Anne Sacoolas - US diplomat’s wife in Northampton crash

This is the most horrendous story. American diplomat’s wife Anne Sacoolas drove 400 yards on the wrong side of the road and killed a 19 year old boy on his motorbike. Then fled to US claiming diplomatic immunity. What a stupid cow. 

Does anyone think there’s any chance of the US sending her back here to face justice? I so hope so but I fear not. 

I’m not sure there’s all that much justice to face. She obviously got confused driving on the other side of the road from the US - something which happens all the time - and she (and more to the point the motorcyclist) was unlucky that an accident ensued.

The most they’d get her for is leaving the scene of an accident. Now, if she’d been out and about murdering people in cold blood I’d expect the US State Department to waive immunity, but for something like this Id expect them to say - it’s just a  road traffic matter - if we waive immunity for this then we’ll end up waiving it for anything and that defeats the object of the international agreements on immunity entirely. If I was advising on policy at State I think I’d advise against waiver here. I don’t expect they will waive, unless Trump decides it’s the kind of big gesture he wants to make this week.

I don’t really think it is any more horrendous than any other fatal road accident really, it just has a bit of international law on the side.

Would it not be considered causing death by dangerous driving?

the way he/she drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous;[2] or

I'd say driving on the wrong side of the road would tick this box.

She was driving on the wrong side of the road - thick American cow. 

She’d face charges of causing death by dangerous driving. 

I've had people on the wrong side of the road who were done with due care, rather than dangerous. 

doubt it, but even if so it would be at the lesser end with no aggravating factors

It’s not really something I’d consider a pressing case for justice - it was clearly an accident without malice - her getting a six month suspended sentence isn’t going to bring the kid back - I wouldn’t prejudice long held diplomatic principles for it and I don’t expect the Americans will. TBH i wouldn’t even pursue it particularly hard if I were at the home office - I’d send a polite letter then probably leave it.

her getting a six month suspended sentence isn’t going to bring the kid back 

You could say that about any death via RTA 

Shooty - not where they had killed someone surely? 

and tbh I probably would; a lot of time is wasted prosecuting accidents that cannot be prevented or deterred and are not really fruitful grounds for criminal justice.

There is an added policy dimension here. Ideally from a justice point of view they’d return her if that is what the rule of British law demands. But I don’t know if they will and would understand if they didn’t.

How relevant is the whole diplomatic immunity thing now?

For the most part the US simply doesn't extradite its citizens - we get like 1 a year or something.  Diplomat (/spy)'s wife they're just not going to send her back are they?

It’s not purely a case of extradition, in that, even if she wished to return voluntarily, they would need to waive her immunity.

We should take a tougher, or at least a reciprocal, approach to extraditing our own citizens tbh

Sky news have now released photos of her as well as naming her and publishing details of her husband, Jonathan Sacoolas - a US spy.  She’s also gone into hiding in the US. She’s an utter disgrace. Hope the Americans now bow to pressure and send her back. 

You have to wonder how this would have played out under a legitimate president.

I'm sure Obama would have done a special dance on the Ellen show. 

In fact, Obama is so amazing the kid on the bike probably would have lived.  

RAF Croughton looks a very strange air base on google maps.

There is no discernible runway at all. Just looks like a listening base with massive radars and radio arrays. And two full size baseball pitches.

Obama was not notably fond of the UK and was quite doctrinaire in foreign policy terms. 

More chance of getting a result out of Trump on this one, simply because getting anything out of Trump is just rolling the dice.

If there's no traffic, on a minor road, it's very easy to start off driving

on the left side first thing in the morning ,through force of habit

I regrettably agree with Laz.  Change the system to remove immunity - hell yes! Why the fuck does it exist apart from the whole "cultural attache" wink wink chalk mark on the dead drop le carre bollocks?

Laz what's the cause of your instinct to always defend road traffic offenders?  Is there an underlying cause or just your contrarian nature (it seems to come out more on RTA threads).

For example when you make the statement "it was clearly an accident without malice", what do you base this on?  Particularly as there has been no comment from the offender and she has fled justice?

What AP said

did you or a family member kill or maim someone in similar circs or something?

