The intelligence role of the alleged killer of Harry Dunn was not mentioned in official notes between the US embassy in London and the Foreign Office, it has emerged.
The first note written by officials at the embassy three days after the crash in August 2019 only labelled Anne Sacoolas as “the spouse of a member of administrative and technical staff of the embassy”.
Yet, on Wednesday, it was revealed that she and her husband Jonathan Sacoolas were US State Department staff at the time of the crash and “fled” the UK due to “issues of security”.
This later became significant due to a legal ruling that asserted diplomatic immunity applied because dependants of US embassy staff were entitled to immunity, but employees themselves were not.
Mr Dunn, 19, died as a result of a road crash outside RAF Croughton, a US military base, on 27 August 2019.
Northamptonshire Police told 43-year-old Sacoolas she was a suspect the following day in a meeting which was also attended by an official who was present on behalf of the US embassy and State Department.
The US embassy’s first note, dated 30 August 2019, shows how it asserted diplomatic immunity on behalf of Sacoolas – which led to her departure 16 days later on 15 September.
The Foreign Office (FCDO) and Number 10 have both previously said the foreign secretary and the prime minister were not aware of what had occurred until after the suspect had left the UK.
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 diplomatic immunity did apply at the time of the crash. The FCDO ended this “anomaly” in July last year.
The US embassy, in its first note to the FCDO after the crash, referenced the loophole, when it told UK officials “waivers of immunity must always be express” in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The embassy said FCDO officials should “remind appropriate authorities” not to arrest or detain Sacoolas.
The US formally rejected the UK government’s request for an immunity waiver on 13 September, two days before she left for the US.
The FCDO responded to the waiver refusal on 24 September – nine days after Sacoolas had returned home.
The latest revelations have led Mr Dunn’s family to raise questions about the immunity status.
Among the questions they want answered, is “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.
“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.
“This note now raises some serious questions.”
In a civil court hearing aimed at dismissing the Dunn family’s claim, Sacoolas’ barrister John McGavin told the court he was not able to “completely candidly” say why the Sacoolas family left the UK.
He added: “I know the answer, but I cannot disclose it.”
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in response to the latest revelations: “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.
An FCDO spokeswoman said: “Anne Sacoolas was notified to the UK as a spouse with no official role, and the High Court determined she had diplomatic immunity while in the UK under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”
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