HomeEntertainmentUS advises Harry Dunn's killer Anne Sacoolas NOT to attend Old Bailey...

US advises Harry Dunn’s killer Anne Sacoolas NOT to attend Old Bailey sentencing in person

By Josh Payne, PA Chief Reporter

US citizen Anne Sacoolas has pleaded guilty to causing the death of Harry Dunn by careless driving during virtual proceedings at the Old Bailey.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how diplomatic immunity affected the 19-year-old’s case, and why Sacoolas was able to appear in court via video-link from her home country.

– What is diplomatic immunity?

Diplomatic immunity is a legal exemption from certain laws granted to diplomats by the state in which they are working.

It ensures they will not be liable to be prosecuted under the host country’s laws. It is governed by an international treaty called the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and UK legislation called the Diplomatic Privileges Act.

– Why was diplomatic immunity asserted on Anne Sacoolas’s behalf?

The US Government and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) position is that dependants (such as spouses or children) of US administrative and technical staff at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire had diplomatic immunity at the time of the crash.

The Dunn family have disputed this but the High Court ruled Sacoolas was entitled to immunity in November 2020.

– Why could diplomatic immunity be asserted for Sacoolas but not her husband?

The Vienna Convention states waivers of immunity must always be ‘express’.

In an agreement drawn up for RAF Croughton in 1994-95 between the UK and the US, the immunity enjoyed by administrative and technical staff would be waived for actions outside the course of their duties.

Dependants were not mentioned in the agreements.

– Why was Sacoolas not extradited?

An extradition request, submitted by the Home Office in January 2020, was rejected by the US State Department – who described it as ‘highly inappropriate’.

President Joe Biden’s administration said the decision not to extradite Sacoolas was ‘final’.

– Why has Sacoolas appeared in a UK court virtually?

The court’s ability to conduct remote proceedings derives from coronavirus legislation, which allows even the most important court sessions, such as plea and sentence hearings, to be done virtually.

– Is Sacoolas able to walk away from proceedings?

The former head of extradition at the CPS, Nick Vamos, said Sacoolas ‘could at any point in these proceedings have simply turned her video-link off and walked away, and there’s nothing the court could have done about it’.

– Does the conclusion of criminal proceedings mean the end of the Dunn family’s campaign?

Although the main objectives of their campaign have been achieved, Harry’s parents are still to keen for there to be an inquest into their son’s death and a parliamentary inquiry.




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