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RAF Croughton - Diplomatic Immunity

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RAF Croughton - Diplomatic Immunity

Old 7th Oct 2019, 07:45
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RAF Croughton - Diplomatic Immunity

A very sad event, but should the 'Special Relationship' override justice? NATO or US spy base? Diplomats?

BBC:
​Northamptonshire Chief Constable has written to the US Embassy in London demanding the return of an American diplomat's wife who is a suspect in a fatal crash inquiry.

Harry Dunn, 19, died when his motorbike collided with a car near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on 27 August.

The diplomat's wife, named as Anne Sacoolas, left the UK despite telling police she did not plan to.

​​​​​Taken from Wiki

Quote: In November 2013 Tom Watson MP, was reported as saying that there was: "an urgent need for “public scrutiny” of the activities at RAF Croughton. The US Air Force station is a major hub for American military and clandestine communications". It is reported to have been central to the monitoring of the mobile phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 17:21
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First off the role of RAF Croughton is quite irrelevant to the accident.

It is very sad for the family and really the woman should have stayed to face the consequences but does this tragedy deserve the amount of publicity it's generating not to mention making its way all the way to No.10?

It was after all an accident and a typical mistake made by a foreigner used to driving on the wrong side of the road. Careless driving rather than dangerous?

She should come back of course but if she doesn't want to she's hardly likely to be extradited for a motoring offence.

​​​​​
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 17:44
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It seems very strange that staff at such a base should be 'diplomats'. They will be military or engineering staff, but apparently they are given that status along with their families.
The excuse given this morning for sending the family home was to protect the status of her husband. Which is strange since her name has already been published and her marriage will be be a public record in the US.
No doubt Boris will get this sorted with his bosom buddy Trump. After all, neither of them has anything else on their mind at the moment.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 17:44
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I'm inclined to think that the role of Croughton is key to this. My guess is that the US don't want her role at Croughton to get any publicity in a court case. They may not even want Croughton to be mentioned in the media any more than can be helped (although it's damned hard to miss the place if you're driving past).

It seems likely that she just made an error, pulled out into the road on the wrong side. Easy to do - she'd only been here three weeks. Careless driving really, just with tragic consequences. I've made the same mistake two or three times when driving overseas, always when pulling out into a road. Not sure why, but that seems to be a time when habit just takes over, making it just too damned easy to make a serious mistake. Luckily I never had an accident when I've made this error.

If she'd stayed, then I'd guess this wouldn't have had much media attention. If she pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving she'd have probably just got a fine, maybe a 6 month suspended sentence at worst.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 17:58
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By running and using the Diplomatic Immunity excuse, she has made it worse.

She also may not have been entitled to the immunity too.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 18:12
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She told the police she had no plans to leave, so it looks like the decision was made for her.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 18:24
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I am not sure the diplomatic immunity is relevant either. Assuming that the concern is over her actual role, she will come under the terms of the Visiting Forces Act 1952 as part of their civilian component. In which case, as has happened numerous times in the past with members of the US military, she will have been immediately repatriated to the USA and will have been, or be in the process of being, tried for the offence in a US court - in which case the U.K. will no longer have the right to try and hear the case.

https://api.parliament.uk/historic-h...orces-act-1952
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 19:01
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Let's not forget that a young man has died, apparently through no fault of his own. No doubt his parents are devastated.
I suspect the Special Relationship will continue to be very one-sided. Might be interesting to hear what SASless or West Coast have to say on this issue. Personally I cannot imagine why 'family of' should be granted Diplomatic Immunity, I'm sure someone can explain.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 19:09
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Orac
As you will be aware numerous US personnel have had incidents like this on overseas postings world wide, and Uncle Sam always gets them home. I can not remember hearing of many trials of said personnel, post their departure, but they may not be well publicised, if they indeed did occur. Sad outcome for all involved though.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 19:25
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IIRC the visiting forces act only applies to serving military or civilians under military employment - specifically people who would be subject to military rather than civilian courts for the category pf offence in question. The story in the press is that this woman is a wife of a serviceman, not a servicewoman or employed civilian in a military organisation. Wives of servicemen are not prosecuted in military courts for motoring offences AFAIK. As such it's unlikely the VFA would apply.

I would remind the assembled defenders of american diplomatic rights that in 1997 the US government applied a lot of pressure on the Georgian government until they waived diplomatic immunity for Gueorgui Makharadze after he caused a five-car pile-up in Washington DC, resulting in the death of a teenage girl. This should be the precedent that results in the USA sending Ms Sacoolas back to the UK to face the consequences of her actions. But I wouldn't hold your breath - this would require a US president who respects the rule of law and a US culture that doesn't see americans as a superiour species who are above the concerns of lesser nations.