On the basis they don't even pay for parking tickets, not sure they are going to do anything else here. Would it be a surprise if the US told them to leave to try and avoid attention on the husband? 

You’re right, generally I think it’s not really a good use of the justice system, as accidents can’t really be deterred, and I also tend to feel sorry for people who get prosecuted for mere accidents because they must already have suffered great trauma and I just do not see what is gained by prosecuting them, still less punishing them harshly.

You could apply the same to any form of accident-based criminal liability, and I would, but RTAs are where it crops up most often.

That’s not really the issue here tho. The British law says what it says, so the right thing to do in the context of the case itself would be to return her, at least if she is charged. There is the immunity policy issue however and I can see why the Americans would decide not to return her - it is not the “right” decision but it is probably the realpolitik one and that’s how these decisions get made.

Its pretty obvious there was no malice I think. Can I say that with certainty? No but it seems sufficiently likely from the circumstances that I can say it with confidence.

No I have, touch wood, never been in a car accident myself either - even a minor one.

The way round the immunity policy issue would be for her to voluntarily waive immunity herself and come back of her own accord to face the music. 

What the others said above re Laz’s casual defence of road users who kill others. Driving on the wrong side of the road is half-witted and is not just an easy mistake, getting confused abroad etc. It is stupid beyond belief. 

The US initially turned down the waiver request because they didn’t want the husband identified. But his identity is now in the public domain - Jonathan Sacoolas - so I wonder to what extent the US might think that he’s no longer any good to them as a spy & waive the wife's immunity. Here’s hoping. 

I am not casually defending road users who blah blah all the rest of your drivel. This thread is not about me. Behave.

she can’t voluntarily waive immunity

she could return to speak to police but she could not be charged or prosecuted unless the US diplomatic mission to the UK waives her immunity

She wouldn’t have skipped the country if she hadn’t scoped out the chances of evading charges long term. 

The weirdest thing here is that hank has not turned up as he usually does presenting the same argument apnhb does here (making apnhb axiomatically wrong in the process)

Waive diplomatic immunity - Yvonne Fletcher, Jamal Khassogi, not this.

Although likelihood with state sponsored murder, pfft.

They might have extracted her involuntarily belter.

 

Laz, would that also apply if she was minded to agree to plead guilty in a private prosecution?

Laz - I was just pointing out that driving on the wrong side of the road and killing someone doesn’t really equate to being a blameless accident. Sorry if that was confusing. 

Laz seems to think drunk driving and killing people with a car are trivial issues. 

 

The yanks will protect her and she will never face justice but what a disgusting cowardly piece of shit she is for that. 

 

I did not say she was “blameless” at all. Stop making stupid shit up.

Its pretty obvious there was no malice I think. Can I say that with certainty? No but it seems sufficiently likely from the circumstances that I can say it with confidence.

 

What in the circumstances makes you come to a conclusion on intent?  Seriously, I'm baffled.  We have no explanation or mitigation put forward by the only witness, who has fled the country.  At the least, we have no assurance no substance misuse was involved.  We also have no idea whether she did it on purpose, because she hasn' put forward her version of events.

I sort of get your instinct against penalties being harsh for people who did something by "accident", but here your position just cannot be based on any facts.

I think in the absence of detailed facts it’s fair to assume, for the purposes of commenting on here, that the accident is likely to fit the most common pattern for car accidents, namely that it was a pure accident, without malice. (That’s not the same as “without blame”, a confusion you haven’t made but that several on here have.)

I don’t think substance abuse necessarily constitutes malice tbh. I emphasise “necessarily”.

Thats all I’ve got to say on the point, really

The US embassy has to take its share of the blame here.

TBH expecting the individual diplomat (or wife ) to decide to waive or not is lolsome. The embassy  told the Police that there were no plans for her to return and that she’d remain available ...and then as if by magic the next update was that she had flown to the US and invoked the magic words.

i expect that whoever was liaising with the Septics about this is spitting blood 

I imagine that this is more of an impetus to the “disappointment” currently coming from No10 than the wife heading stateside 

 

‘RAF Croughton looks a very strange air base on google maps.

