Jonathan Sacoolas Is Not, and Has Never Been, a Diplomat 432

UPDATE: Since I published this article the mainstream media, including at least Sky News and the Guardian, have started to report that Sacoolas does not have diplomatic immunity. This is a massive reversal in the MSM line, though to date none have published that he works for NSA or explained the NSA/GCHQ relationship. The MSM are all quoting the lawyer Mark Stephens, rather than this blog, as the source of the information. I would gently note that I can so far find no evidence of Stephens pointing out Sacoolas is not on the Diplomatic List until some hours after I broke the story, and that when he gave radio interviews yesterday Stephens was unaware of the fact.

Ultimately however it does not matter that I am not credited; what matters is my lead has in practice been followed and there is now a much stronger point of pressure available to get justice for Harry Dunn.

There is no Jonathan Sacoolas on the official Diplomatic list. Neither Sacoolas nor his wife has any right to claim diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.

Article 31 of the Vienna Convention states that:

A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving state

Article 37 extends this privilege to family members living in his household. A “diplomatic agent” is defined in article 2(d).

The “members of the diplomatic staff” are the members of the staff of the mission having diplomatic rank;

Jonathan Sacoolas does not hold, and has never held, a diplomatic rank. He has never been a member of staff of a diplomatic mission. (All those with diplomatic rank appear in the diplomatic list, see above link. That list also includes some attaches who do not have diplomatic rank (depending on the type of attache), but there is nobody with diplomatic rank not in the list).

Jonathan Sacoolas does not have, and has never had, any entitlement to diplomatic immunity in international law. Sacoolas works as an NSA technical officer at the communications interceptions post at “RAF Croughton”. His role is support to the interception of communications from British citizens. As I explained in Murder in Samarkand, the NSA and GCHQ share all intelligence reports, but each faces legal constraints on mass spying on its own citizens. So the NSA has staff here fronting the spying on British citizens, while GCHQ has staff in the US fronting the spying on US citizens, and the polite fiction is that the results are transmitted back over the Atlantic to the US or UK respectively, before being “shared” with the partner intelligence agency.

None of which has anything to do with diplomacy, and Sacoolas must be the subject of a DSMA notice given that all mainstream media are referring to him constantly as a “diplomat”, when they all know that is not true. The irony is of course that if Sacoolas actually was a real diplomat, the US would very probably have waived the diplomatic immunity of his wife, as the issues around his presence and function would be much less sensitive.

The UK has no Vienna Convention obligation to acknowledge the “immunity” of Sacoolas’ wife, contrary to all reporting to date. What does apparently exist between the UK and US is a secret, bilateral agreement to treat GCHQ and NSA staff as if they had diplomatic immunity. That is not at all the same thing as Vienna Convention protection under international law. I cannot conceive the grief of Harry Dunn’s parents, but I do hope that they are not deceived by the pretence at intervention in this case by Johnson and Raab.

I am not at all convinced, as a matter of law, that the government has the power to grant, by bilateral treaty or otherwise, immunity from criminal prosecution to foreign nationals, plainly outside the provisions of the Vienna Convention. This should be tested by the courts.


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432 thoughts on “Jonathan Sacoolas Is Not, and Has Never Been, a Diplomat

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    • Tom Welsh

      Ah, but they do give you a full rendering of the current government’s propaganda line.

      “No pravda in Izvestia, and no izvestia in Pravda”.

  • Sharp Ears

    RAF Croughton = US Spy base. Same golf balls as as Morwenstow, Menwith Hill, etc.

    Echelon –
    ‘By the end of the 20th century, the system referred to as “ECHELON” had evolved beyond its military and diplomatic origins into “a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications” (mass surveillance and industrial espionage).’

    RIP Harry Dunn, aged 19.

    • Sharp Ears

      ‘According to Sky News, the only diplomats with immunity in the U.K. are typically those stationed in London. But a special arrangement between the U.S. and the U.K. has been in place since 1994 for RAF Croughton.’ That was in John Major’s time. Why that deal?

      • Tom Welsh

        “Why that deal?”

        ‘…European governments accommodated Washington’s agenda. The reason was explained to me several decades ago by my Ph.D. dissertation committee chairman who became Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. I had the opportunity to ask him how Washington managed to have foreign governments act in Washington’s interest rather than in the interest of their own countries. He said, “money.” I said, “you mean foreign aid?” He said, “no, we give the politicians bags full of money. They belong to us. They answer to us.”’

