Harry Dunn suspect’s intelligence role had no effect on immunity status – Raab

Josh Payne, PASun, 14 February 2021, 10:50 am

The Foreign Secretary has insisted Harry Dunn’s alleged killer’s role in intelligence had “no effect” on her claim to diplomatic immunity.

Dominic Raab told Sophy Ridge On Sunday on Sky News “we don’t comment on intelligence matters” when asked at what point he and the Prime Minister knew what role Anne Sacoolas had while in the UK.

On February 3, Sacoolas’s own barrister told the Alexandria district court in Virginia the suspect and her husband Jonathan Sacoolas worked for the US State Department at the time of the crash and “fled” the UK due to “issues of security”.

Dominic Raab
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Sacoolas’s intelligence role would have had ‘no effect’ on her immunity claim (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Dunn family’s spokesman Radd Seiger said the family had “heard nothing whatsoever” from Government officials “by way of explanation” – describing the “silence” as “deafening”.

Mr Raab referred to the words of Sacoolas’s own barrister as “speculation” during his interview.

Mr Dunn, 19, was killed in a road crash outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27, 2019.

Sacoolas, 43, had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US State Department and was able to return to her home country.

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

The Foreign Office (FCDO) and Number 10 have both previously said the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister were unaware of the case until after Sacoolas had left the UK.

Asked if the US had failed to tell the UK Government about Sacoolas’s role in intelligence, Mr Raab told Sky News: “We don’t comment on intelligence matters but what I can say categorically is that her status was as the partner or the spouse of an officer of the Embassy.

“That was the way both the US with us approached things, and the way we did.

“The other speculation had no impact and wouldn’t have had any effect on the status that she had in the UK.”

Harry Dunn death
Spokesman Radd Seiger said the family had heard ‘nothing whatsoever’ from Government officials about Sacoolas’s role in intelligence (David Mirzoeff/PA)

The High Court previously ruled Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity at the time of the crash due to a loophole which meant dependants of US Embassy employees were entitled to immunity but the employees themselves were not.

The “anomaly” was closed by the FCDO in July last year.

Questioned on when he found out about Sacoolas’s intelligence role, Mr Raab continued: “We’ve been clear with the family as well about this. Her status was very clear and it was based on her being the wife of an officer of the Embassy up at Croughton.

“That was the basis on which she had immunity. We of course wanted it waived and wanted her to be returned after she left and that remains our position.”

Reacting to Mr Raab’s interview, Mr Seiger told the PA news agency: “It is now 10 days since Anne Sacoolas’s own lawyer revealed that she was working for the intelligence agencies at the time of the crash.

“We have heard nothing whatsoever from officials in London by way of explanation.

“The silence is deafening and the parents are suffering from extreme stress over the issue.”

Mr Seiger continued: “It is not true that Mr Raab does not comment on intelligence matters.

“We asked him this very question when we met with him on January 28 last year when his response was merely that ‘she used to work for the State Department’.

“That statement is at odds with what Mrs Sacoolas’s lawyer said.

“Given the importance of the matter, one might have thought that someone at the Foreign Office would have picked up the phone to us to offer a meeting.

“None of us want to know what Mrs Sacoolas was doing at the time. We presume she was working to keep us safe.

“But it is no good Mr Raab being economical with the truth when face-to-face with the parents in January 2020 and now refusing to answer the very simple question of who knew what and when on national television.”