PM: Chances of US extraditing Harry Dunn suspect to UK 'very low'

14 January 2020, 09:28 | Updated: 14 January 2020, 10:31

Harry Dunn was killed in a crash in August 2019
Harry Dunn was killed in a crash in August 2019. Picture: PA
Sylvia De Luca

By Sylvia De Luca

Boris Johnson has acknowledged that the chances of the US sending Anne Sacoolas to the UK to face justice over the death of Harry Dunn is "very low."

The US State Department has said the extradition request for the suspect charged in connection with the death of the teenage motorcyclist is highly inappropriate.

The suspect, the wife of a US intelligence official, claimed diplomatic immunity after the collision and was able to return to her home country, sparking an international controversy.

The Prime Minister said in an interview: "I think that it's right that we made the appeal for extradition."

But he added: "I think the chances of America actually responding by sending Anne Sacoolas to this country are very low. That's not what they do."

The US Department for State said its position had always been that Ms Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity, stating that a request to extradite somebody with immunity would be an abuse.

A spokesman said the United States has a strong law enforcement relationship with the UK and, in particular, a strong track record of close cooperation on extradition matters.

But they added that under the circumstances of this case, they strongly believe that an extradition request would be highly inappropriate.

The spokesman said they will continue to engage with the UK government and said they have been transparent on all matters, both legal and diplomatic.

A vehicle with diplomatic plates passes a Please Drive on Left sign and road marking that have been placed on the B4031 outside RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, where Harry Dunn, 19, died.
A vehicle with diplomatic plates passes a Please Drive on Left sign and road marking that have been placed on the B4031 outside RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, where Harry Dunn, 19, died. Picture: PA

But the Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger said: "I do not know what is in the Prime Minister's mind in making those comments because the parents and I have not yet had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him but we expect to do so within the next few days.

"Certainly, if he is basing those comments on what is currently emanating from Washington he may well be right.

"However, the extradition request has now been delivered and therefore the legal process has commenced - Mr Johnson's officials have been working extremely hard over the last few months to prepare a thorough and diligent case."

Mr Seiger continued: "Harry's family will as always take things one step at a time and will not prejudge the outcome of the process, but as I have stated many times publicly, my analysis of the prospects of success are diametrically opposed to Mr Johnson's given my detailed discussions with officials both in London and Washington.

"Should the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ultimately make the political decision not to return her, that will not be the end of the matter.

"But the fact that they are prejudging the request without having even read it shows where we are with the current administration in terms of their approach to upholding the rule of law and right versus wrong."

Commenting on what would happen if an extradition request was blocked, Mr Seiger added: "If that is what transpires, the campaign will swing into action deploying a number of measures, including blockading the bases, and we will sit down with British officials to discuss what they will do, not only on Harry's family's behalf, but the whole nation's to ensure that justice is done and that no one ever suffers the same fate as Harry."

Harry Dunn's parents at a press conference in New York.
Harry Dunn's parents at a press conference in New York. Picture: PA

Harry Dunn's parents have been fighting for justice for their son since the fatal crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019.

They claimed they had been repeatedly "lied to" by officials until Ms Sacoolas was charged in December.

A Northamptonshire Chief Constable wrote to the family in December to apologise for a "breakdown" in communications.

The 19-year-old's parents went to the USA where Harry Dunn's mother said the American woman suspected of causing her son's death, should be brought back to the UK to face justice, saying: "It's the right thing to to do. It's the humane thing to do."

The family has also had meetings with Home Secretary Priti Patel, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and their local MP, business secretary Andrea Leadsom.

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