      • N_

        1. There’s obviously a D Notice out.

        2. Even if we were talking about diplomats, it’s not exactly a once-in-50-years event for one of them to cause a fatal car accident in Britain. Why is this case so big?

        3. The date of the crash hasn’t been made public? Why not? There must be a reason why they’re keeping that information quiet. Was the crash reported in local media? Or was a D Notice slapped on it as soon as it happened?

        Might the date possibly have been 5 September, when Benyamin Netanyahu came to Britain at short notice to meet with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper? (I understand he also dropped in on a local Tory figure who has a funny haircut.) Where did Netanyahu meet Esper? Not at “RAF Croughton” by any chance, was it? Which airstrips did the two foreign leaders use?

        4. Tim Dunn, Harry Dunn’s father, worked at the private school attended by the Sacoolases’ children, one of whom was in the back of the car at the time of the crash. Why wasn’t the child in the front passenger seat? Probably because somebody else was – who?

        5. Piers “C***” Morgan has raised the possibility (using paraleipsis) that it wasn’t an accident but murder. Why did he do that?

        6. How sure are we that Anne Sacoolas was even in the car at the time of the crash? And if she was in the car, she wasn’t necessarily driving. She may have done a Chris Huhne – Fiona Onasanya. Where was Jonathan? There may have been one or more other vehicles involved too.

        7. The London Diplomatic List linked to is dated 1 October 2019. (This is just FYI. I doubt Jonathan Sacoolas’s name has ever appeared on this list.)

        8. The Sacoolases had reportedly only been in Britain for 3 weeks.

        9. Charlotte Charles, Harry Dunn’s mother, says the police have CCTV footage showing that Sacoolas pulled out of the base on the wrong side of the road. (Whether there is video of the actual crash is another matter.)

        10. There is no way the police are calling for Sacoolas to come back to Britain except on Foreign Office say-so.

        • N_

          French media have published the date (and it wasn’t 5 September): it was 27 August.

          That article gives other information:

          * the Sacoolases arrived in Britain at the start of August
          * they have 3 children
          * all of their children were enrolled at the private Winchester House school in Brackley (fees £19000 per year), where Tim Dunn, Harry Dunn’s father, works as head of maintenance
          * the whole family flitted the country in September

          Contrary to what I wrote, the crash date was published yesterday in the Sun and elsewhere in the British media, although I still think it was withheld for a long time. Perhaps the British media got the OK to publish it once it had been revealed abroad.

          • Kempe

            The date (and time) of the accident have been known for some time, it’s only within the last 4-5 days that the name of the suspect has been released and it’s become national news. Prior to that it was just another fatal RTA.

    • Tom Welsh

      I am sure we all feel for Harry Dunn, his family and friends.

      But his was just one death. Can we begin to imagine the effect of the three million Iraqi deaths caused by US violence?

      The underlying principle is the same. If you are not American, your death doesn’t matter and you have no legal recourse.

      Actually, that’s also true of 99% of Americans. See (among others), passim.

  • Clive p

    Having been responsible when I was in Whitehall for the 1951 status of forces agreement with the US which is still classified secret because it gives the US more privileges than the rest of NATO there would be no question of immunity from prosecution in this case if it was the wife of a US serviceman. There were many cases of US troops in British jails for rape or murder of a U.K. citizen. Minor offences would be dealt with by the Americans. I agree with Craig this man is not a diplomat under the Vienna convention. This is a shabby deal to protect spies. The British are merely going through the motions to appease the family with no intention of putting anybody on trial.

    • N_

      The British, i.e. British officials, will view the victim and his family as “random chavs”, not as human beings who require to be “appeased”. Whatever the reason is for the press coverage and the involvement of high-level British figures, it isn’t to do with pleasing or calming the family.

      I have been looking through press reports, and so far I have not found a single article that refers to WHEN the crash took place, not even by saying the month or season. Why have editors’ mouths been taped on that?

  • nevermind

    At least Craig is bringing new information to this band- waggoning, much delayed news.

    Maybe this needs a policy change from politicians, whether we have any left willing to do it, is another question.
    I can vaguely remember a case in the 1980/90s, not sure, when a soldier from either Milden hall or Lakenheath fled back to the US, some violent disagreement with a woman, if I can remember rightly, but I can’t find much about it on the new much scrubbed net.

