An American woman, the wife of a US diplomat, is accused of fleeing the United Kingdom using diplomatic immunity after she was allegedly involved in a fatal road accident killing of a British teenager. The accident reportedly took place near RAF Croughton, a British military base near Oxford, on August 27, when a car collided with 19-year-old Harry Dunn’s bike. The diplomat’s wife, identified as 42-year-old Anne Sacoolas, is the prime suspect in the case and the police were preparing to arrest and interrogate the woman.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on October 7, urged the diplomat’s wife to return to the UK to face investigation adding that he will raise the issue with the White House if needed. Johnson was not in favour of using “the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose”. Though the U.S. Embassy offered its ‘deepest sympathies’, they were not on the same page with Boris Johnson.
“Any questions regarding a waiver of the immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive intense attention at senior levels and are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry,” a U.S. Embassy spokesperson had said.
He said that immunity is rarely waived signalling their stance.
According to the Northamptonshire police, they are using appropriate diplomatic channels to ensure that the investigation continues. Meanwhile, Dunn’s parents, in an interview with a British news channel, urged US President Donald Trump to let the woman get back to the UK and see what she has done to the family. The devastated parents said that the family is in ruin.
As per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, family members of diplomats living in other countries enjoy immunity from arrest in most of the cases. Under Article 32 of the Vienna convention, the immunity can be waived by the sending state and it must always be express. “Waiver of immunity from jurisdiction in respect of civil or administrative proceedings shall not be held to imply the waiver of immunity in respect of the execution of the judgement, for which a separate waiver shall be necessary,” reads Article 36(4).