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UK urges US to return diplomat spouse involved in fatal accident

UK urges US to return diplomat spouse involved in fatal accident

Harry Dunn, 19, died on Aug 27 after his motorbike collided with a car near a Royal Air Force base in Northamptonshire used by the US military as a communications hub. (Photo: Facebook/Justice4Harry)

LONDON: Britain has urged the United States to "reconsider" allowing the wife of an American diplomat to leave the country after she became a police suspect in a fatal road crash.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he had raised the case directly with the US ambassador Woody Johnson, after American officials reportedly allowed the woman to flee to the US.

"I have called the US ambassador to express the UK's disappointment with their decision, and to urge the embassy to reconsider it," Raab said in a statement.

Harry Dunn, 19, died on Aug 27 after his motorbike collided with a car near a Royal Air Force base in Northamptonshire, which is used by the US military as a communications hub.

His Kawasaki motorbike hit a Volvo SUV travelling in the opposite direction, according to local police, who confirmed that a 42-year-old American woman being treated as a suspect in their investigations had left Britain.

Media reports suggested she had claimed diplomatic immunity.

Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Sarah Johnson said her force had followed usual procedures in the case, including "liaising closely with the suspect".

"(She) engaged fully with us at the time and had previously confirmed to us that she had no plans to leave the country in the near future," Johnson said.

"Due process was also followed in seeking the necessary documentation to allow for the arrest and formal interview of the suspect," she added.

Johnson said the force was now "exploring all opportunities through diplomatic channels" to ensure that the investigation continued.

Britain's Sky News reported that Dunn's family had received a letter from Ambassador Johnson expressing "profound sadness" at the death.

Harry Dunn's father, Tim Dunn, told the broadcaster the family were "disgusted" and "appalled" at the suspect's behaviour.

"I'm angry that someone could do this and then get on a plane and go," he said.

"I can't believe she's living with herself."

The US embassy told Sky News that the spouse of a US diplomat assigned to Britain was involved in the accident and had now left the country with her family.

In a statement to AFP, an embassy spokesman said: "Any questions regarding a waiver of the immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive intense attention at senior levels.

"(They) are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry; immunity is rarely waived."

He added: "We express our deepest sympathies and offer condolences to the family of the deceased in this tragic traffic accident."

Source: AFP/aj/ec

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