    What did the police do about the death, after asking the Sacoolas whether they had any plans to fly back to the US? where they waiting for it to happen?
    If she would have been formally taken in 3 days after the accident, to give an interview and statement, she would now be a fugitive of justice. Maybe US personnel in crass breach of the law, should be arrested immediately and held, for their own security and for reasons of of evidence of absconding.
    Maybe Judge Arbuthnot, should have made such an order, she seems to have much experience in doing it.

    The difference between Mr. Sacoolas wife and Julian Assange are that she has committed a young man to death, whilst Julian has none but trumped up charges against him. Whilst her hubby was spying on people here, Julian was publishing the war crimes of USUK in Iraq and Afghanistan, both countries in utter shambles after the chaos we helped to create.

  • pete

    I – presumably with many naive others – accepted that Sacoolas was a diplomat because it was reported as such. Imagine my chagrin to find out this was another lie presented as fact, another dismal failure of mainstream media, once again Craig Murray is the truth-teller.

    Luckily we have a statesman in the white house with “great and unmatched wisdom” – his assessment of himself – (see:^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed|twterm^1181232249821388801& ) who we can appeal to in order to right this wrong and return the miscreant to a spell in Belmarsh.

    • Hatuey

      That tweet from Trump was so obviously a ruse intended to shore up the lie that Turkey and the US are at odds with one another. I assume the Turkish government begged him to say something like that to help them domestically.

      In Turkey the alliance with Israel and the US is hated by the majority of people. Most Turks want justice for the Palestinians and want the US to keep its nose out of the region.

      In recognition of that, about 3 years ago, the Turkish government rolled out a propaganda campaign designed to give the impression that Turkey had dumped its alliance with the US and aligned itself more with Russia.

      • Antonym

        I wish “most Turks” would want justice for the Kurds, fellow Muslims too. Or the Yemeni, or Uyghurs etc.

        I wonder if they had “enough justice” in Cyprus themselves? Looks like they are going into Syria again..
        If Israel was allowed only half of what Turkey does – by Western “standards”.

        • Hatuey

          Sorry but I don’t understand the points you’re attempting to make here. I’m sure I’m a bit dim and it’s my fault.

          Your last point on Israel doesn’t make any sense to me since Israel gets away with more than anyone else. Proof of that is Israel itself — the whole country was illegally stolen as I understand it. And Israel continues to expand with illegal murders, occupations, and annexations.

        • Laguerre

          “If Israel was allowed only half of what Turkey does – by Western “standards”.”

          Israel does plenty worse – it carries out slow genocide, fully approved from the West, and runs the United States according to its wishes. The “Warsaw Ghetto” of Gaza is truly the act of barbarians, which you apparently approve of.

      • Herbie

        “In recognition of that, about 3 years ago, the Turkish government rolled out a propaganda campaign designed to give the impression that Turkey had dumped its alliance with the US and aligned itself more with Russia.”

        Turkey is alligning itself with Eurasia.

        The BRI, the world island and so on.

        Russia is simply managing the transition from Atlanticism to Eurasianism.

        That’s where all the growth is, you see.

        Looks like the West is being taken down.

        Diocletian’s Reforms, eh.

    • Tony

      Yes, I did not realise either. A diplomat would be operating out of the US Embassy (or a consulate) and not out of a base.

      The representation made by the government is, as the blog surmises, unlikely to be for anything other than PR purposes.

  • Hatuey

    So, by the sound of things, Mr Sacoolas is a spy and he his job is to spy on us.

    If Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishki were also spying, why couldn’t they simply claim diplomatic immunity? In a recent twist here; “Trump told Theresa May he doubted Russia was behind Skripal poisoning”.

    One of the difficulties ordinary people have when they study statecraft and politics is that they have been programmed to look at the world through a prism of morality and at the highest levels of society there is no morality. This case gives dramatic emphasis to that schism.

    Even so, there’s something rotten about this case and I suspect a lot more to it than we know.

    • Rob Royston

      You’re right when you say that there is no morality at the highest level. They have a track record of always making a bad situation even worse. The courts would have dealt fairly with the American driver, if she was at fault. I know from experience that frequently swapping driving to either side of the road can catch people out especially when entering from or onto unmarked highways. Why don’t they toss a coin for left or right and we all accept that as the way to go.

      • Hatuey

        I think we should be doubting every aspect of this sorry story. When people act suspiciously, there’s often a motive that isn’t obvious.