There is no discernible runway at all. Just looks like a listening base with massive radars and radio arrays. And two full size baseball pitches’

 

planes haven’t flown out of Croughton in over 50 years - it was the comms station for nearby RAF Heyford which did have a big bastard runway but has now been turned into a giant housing estate

RAF Croughton is basically a mahoosive data switchboard and one of the most important US strategic sites in Europe 

Appaz

As a continental European living in the UK, I can absolutely sense the hangover imperialist attitude coming  through in these remarks along the lines of “screw the diplomatic immunity, we want her done for this”. People on the continent do not think like this.

Also I could never understand why the British people affected by crime and members of public generally are so thirsty specifically for REVENGE. For there is no other purpose is getting her back - she left the country, so the public does not need protection, and for the same reason, she does not need to be rehabilitated here.

The typically emotive appeal is to say “think of your loved ones”. Well what if your loved one was behind the wheel? They would be devastated by what they had done already. What purpose is served by prosecuting them? This “eye for an eye” is really primal old testament stuff. 

Either you are a prick Barry or a troll. 

Either way cock off. 

julia_goolia07 Oct 19 11:48

Shooty - not where they had killed someone surely? 

---------------------------------------

Yep. One of them was, admittedly, just prior to causing death by careless driving came in. Sadly, I stopped doing crime at about that point and never had a death by careless.

Compare and contrast two motor fatals I had on at the same time, all those years ago:

1st was a lovely young lady who reached over to get her tissues while driving, went onto wrong side of road, crash, motorcyclist dead. She was distraught. Tried to kill herself. Couldn't stop crying. It destroyed her. Police went for due care, she put her hands up, she never drove again. I don't know if she's still alive.

2nd was a very aggressive late middle aged chap in a sporty car on a windy road. Again, hit someone head on. Denied he was on the wrong side of the road. To be fair, we engaged an expert who opined that our chap WAS on the right side of the road. However, the police hated him. Called him in for interview on saturdays mornings for a few months. Obvs, I had to attend as well. He was not pleasant. He got charged with death by dangerous. Was he concerned about the deceased? No. Every day, I got a long phone call where he railed against the injustice, loudly and swearily. The CPS expert folded on the stand and conceded that our expert was right. However, defendant was SO unlikeable that the Jury convicted him anyway, despite the Judge's direction. Judge was so upset that he certified his own judgment for appeal, didn't send my chap down, and so off to the court of appeal we go. Conviction overturned in minutes.

During all of this, months of it, not a single peep of concern or apparent remorse at the loss of life, even though it wasn't his fault.

Anyway.... there you go. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

It's been over a decade since I did that kind of thing. Possibly things have changed, and I can't recall all the other ones, but I dealt with a goodly number of fatals, and only ever had the one death by dangerous. All the others were due care, in the end.

Also: the day before I was due to go on paternity leave for the birth of my son (so, over a decade ago).

"can you get to X police station ASAP? Young girl has been run over by a refuse lorry."

There are some things you never, ever want to repeat in your life.

That was one.

Charge: Due care.

I don't see that accidentally killing someone whilst driving a car is different in principle from accidentally killing someone with a (legally owned) gun.  They are both potentially dangerous to others and appropriate care should be taken when using them. Causing death by dangerous driving should be a more serious offence than it currently is imo. 

I think in the absence of detailed facts it’s fair to assume, for the purposes of commenting on here, that the accident is likely to fit the most common pattern for car accidents, namely that it was a pure accident, without malice. 

 

So you've got from it being "obvious" there was no malice, to it being a fair assumption for the purposes of an assertion on ROF, but both without any evidence except that's how most car accidents work.

Except you don't apply that lack of logic to other situations you comment on on ROF, which is why I asked if there was an underlying reason.  Is there?

 

It’s opportune that we should have had this discussion today, because I was almost just killed on a pedestrian crossing by a Madrid taxi driver who went straight through the stop sign while the green man was lit. Missed me by about three feet at probably 40mph.

I wouldn’t have wanted him harshly punished had he killed me. Poor guy probably had three phones ringing simultaneously, a lot going on.

I liked Shooty’s tales above.

Maybe the reason the male driver was so angry was that he was being dragged through the court system at ruinous cost to his life, for something that he didn’t actually do? Just a thought. Whereas the young lady was contrite and distraught because, you know; she did it?

If he'd killed you you wouldn't have been able to give an opinion on punishment.