America is something of a cultural and moral laughing stock these days, and even reasonable Americans seem to have lost their sense of shame, so expectations are not high.

PDR
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 19:48
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Originally Posted by PDR1 View Post
IIRC the visiting forces act only applies to serving military or civilians under military employment - specifically people who would be subject to military rather than civilian courts for the category pf offence in question. The story in the press is that this woman is a wife of a serviceman, not a servicewoman or employed civilian in a military organisation. Wives of servicemen are not prosecuted in military courts for motoring offences AFAIK. As such it's unlikely the VFA would apply.

I would remind the assembled defenders of american diplomatic rights that in 1997 the US government applied a lot of pressure on the Georgian government until they waived diplomatic immunity for Gueorgui Makharadze after he caused a five-car pile-up in Washington DC, resulting in the death of a teenage girl. This should be the precedent that results in the USA sending Ms Sacoolas back to the UK to face the consequences of her actions. But I wouldn't hold your breath - this would require a US president who respects the rule of law and a US culture that doesn't see americans as a superiour species who are above the concerns of lesser nations.

America is something of a cultural and moral laughing stock these days, and even reasonable Americans seem to have lost their sense of shame, so expectations are not high.

PDR


It would be nice to see this case be a turning point that sees justice be done, by bringing the woman back to answer questions and provide evidence, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it. All we have at the moment is the official view that she is wanted as a possible witness, nothing more. Everything else is speculation, albeit based on reported CCTV coverage.

What reason does the US have for stopping one of it's citizens from giving evidence in a criminal enquiry?
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 20:05
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Originally Posted by Sallyann1234 View Post
She told the police she had no plans to leave, so it looks like the decision was made for her.
OR she could have just told an outright lie as she knew the U.S. would send her home like they have done in other cases as said by Mr Mac?
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 20:17
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Beware Valerie Plame Wilson

Originally Posted by VP959 View Post
What reason does the US have for stopping one of it's citizens from giving evidence in a criminal enquiry?
Was the husband the only diplomat? Questions are starting to be asked.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 22:09
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The US are a law unto themselves, they went after BP over the likes of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster while quietly ignoring the Bopal disaster....... Don't hold your breath.
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Old 7th Oct 2019, 22:09
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In Australia in the late 1970’s(?) a US diplomat, allegedly drunk, ran a red light, killing the driver of the other car

He was on his way back to the USA within 24 hours

From memory there was considerable kerfuffle at the time but the diplomat never returned nor was charged in the US.
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Old 8th Oct 2019, 00:49
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If she had stayed and faced the music it would have been highly unlikely that she would have received a custodial sentence. As others on here have said the error of turning onto the "wrong" side of a road is very common - I have certainly done it myself in rural France, and a few years ago I watched a German lady turn right out of a filling station near here straight into the path of an HGV which wrote her hire car off - she was very lucky to escape with minor injuries. Now the whole thing has escalated because of her decision to cut and run (or maybe someone else's decision). It's one thing for US (and other foreign) diplomats to run up thousands in unpaid parking fines (no doubt our diplomats do the same) but this is an entirely different matter and as things stand it brings shame on the USA.
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Old 8th Oct 2019, 09:06
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Hopefully Donald will use his "Great and unmatched wisdom" in this case.
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Old 8th Oct 2019, 09:17
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Quite a few here have worked in the USA for a time. What do we think would have happened if we'd made a similar error in the US, with similar tragic consequences?

Would we have been quickly spirited back to the UK, or would we have had to face the consequences in a US court?

I was always under the impression that I was subject to US law when working at a base there, and that if I committed an offence then I would have had to face prosecution in the US. I have a feeling that there may even have been a briefing sheet to this effect issued along with all the other stuff the British Embassy in Washington send out.
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Old 8th Oct 2019, 09:23
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A trial in their home country witnessed by UK personnel (law/police) would be the fairest solution. Apparently the dead kid's dad was the caretaker at the school the driver's son attended.

I am reminded of the brave crew of the Prowler that during a hot-dogging flight in the Italian Dolomites, where they effectively murdered a cable car full of innocent people, being rushed back to the USA and were never properly tried for their deeds, only for much lesser charges and dismissed from the US Marine Corps.
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Old 8th Oct 2019, 09:44
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Originally Posted by Bee Rexit View Post
Hopefully Donald will use his "Great and unmatched wisdom" in this case.
Either shouts of USA! USA! USA! USA!

Or social media will stack up against her.
Depends if the Donald is pro or anti NSA CIA this week.
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