        If the story of her simply driving on the wrong side of the road is true, she’d surely have cooperated with the investigation, comfortable in the knowledge that she’d have walked away with a few points and a fine. It’s an understandable mistake to make, these things happen, tragic as they are, etc.

        So, why didn’t she? It’s not like by absconding she has cleared herself of guilt or involvement. And the inconvenience she has chosen to go through, moving back to the US with her kids, etc., weighed against the hassle she would have suffered had she stayed and faced up to it, doesn’t provide an obvious case for choosing to leave.

        There’s got to be more to it.

        • Laguerre

          The charge would be “causing death by dangerous driving”. That’s quite serious.

          • Bayard

            “The charge would be “causing death by dangerous driving”. That’s quite serious.”

            I can recall at least one case of a driver being convicted of that and not even losing his licence.

          • Herbie

            It’s “careless driving”, rather than “dangerous driving”, given what’s been reported.

            “Dangerous” requires some intentional recklessness.

        • Godolphin

          While I’m normally suspicious, I believe that this was a simple accident which is being used as a media diversion. Ms Sacoolas admitted to police that she was at fault and Harry Dunn’s parents both accepted her explanation of the accident. It is more likely that the US authorities decided that they would be repatriated without recourse to the Sacoolas’s. They were only here a few weeks; there’s little hassle involved in returning home.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Rob Royston October 8, 2019 at 12:05
        Particularly if one has had a few too many martinis.

  • Walter Cairns

    To those of us who have done some research on cases such as the Soham murders this comes as no surprise. There are no lengths to which this country isn’t prepared to go in order to prostitute itself to American interests.

      • Godolphin

        There’s a suspicion that Ian Huntley was framed and that US Military transiting through Lakenheath back home from Afghanistan, should have been interviewed.

        • Deb O'Nair

          This hardly makes sense since Huntley’s defence was that the girls died accidentally in his home.

          • Godolphin

            That was the prosecution’s proffered defence for Huntley, according to the linked article.

        • Kempe

          Huntley and Carr were arrested in the early hours of 17th August. The girl’s bodies were not found until later the same day.

          Far from being convincing Huntley and Carr’s performance in front of the cameras aroused suspicion long before the victims partially burnt clothing was found in a second search of the school. In particular it was noted that Carr referred to the girls in the past tense early on.

          • Tom Welsh

            Innocent people often behave in ways that, to the inexpert, seem quite obviously guilty.

            Just as it is only the guilty who are sure to have an alibi. Innocent people don’t know they will need one.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “Innocent people often behave in ways that, to the inexpert, seem quite obviously guilty.”

            I don’t want to labour this one too much but any innocent person accused of such heinous crimes would surely protest their innocence until their dying day.

            I do find some aspects of the case odd though, for instance it appears that Huntley forensically cleaned his home and car and admitted to burning the corpses in an attempt to hide forensic evidence yet the clothes that he supposedly removed and attempted to burn separately were discovered in the bin at the school where he was employed.

          • Herbie

            How many serious crimes have been recorded involving US military in UK?

            Is it as bad as Japan, or Germany. Other places.

            Is the UK better at covering it up.

            Or, is there a bit more control over US military detachments to the UK.

            When that Israeli bloke from the embassy was caught on the Al Jazz doc, he made an interesting response to a suggestion of doing something more devious than he was proposing.

            He looked up, smiled, and said that this was not the US.

            I read that as his saying that we can go so far in the UK, but not so far as we can go in the US.

            He was expelled and there were apologies from the Israeli embassy.

            Does that happen in the US.

            I don’t think so.

    • Tom74

      Interesting. I was going to mention Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman before seeing you had already done so.

  • Geoffrey

    Thanks, Craig for the information. Assuming that she is protected by some agreement between the US and UK, how do you think she should properly be described ? Perhaps as an “The wife of an American agent spying on the private communications of British residents and others on behalf of the British government, under an agreement with the U.S. and given immunity from all UK laws in the course of their work and life in the UK” ?

  • Alan Turnbull


    You might be interested to learn that you can view Jonathan Sacoolas’s radio ham licence details at the FCC, which he held between 2005 and 2012. It was due to run until expiry in 2015 but was cancelled in 2012. His radio station ID was KC7MIZ and the licence was held at his home address in Oldfield Drive, Reston, VA and also his previous address in Stanmoor Terrace, Sterling.