Although if your ginger geordie ma and pa had appeared on telly mourning the loss of their budding QC / Cycling Olympian / Labour frontbencher and wanting harsh punishment for hit-and-run Jose, I'm sure the people of ROF would band together to make sure everyone knew your thoughts on punishment.

I gather it is, quite literally, you who is ginger. Or rather, was.

Au contraire.  I have now grown back my hair from skinhead to prove my son that I was not, in fact, bald.  Blonde as Boris Johnson.  

while ironically I’ve gone no.2 all over for a change

I'm sure it suits you.  Put a white vest on and you'd be Bruce Willis in Die Hard.

Am I the only one then who when driving in a foreign country is constantly thinking about which side of the road I'm meant to be on?

it's a big problem in the highlands - americans and germans are the worst they just don't consider it 

we should expel a couple of yank diplomats - Corbyn would

no

it is an often committed innocent mistake 

@  a perfectly normal human being 07 Oct 19 18:13

"because I was almost just killed on a pedestrian crossing by a Madrid taxi driver"

That light was green for pedestrians? Although driving has improved in leaps and bounds in Spain in recent decades the one that irritates me is a flashing amber light which allows drivers to turn if there is nobody on the crossing or it is relatively clear. Some drivers chance their arm, frankly, even if there are predestrians on the crossing.

I actually prefer not to cross on a pedestrian crossing and cross further up the road. At least if the police are not around. At least that way, I am in relative control of the situation.

In Italy:

Green is for go

Red is a suggestion

Yellow? Hmm. Yellow is for gaiety!

Laz: I am baffled by why you keep pushing this line of innocence re traffic offences.

Its almost as if you're oblivious to negligence ;)

Literally millions drive on the "other side" in the UK and Europe without killing peps.

I have driven in both mainland Europe and the UK for decades and have always looked to know what the traffic laws are if I drive there

If by indifference or negligence you break the law in either country and people die then you are liable..

Good luck with your one man campaign to lower that standard and change the law but until then; she killed someone, she is liable to face the process. If having claimed immunity that means she only faces a civil claim in the states and has to face the heightened shame brought about by making this fuss then so be it.

If it were just an "innocent" accident then she should have trusted the process and none of this would have hit the headlines.

Her husbands career is hobbled BTW so I guess there are those consequences.

yeah he's pretty much limited to Langley desk jobs now

Negligence is innocent, or ought to be for criminal purposes. There oughtn't be "criminal negligence".

There is no possibility whatsoever of them being able to establish a civil cause of action in the states, although if I'm wrong in that then I've certainly no problem with them trying. Civil liability is an entirely different matter. The defence of any such claim would be handled entirely by her motor insurer in any event and it's doubtful she'd even have to give evidence.

Apparently the husband was a "NSA technical officer at the communications interceptions post at “RAF Croughton" - ie, an NSA spook at GCHQ spying on British citizens because the law prevents British citizens from doing that. 

Also there appears to be a credible argument that he didn't have diplomatic immunity at all as he wasn't a diplomat (there may or may not have been a secret bilateral agreement which says that spooks seconded to GCHQ/NSA will be treated like diplomats)

It is correct that true diplomatic immunity only extends to diplomats but it is also true that governments commonly agree to extend it to other categories of persons. I'm pretty sure the British government checked whether he and his family really did qualify, but hey it's Dominic Raab so who knows.

@bananman  07 Oct 19 12:38

" On the basis they don't even pay for parking tickets, not sure they are going to do anything else here. "

I had not heard that one before. I think most countries´ diplomatic stations in the UK pay parking tickets, although as I understand it they are immune from payment although perhaps. Parking tickets are really mostly a civil matter. However, I am aware that the US Embassy refuses to pay the London Congestion charge. Given that the Embassy is in the zone and many of the staff will live in the zone, they must have racked up a fair amount.

I understand the basis for the refusal is the Congestion Charge is the view that it is a form of taxation (since it applies to every private vehicle that enters the zone.) By paying the "tax" the US Embassy is concerned that it would undermine the Embassy´s immunity from taxation generally for its diplomats under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunity. Not so much in the UK, where even if it is a considerable sum, it is chickenfeed in the scheme of things, but in countries worldwide.

