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Verdicts & Settlements

Family of British Teen Killed by State Department Employee Reaches Settlement

— September 22, 2021

The family of Harry Dunn says they will continue trying to extradite Anne Sacoolas to the United Kingdom to face criminal charges.

The family of a teenage British motorcyclist has reached a settlement with a U.S. State Department employee who struck and killed him two years ago.

According to The New York Times, a spokesperson for the family of the victim, Harry Dunn, announced the agreement earlier this week.

“It’s a milestone for us that we’ve reached a resolution in the civil case,” spokesman Radd Seiger said. “We can now look forward and focus on the criminal case, which we are very confident is coming soon.”

The driver, Anne Sacoolas, struck and killed Dunn while driving near Croughton, England, in August 2019. Sacoolas, says The New York Times, was driving on the wrong side of the road when she hit the victim.

Sacoolas cooperated with police after the accident, and consented to a breathalyzer test.

However, Sacoolas—whose husband was working as a Central Intelligence Agency at a nearby U.S. Air Force base—was able to claim diplomatic immunity.

“The driver,” said the State Department, “had diplomatic immunity because she was the spouse of an accredited staff member of the U.S. Embassy office.”

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Several days after the accident, Sacoolas was flown out of the United Kingdom on a private plane, sparking a minor diplomatic row with the United States.

After Sacoolas returned home, British prosecutors decided to charge her with causing death by dangerous driving.

The United States, though, refused the Kingdom’s extradition request.

While the Dunn family has since reached a settlement with Sacoolas, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said her office will continue its efforts to extradite Sacoolas.

“[Truss] made it clear that the government’s position is that justice must be done,” Seiger told The New York Times.

Seiger, who had spoken on the phone with truss, also said that the foreign secretary discussed the matter with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday.

Regardless of the United States’ eventual position, British authorities say that America’s refusal to extradite Sacoolas for trial amounts to a denial of justice.

“[Truss] made it clear that the government’s position is that justice must be done,” Seiger added.

The New York Times notes that, after the Sacoolas incident, Britain and the United States jointly decided to close the loop-hole allowing family members of U.S. embassy staff stationed in Croughton to claim diplomatic immunity for crimes committed outside the scope of their official duties. However, these changes are not retroactive and cannot be used against Sacoolas.


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