    Not many diplomats are into amateur radio are they?

    You can download PDF certificates from that link.


    Alan Turnbull

    • David

      There certainly are a lot of NS.., sorry Radio Hams in Reston – according to the various pond-side ham lists, it was a surprise yesterday when I was reading QRZ.

      Alan, I also have diplomatic immunity, and I’m coincidentally into ham radio, but I have diplomatic immunity only for things that I carry out on behalf of my employer, that my employer has asked me to do.

      Actually, even only then if they actually back me up! but happily so far they have done – including an inquiry (amongst other things) years ago – as to whether I was permitted on security/freedom grounds to post at Craig’s excellent blog – and the answer was “Yes”

      Even more years ago, I *was* nearly arrested by the local police here, following a complicated situation, who had a long think about my status, instead I was added to a trial as a witness/defendant, but eventually the judge specifically exonerated me from all charges, as not guilty, after years and years. I complied with all local laws & sought no special protection.

      Car incidents/other stuff can certainly happen in life, especially if you are newly on-base, does the UKUSA base drive on UK side?, so I suggest that there was a failure in family/staff training by the spooks at HMS Croughton, as incidents are not “accidents” – “accidents” are incidents and they have a cause, and can be prevented. Sloppy.

      If you are used to driving abroad, it is very easy to become disorientated upon leaving a car park in UK, and drift. The spook-farm gate should protect UKUSA staff and locals equally, perhaps they (UKUSA) can build a Harry Dunn memorial roundabout, as a way of defusing the international mockery of his memory. UKUSA has an infinite budget. Spend it on something useful for a change.

        • David

          complicated situation = identity theft, subsequently used for bringing North Africans illegally into Europe.
          Some police officers themselves were arrested as corrupt, shows how complicated it got.

          • Hatuey

            Okay. Thanks. I was being nosey but I can’t apologise for that given the substance of your story…

          • Hatuey

            Btw, if any of the bosses at MI6 hq need a slug of sorts to help fight communists or environmentalists or anything like that, I’d be happy to take their cash. I’d even be prepared to double-cross family members, one or two of which believe in re-nationalising stuff, and at a stretch do unseemly things with animal’s heads.

      • pete

        And when you look at the ham radio fans address on google maps it shows that Reston is just down the road from Dulles Airport and the National Reconnaissance Office (motto Supra Et Ultro), but I am sure this is just a co-incidence and it no way related to the people involved.

        • Godolphin

          Pete, they live in a Washington DC suburb, less than 5 miles from the Beltway. There’s a lot more locations to consider…

      • mark golding

        [He] was of course intercepting encrypted traffic (RATT) from Syria encoded with the miniature KIV-7 that interestingly used a system of over-the-air keying pioneered by the now obsolete BID150. Breaking the code would be a barn door challenge for GCHQ.

  • OnlyHalfALooney

    Jonathan Sacoolas worked at an RAF base and may also enjoy NATO immunity. NATO “official staff” are treated the same as military personnel. I am not sure about the legal position of his family members, but in practice they seem to enjoy some immunity.

    on the status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, National Representatives and International Staff signed in Ottawa

    Article XII
    Every person designated by a Member State as its principal permanent representative to the Organization in the territory of another Member State, and such members of his official staff resident in that territory as may be agreed between the State which has designated them and the Organization and between the Organization and the State in which they will be resident, shall enjoy the immunities and privileges accorded to diplomatic representatives and their official staff of comparable rank.

    In the Netherlands, dependents of US NATO personnel are treated almost the same as actual NATO personnel. Only US military police is permitted to intervene, carry out searches, arrests, etc.

    If you show a NATO ID card at a NATO country border or to national police, the (civilian) authorities have to let you pass without any questions unless they call the military police. In other words civil authorities have no jurisdiction.

    The question may hinge on whether Jonathon Sacoolas (and possibly his wife) had been issued with a NATO ID card and the US government regards him as NATO personnel and his wife as “NATO forces dependent”.

    • craig Post author

      He was not here with NATO – who are very definitely not a party to the GCHQ/NSA arrangement. Besides I don’t know of a single case where NATO immunity was not waived in the case of criminal prosecution by a fellow NATO member.

      • Donaldson

        I served in the UK not so many years ago as a uniformed service member of the USA. I was assigned to NATO. Just a handful of observations, and not just relative to Craig’s above, but to others throughout these comments.

