Wife of US diplomat charged over death of British teenager in road crash
An American diplomat’s wife has been charged over the death of a British teenager who died after a fatal road crash in August.
Anne Sacoolas, who is married to a US diplomat based in the UK, left Britain after initially co-operating with a police investigation into the death of Harry Dunn, a 19-year-old who died near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire when his motorcycle collided with a Volvo car that Ms Sacoolas was driving.
Ms Sacoolas returned to the US claiming diplomatic immunity, as her husband Jonathan worked as an intelligence officer at RAF Croughton.
The likelihood of her returning to the UK to stand trial appears slim. The US state department said it was “disappointed” by the decision to charge Ms Sacoolas and said it feared “it will not bring a resolution closer”.
Dunn’s family have mounted a legal and political battle to compel her to return to the UK to face charges.
In October, prime minister Boris Johnson urged the US to facilitate Ms Sacoolas’s return to the UK to co-operate with the police investigation and the matter was raised by foreign secretary Dominic Raab with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo. The Dunn family also travelled to the US, where they met US president Donald Trump.
On Friday, the Crown Prosecution Service said it was charging Ms Sacoolas, 42, with causing death by dangerous driving following Dunn’s death on August 27.
The CPS was handed a completed file of evidence on November 1 after Northamptonshire police interviewed Ms Sacoolas in the US.
Janine Smith, the chief crown prosecutor, said the director of public prosecutions had met with Dunn’s family to explain the basis of the decision following a review of the evidence.
She said the CPS had started extradition proceedings against Ms Sacoolas to bring her back from the US to stand trial in Britain. She added that the Home Office was responsible for considering the request and deciding whether to formally issue it through diplomatic channels.
Northamptonshire Police said in a statement: “We welcome the charging decision announced today by the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to Anne Sacoolas. However, because criminal proceedings are now active, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”
The UK has an extradition treaty with the US and a number of UK citizens, including those accused of white collar crime, are often extradited to face charges and stand trial in the US.
However, Edward Grange, partner at criminal law firm Corker Binning, said: “The prospect of an extradition request succeeding remains to be seen, particularly in light of comment from the Trump Administration that it is very reluctant to allow its citizens to be tried abroad”.