Dominic Raab urged to 'explain himself' over Harry Dunn suspect 'intelligence work'

4 February 2021, 17:41 | Updated: 4 February 2021, 18:04

Harry Dunn was killed in a crash outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019
Harry Dunn was killed in a crash outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Foreign Secretary has been urged to "explain himself" after a court heard Harry Dunn's alleged killer worked for a US intelligence agency at the time of the fatal road crash.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy asked if Dominic Raab had "simply accepted the US Embassy's account" or whether he "misled the House" over Anne Sacoolas's role with the US State Department.

Alexandria district court in Virginia was told of the suspect's employment on Wednesday - and that Sacoolas "fled" the UK due to "issues of security".

On Thursday, the UK Government insisted it was unaware Sacoolas was employed by a US intelligence agency, saying: "She was notified to the UK Government by the US as a spouse with no official role."

But Ms Nandy said "Harry's family deserve the truth" and said he must speak to MPs about the case on Friday.

Dominic Raab has been asked to "explain himself"
Dominic Raab has been asked to "explain himself". Picture: PA

The 19-year-old was killed in a crash outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019.

Sacoolas, 43, was able to return to her home country after the US government asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving but an extradition request was rejected by the State Department in January last year.

On Thursday, Ms Nandy said: "As an employee at RAF Croughton Anne Sacoolas would not have been entitled to immunity from prosecution.

"Dominic Raab told MPs that she was entitled to protection as the spouse of an employee, but new information provided by her lawyer clearly indicates that she wasn't.

"Did the Foreign Secretary simply accept the US Embassy's account without asking any of the right questions on behalf of a UK citizen, or has he misled the House?

"After almost 18 months of fighting for justice for their son, Harry's family deserve the truth. Dominic Raab must come before MPs tomorrow and explain himself."

Lisa Nandy said the Dunn family "deserve the truth"
Lisa Nandy said the Dunn family "deserve the truth". Picture: PA

Also addressing the latest developments, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told reporters "we don't comment on intelligence matters".

He added: "I would emphasise that our position on this case remains unchanged, we have consistently called for her diplomatic immunity to be waived and believe that the US refusal to extradite her amounts to a denial of justice."

On Thursday, the mother of Harry Dunn told LBC said she is "in shock" after hearing the news.

Charlotte Charles told LBC: “Hearing that last night, I pretty much zoned out of the rest of the court case last night, I was reeling, in shock... not sure if I’ve got over that shock yet I’m still trying to sink it in.

“We’ve always got the hope there but when we have seemingly got another breakthrough then we’re going to shout about that,” she said.

“We’ve got to get this job done, I’ve got to get my promise completed.”

She added: “Enough’s enough now, I want justice for my son, it’s time that she comes back, it’s time that she faces the UK justice system and gets this over and done with because it’s just ridiculous now.”

The revelations about Sacoolas's employment came out during an application to dismiss a civil claim for damages against her made by the Dunn family on Wednesday.

The suspect's lawyer, John McGavin, told the court he could not "completely candidly" explain why the Sacoolas family left the UK, adding: "I know the answer, but I cannot disclose it."

The court heard one of the reasons she had not returned to the UK was a "fear" that because of the "media attention, she would not have a fair trial".

Mr McGavin said she was "currently apologetic" and has "accepted responsibility for the accident".

The claim from Sacoolas's lawyer about her employment at the time of the crash has raised questions about the diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf.

Under agreements at RAF Croughton dating back to 1995, anyone working at the base from the US as part of "administrative and technical staff" would have immunity pre-waived, meaning they would not be immune from criminal jurisdiction.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "The UK High Court has found that Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity while in the country under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations."

US State Department spokesman Ned Price has reiterated that Harry Dunn's alleged killer Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity because she was "the spouse of an accredited staff member of the US Embassy office".

He said: "We again offer our sincere condolences and sympathy to the Dunn family for the loss of their son.

"This was a tragic accident. Since the tragic accident occurred, the United States has been closely engaged with the UK Government, and we have been transparent about our positions on legal and diplomatic matters concerning this accident.

"At the time the accident occurred, and for the duration of her stay in the UK, the US citizen driver in this case had immunity from criminal jurisdiction.

"As we have said previously, the driver had diplomatic immunity because she was the spouse of an accredited staff member of the US Embassy office.

"We do not have further comment on these judicial proceedings."