@bananman  07 Oct 19 12:38

" On the basis they don't even pay for parking tickets, not sure they are going to do anything else here. "

I had not heard that one before. I think most countries´ diplomatic stations in the UK pay parking tickets, although as I understand it they are immune from payment. Parking tickets are really mostly a civil matter. However, I am aware that the US Embassy refuses to pay the London Congestion charge. Given that the Embassy is in the zone and many of the staff will live in the zone, they must have racked up a fair amount.

I understand the basis for the refusal is the Congestion Charge is the view that it is a form of taxation (since it applies to every private vehicle that enters the zone.) By paying the "tax" the US Embassy is concerned that it would undermine the Embassy´s immunity from taxation generally for its diplomats under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Immunity. Not so much in the UK, where even if it is a considerable sum, it is chickenfeed in the scheme of things, but in countries worldwide.

Laz is correct on this, criminalising stupidity without malice, is well stupid.  It doesn't serve the proper goals of criminal justice - it doesn't deter, it doesn't reform and it doesn't protect the public.   

In this particular case momentarily driving on the wrong side of the road when driving abroad is something many many people have done - being unlucky enough to hit somebody is not a cause to imprison somebody.   It is not recklessness it is just something that can happen to anyone during a momentary lapse.

 

If the shoe were on the other foot the UK would not assert diplomatic immunity and would send the person back.

Also clear from R4  Today Programme this morning that she did not have immunity anyway.

No they wouldn't.

I've been interested in the different approaches in the British media/populace to this issue contrasted with the "witch-hunt" of British soldiers for alleged crimes in NI. On the one hand, there is exasperated pearl-clutching at the thought of a US woman involved in the death of a British citizen being spirited out of the country and claiming immunity from prosecution, whilst at the same time there is a spirited campaign to obtain a statute of limitations or amnesty for British soldiers allegedly involved in the killing of unarmed civilians in NI.

An American claiming immunity- bad

Tommy Atkins claiming immunity- good.

Ray - weren't the killings in NI done in a riot situation? Not same as driving down the road? Seems different. 

Not all, no. Hutchings is being prosecuted for the death of John Pat Cunningham in 1974. He was 27 but had a mental age of 10 and a fear of soldiers. This was in the middle of the countryside. Apparently the soldiers were firing warning shots, and just happened to hit him in the back. Five times. It's funny how those warning shots didn't end up anywhere other than his back.

Also, I'm not sure killing unarmed civilians in a riot situation is any justification. That's the kind of thing the Israelis get hammered for these days.  

Just sticking my oar in again. One of the reasons that US military personnel drive left hand drive American cars on UK roads is that they get a variety of tax breaks as a result of their status. And I am sure that also US dealers provide good finance terms. On the Continent that is probably not an issue.

I have to say that while many thousands of British drivers drive their cars on the Continent every year on holiday, almost without incident, I really think this should be a wake up for the US military. Quite aside from the security implications (Virginia plated car in the UK, who do they work for? Nothing more than that could attract the nasties.) I have never liked the idea of driving right hand cars on left hand systems.

I understand that some lorries negotiating mountain roads in Switzerland drive right hand drive lorries on the roads, because it is better to observe the edge of precarious mountain roads. 

But on UK motorways if I see an EU lorry (typically Polish or Romanian plates as well as others I take the precaution of overtaking left hand wheel EU lorries in the fast lane, a complete empty lane from the lorry. Because it is quite likely he cannot see me in his mirrors.  

Then I shall stick my oar in as well. It is not just the Americans who do this. If you speak to UK military who are or have been based in Germany chances are they were driving a RHD vehicle over there. Yes they still have GB looking plates. Yes they can also get tax free fuel and VAT free cars. Yes accidents involving British drivers do happen.

There has been talk of issuing an Interpol red notice for her which would mean she could face arrest if she left the US.

This seems rather a stretch to me. Can Interpol red notices be issued in respect of people suspected of things they can’t be charged with or prosecuted for?

driving on the wrong side of the road isn't an accident

in this case it's causing death by dangerous driving 

no excuse for escaping prosecution for that

it is actually an accident though isn’t it

even if it is surely one for which the criminal law would hold her liable