they going to waive it in this instance; it is US policy not to do that. Sure, they think it's just fine to demand that other countries do it, but that's what the US is like.

I very much doubt that the PM really will raise this case with President Trump. If he does, he will simply be told "No, and if you ever mention this again you will find me mysteriously unavailable next time you wish to speak". That's just what the US is like.

Mrs Sacoolas will not be prosecuted in absentia, because the CPS will be told not to. If the decedent's family attempt to bring a private prosection, based on the argument that Mrs Sacoolas does not have diplomatic immunity, they will be visited late at night by men in dark suits who will tell them not to. The decedent's father claims that he will visit the US himself to do some protesting - but he won't, because you can be pretty sure that he will be refused entry.

I wish I didn't believe that last paragraph, but I fear that I do.

 
dr.bob
1332554.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:02 am Reply with quote

A further development of this story has shown that, as well as being a fucking useless Brexit secretary, Dominic Raaaab is now proving himself to be a fucking useless foreign secretary.

Yesterday he had a 30 minute meeting with the grieving family. After the meeting, they said they were "frustrated" and "disgusted" at what they saw as a "publicity stunt" on behalf of the UK government to try and pretend that they were doing something useful when, in reality, the family were left no further forward than before the meeting.

Their lawyer said he felt let down since he had made it clear that he wasn't prepared to drag the poor family all the way to London, with all the media attention that would involve, "just for platitudes and pats on the head."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-49986700

 
Alexander Howard
1332581.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 5:20 am Reply with quote

If the lady in question has diplomatic immunity, which is quite possible as it is a net cast very wide indeed, then nothing can be done - no trial, no extradition, not by a public prosecution nor a private one, unless the United States were to waive immunity. Immunity is not a private right but in the hands of the sending state.

Had it been another car on the road, we would not be hearing all this. A cussed thing about a motorcycle is that while a good rider may handle it with perfect safety on a clear road, sudden braking or swerving turns the bike into an uncontrollable monster, with nothing between the rider and what he is about to hit. If a car driver pulls out stupidly, the motorcyclist may have nowhere to go. I once read the report of such an accident, where the rider just went straight through the car (but it was a 2CV, so he could literally do that).

 
Jenny
1332637.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:47 am Reply with quote

Her husband was employed by the NSA so not a diplomat.

Moreover the report was that she turned into the wrong side of the road when turning left, and that I can believe, based on my own experience of doing exactly the same on both sides of the Atlantic, though only when roads were actually empty, fortunately.

 
cornixt
1332646.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 10:05 am Reply with quote

Every now and then I panic that I don't know what side of the road I should be on. So far I have always been on the correct side, but I do wonder if I will get it wrong on a trip back to the UK one day.

 
Jenny
1332687.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:21 am Reply with quote

I have done this a few times, on both sides of the Atlantic, but only when a) I've recently visited or come from the other side, and b) the road is empty so there are no visual cues.

The worst one I did was to turn left British-style into an American road that was empty at the place I turned, to find myself face to face with three lanes of cars held up at a traffic light. I've never executed a U turn so fast in my life.

 
barbados
1332697.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:43 am Reply with quote

I've certainly done it turning right on the other side of the pond. It is so easy to do, it is something that happens without thinking.

As for the worst thing - turned right into a road in Montreal, making sure I stayed to the correct side of the road, only to discover I had turned down a one way street. It's ok though, they were basically French so were used to it.

 
suze
1332698.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:44 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Her husband was employed by the NSA so not a diplomat.


And that is claimed to be part of the reason why the US is even keener than usual not to send Mrs Sacoolas back to Britain. When all is said and done, Mr Sacoolas is/was a spy, and the Americans really don't want his work talked about in an open courtroom.

A sneaky press photographer managed to take a picture of Mr Trump's notes as he gave a press briefing earlier today, and they contained the statement "(If raised) Note, as Secretary Pompeo told Foreign Secretary Raab, that the spouse of the US government employee will not return to the United Kingdom".

That would seem to be more or less that. Mr Johnson's people claim that he has "urged the US president to reconsider", but he has done no such thing and he won't. His people will have been told that Mr Trump doesn't want to hear it.

OK, so there is the nuclear option of recalling the British ambassador from Washington. Jeremy Corbyn has advocated that in not quite so many words, but it seems improbable that Mr Johnson will choose to go there.

I am being told by the good husband that The Sun did once advocate unilateral de-recognition of all foreign diplomats in the UK. This was more than 30 years ago, because Andy is sure he was still llviing with his parents when it happened, and came about after an American diplomat skipped the country while under suspicion of rape. But it didn't happen then, and probably won't happen now.


Now then, let us suppose that the boot were on the other foot. Let us imagine that a British person was suspected of a crime in the US, but had claimed diplomatic status and left the US.

Since the US doesn't really have national media, that probably wouldn't become as big a story in the US as the case of Mrs Sacoolas has become here. But just suppose that it did, that the British person was being burned in effigy outside churches across the US, and so on.

Under the current President, can we absolutely rule out that the US would attempt an extraordinary rendition?

 
PDR
1332705.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:52 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I have done this a few times, on both sides of the Atlantic, but only when a) I've recently visited or come from the other side, and b) the road is empty so there are no visual cues.

The worst one I did was to turn left British-style into an American road that was empty at the place I turned, to find myself face to face with three lanes of cars held up at a traffic light. I've never executed a U turn so fast in my life.


As an aside - would this be a good opportunity to mention the Savoy Hotel, whose main entrance used to be claimed as the only drive-on-the-right public road in the UK, and whose dimensions were the determining factor in the specification of the London Taxi (so they could U-turn at the end)?

PDR

 
suze
1332706.  Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:52 am Reply with quote

barbados wrote:
I've certainly done it turning right on the other side of the pond. It is so easy to do, it is something that happens without thinking.

As for the worst thing - turned right into a road in Montreal, making sure I stayed to the correct side of the road, only to discover I had turned down a one way street. It's ok though, they were basically French so were used to it.


Donald Trump says that he has never accidentally driven on the wrong side of the road in Britain. Actually, neither have I - although I have to admit that I have done it in Spain. (There was no one much about and so there were no consequences. But I made Andy drive for the rest of the day.)

barbados, you didn't make it even worse by turning right on a red light, did you? As you'll be aware, that is allowed in most of North America - but it's not allowed in New York City and it's not allowed in Montréal, and the French-speaking police find it rather amusing to write people up for it.

 

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