Foreign Office officials were not told that Anne Sacoolas was a spy in notes sent by the US Embassy in the wake of Harry Dunn’s death, court documents have today revealed.
Officials instead labelled the US intelligence worker as a spouse of an embassy employee when they sent the Foreign Office a note asserting her diplomatic immunity, the court was told.
Sacoolas was made a suspect in the death of Mr Dunn, 19, who was killed in a road crash outside US military base RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, in August 2019.
The 43-year-old later flew back to America while claiming diplomatic immunity.
After she had returned to America, Northamptonshire Police charged Sacoolas with causing death by dangerous driving. However the US has rejected the UK’s extradition request.
Now an American court, which is assessing a civil claim by Mr Dunn’s family against Sacoolas, has heard how the UK’s Foreign Office were not told about her intelligence role in official notes from the US Embassy.
The court in Virginia heard that one note, penned by the US Embassy three days after the crash, only labelled Sacoolas as ‘the spouse of a member of administrative and technical staff of the Embassy’.
Foreign Office chiefs were not told that Anne Sacoolas was a spy in officials notes sent by the US Embassy in the wake of Harry Dunn’s (pictured) death, court documents have revealed
Police made Sacoolas (pictured) a suspect in the death of Mr Dunn, 19, who was killed in a road crash outside US military base RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, in August 2019
The court heard that the intelligence worker was told she was a suspect in the teenager’s death following a crash outside RAF Croughton (pictured) in Northamptonshire in August 2019
It comes after the court was earlier told that both Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan worked for the US State Department at the time of the crash and ‘fled’ the UK due to ‘issues of security’.
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.
The court heard that the intelligence worker was told she was a suspect in Mr Dunn’s death by Northamptonshire Police on August 28 – the day after the fatal crash.
The US Embassy’s first note was then sent to the Foreign Office on August 30.
The letter shows how diplomatic immunity was asserted on behalf of Sacoolas – eventually leading to her departure 16 days later on September 15.
Sacoolas was eventually charged with causing Mr Dunn’s death by dangerous driving.
But an extradition request, submitted by the Home Office, was rejected by the US State Department in January last year.
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.
The US Embassy referenced the loophole in its first note to the FCDO – telling UK officials ‘waivers of immunity must always be express’ in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
FCDO officials were requested in the Embassy’s note ‘to remind appropriate authorities’ not to arrest or detain Sacoolas.
The US formally declined the UK Government’s request for a waiver of immunity on September 13, two days before the suspect’s departure.
The FCDO responded to the waiver refusal by expressing its ‘grave disappointment’ at the US’s decision on September 24 – nine days after Sacoolas had returned home.
The latest revelations have led the family to raise questions about Sacoolas’s immunity – including: ‘When did the British Government become aware of her real employment status?’
Their spokesman Radd Seiger said: ‘We are all still catching our breath after this astonishing revelation, having believed all this time that Mrs Sacoolas was just a dependant.
Mr Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said she and Tim Dunn, Harry’s father, (pictured together) wanted to sit down with Sacoolas once the prosecution was over to ‘rebuild our shattered lives’
‘The starting point of course is that this is not what diplomatic immunity was intended to be used for.
‘But this note reveals that rather than asking itself what the right thing to do was following the tragedy, the US State Department set about looking for a way to do the wrong thing.’
Mr Seiger continued: ‘This note now raises some serious questions.
‘Why were the US authorities less than candid with the FCO about Mrs Sacoolas’ real role whilst in the UK?
‘When did the British Government become aware of her real employment status?
‘Did Dominic Raab know on 28 January 2020 when Harry’s father Tim asked him point blank whether Mrs Sacoolas was working as an intelligence officer at the time of the crash, to which the response was ‘She used to work for the State Department’.’
In a hearing in which the alleged killer attempted to dismiss the Dunn family’s civil claim, her barrister 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.’
US State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated their position again on Sunday, saying: ‘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.’
A US official said they do not comment on diplomatic correspondence, while the FCDO has been approached for comment.