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Fri, 14 August 2020

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Harry Dunn death: Dominic Raab closes legal 'anomaly' which allowed death suspect Anne Sacoolas to flee UK

Harry Dunn death: Dominic Raab closes legal 'anomaly' which allowed death suspect Anne Sacoolas to flee UK

Dominic Raab confirmed the US had agreed to the legal changes (PA)

2 min read

A legal "anomaly" which allowed the suspect in the death of Harry Dunn to flee the UK has been closed, Dominic Raab has confirmed.

The Foreign Secretary said American authorities had agreed to end a legal loophole which provided protection from prosecution for the families of US personnel working at RAF Croughton.

Mr Raab had launched a review of the rules after 19-year old Harry was killed last August after his motorbike was struck by a car driven by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat, who then left the country under the guise of legal immunity, sparking an international row.

The announcement, which follows face-to-face meetings between the Cabinet minister and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, means the families of staff stationed at the base will face criminal prosecution in any future incident.

In a written statement, Mr Raab said: "First and foremost, the US waiver of immunity from criminal juristiction is now expressly extended to the family members of US staff at the Croughton Annex, thus ending the anomaly in the previous arrangements and permitting the criminal prosecution of the family members of those staff, should these tragic circumstances ever arise again."

The new rules, which have been extended to all embassy personnel, will also remove wider protections from arrest and detention.

Mr Raab said while the changes would not "bring Harry back", he hoped the news would bring "some small measure of comfort" to his family.

Meanwhile, the secretary of state said a separate agreement had been reached to improve road safety around the base, including mandatory training for US staff and extra signage to remind them to drive on the left-hand side of the road.

The announcement comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised the case with Mr Pompeo during his London visit, saying there was a "strong feeling" among the British public that justice had not been done for Harry Dunn.

Requests to extradite Ms Sacoolas back to the UK were refused by US officials in January, with a spokesperson for the State Department saying the decision was "final".

But a Number 10 spokesperson said Mr Johnson had used the meeting to "reiterate the need for justice to be done for Harry Dunn and his family."

Charlotte Charles, the mother of Harry Dunn, said ahead of the meeting that she felt her family had been "shoved under the carpet" by the Government.

Speaking outside Downing Street, she said: "When you lose someone under circumstances like that in this country you expect to be looked after by your own government.

"We've not been looked after, we’ve been shoved under the carpet."

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