The family of Harry Don, a 19-year-old motorcyclist killed outside a U.S. airport, has filed a lawsuit seeking a ruling that the State Department driver acted illegally in granting diplomatic immunity to an American driver.
On August 2 last year, outside the RAF Croton in Northamptonshire, Ann Sacolas was killed when she was hit by a car driven on the side of the road.
Saculus, whose husband Jonathan worked as a technical assistant at the Saculus base, two weeks later accepted a U.S. claim from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) that Saculus had immunity based on the basis on which her husband worked. RAF Croton, CIA listening post in Northamptonshire.
Subsequent attempts by the UK government to extradite him have been rejected by the US State Department.
The claim for immunity has turned into a secret agreement signed between the United Kingdom and the United States that gives employees working at RAF Croats not only immunity but also for activities related to their work. It was silent about the resistance of the workers ’families.
The State Department and the U.S. State Department described the silence in the agreement as a complete immunity to the family. Lawyers working on behalf of Don’s family have claimed that it is a distorted interpretation of the agreement to assume that members of staff at the U.S. base had less diplomatic immunity than their families.
The FCDO argued that the silence in the secret agreement on the location of the family of the workers was a catastrophe, yet gave the family members immunity. The Secretary of State, Dominic RAB, later announced that the impeachment of U.S. criminal justice has now been explicitly extended to family members of U.S. workers “on the grounds,” ending separation in the previous system.
The Crown Prosecution Service has charged Saculus with dangerous driving and demanded his extradition.
Lawyers for the right family have argued that the FCDO violated human rights law by advising Northamptonshire police that Saculus had immunity and then kept key information from police, including his impending departure from the UK.
Seculus admits he was driving on the wrong side of the road when he hit the right. He was only in the UK for a few weeks at the time of the conflict.
A two-day judicial review of the remote video link is before Lord Justice Flux and Justice Saini.
Representing the family, Jeffrey Robertson QC said: “Since family members are not members of this mission and have no responsibilities, Ann Seculus has never been entitled to any by-laws or passive impunity from criminal jurisdiction.”
He added that it would be “unreasonable” for family members to receive “greater privileges and immunity” than RAF Croton employees “from whom their immunity flows”.
In a written submission, FCDO Barrister Sir James Eddie QC said: “As a matter of international and domestic law, Mrs. Saculus automatically received diplomatic immunity as the husband of a member of the administrative and technical staff of the U.S. Mission.”
He argued to the FCDO that “the police did not explicitly obstruct the investigation”, adding: “On the contrary, the Secretary of State tried to assist the police in the investigation, including requesting the acquittal of Mrs. Saculus.”
Sir James told the court that the United States had explicitly waived immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of “employees” or “staff members” in the United Kingdom, but that “at the moment the immunity of such a person’s family cannot be waived.” Robertson, however, argued that the FCDO “took the power to resolve the immunity question and that the decision of the US embassy was final and illegal because of the immunity of Ann Saculus”.
He said in a written statement that the decision “prevented the police from making further effective progress in the investigation of Harry’s death and the possible trial against Ann Saculus”.
Robertson argued to the FCDO that “the Sacculus family has explicitly agreed to leave the UK”, citing a message sent to a US embassy official on September 14, 2019, the day before Saqulus and his family left the UK.
The message read: “I don’t think it has been decided yet [immunity], We don’t have much mileage to tell the family to stay here.
“Obviously we don’t approve of their departure but I think you’ll be able to keep them on the next flight.”
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