        I was only at RAF Croughton once. More than once I made the same driving mistake as she likely did, instinctively looking left while turning into right hand lane. I tended to only do it when there was no other traffic to orient me, which seems to have been the driver’s case here. Back in the states many years now, I sometimes find myself looking right while pulling out into the left (the wrong) lane. I took my family to France via the ferry, and I made my children repeatedly yell at every intersection when we got to France, “RIGHT LANE!” It was a mistake, most likely, not reckless, and I can’t help feeling that there but for the grace of God go I.

        Someone mentioned the empty front passenger seat. Americans have it beaten into us, and it’s often state law, that children below a certain age and height must be secured in the rear seats, most often in a child seat of some sort. I don’t find anything suspicious in the report of the empty front passenger seat.

        Someone mentioned that the SOFA between the USA and the UK is classified SECRET. If so, someone should tell my barrister who read it aloud while sitting in the pub with me. He often represented clients with international abduction cases before the High Court and was quite familiar with agreements such as the SOFA. I paid dearly but wisely for his services. What he told me at the time about my case was that, according to the SOFA, the court in CAMBS had no jurisdiction in my matter, but it was rather a matter for the Home Office. His plan was that we let it play out at that level until a decision went against me, at which time we would take it out of their control and to the Home Office. The reporting that Northamptonshire police was conducting the investigation accordingly seemed awry. If this woman had any status under the SOFA, it seems her matter also should have been taken out of their hands quickly and handed to the Home Office.

        Finally, my work used to be to find certain bad people, correctly ascertain what action, if any, could lawfully be taken against those people, and pass my work off to other elements who took care of the bad people. I’m not talking wedding parties here, I’m talking genuinely bad people planning death and mayhem who needed to be out of circulation. I can tell you that no matter what information sharing goes on between the USA and the UK, I could no more obtain communications information on a UK resident than I could on a US person. The same was true of any FVEY partner. If such collection and sharing ever went on, it was in channels that no one I worked with ever knew about.

  • rwendland

    At least the U.S. makes this kind of diplomatic status explicit within the U.S. with their A-2 Visa which includes the category “Government official representing your government, coming to the United States based on written request of your country to perform official, government related duties” which would cover Sacoolas kind of work. A-2 Visa holders, and official family members, have diplomatic immunity just like A-1 Visa holders who are govt ministers, ambassador/consul and similar. I guess they expect similar treatment by the UK, but as you say Craig, I’m not aware that UK law allows for that. It would be good to see it tested in the UK courts.

  • Tom Welsh

    I think Mr and Mrs Sacoolas must have diplomatic privileges, based on the informal agreement between the US government and the rest of the world that states, “If you do everything we tell you to, immediately and unquestioningly, we won’t bomb you or otherwise murder you”.

    • Tom Welsh

      Another famous example of this pattern was the Raymond Allen Davis incident, which established the precedent that when an American spy working undercover in a foreign country murders someone, he is protected by diplomatic immunity. It’s really more of an aristocracy/vile peasant thing. If an aristocrat kills a vile peasant, no one really cares.

  • Paul Barbara

    Yet HMG can’t wait to send Julian Assange to a likely life in prison for a non-crime, and refused to accept him as a Ecuadorean Diplomat when offered that rank by Ecuador.

    • Tom Welsh

      It seems that the law, in “Western” countries, is now purely ornamental and – as far as governments are concerned – optional.

      They use it when it suits their purpose, and ignore it when it doesn’t.

      And what can an ordinary citizen do about that?

  • Tom Welsh

    “…Sacoolas must be the subject of a DSMA notice given that all mainstream media are referring to him constantly as a “diplomat”, when they all know that is not true”.

    I am happy to have the benefit of Mr Murray’s expert knowledge of diplomatic law, and I would not dream of questioning his authority.

    But I always understood that DSMA notices are only advisory and have no legal force. Moreover, surely they only request the media to refrain from publishing certain statements. How can a DSMA notice force the media to say something that is untrue? (In this case, that Sacoolas is a diplomat).

    If the government can force (or otherwise prevail upon) the media to make arbitrary statements that are untrue, we really have entered George Orwell’s dystopia.

    • craig Post author

      I don’t expect that the DSMA notice forces them to say he’s a diplomat. But I am pretty sure there is one telling them not to say he is from the NSA, and after that printing the government “diplomat” lie is needed as a cover story.

      • Tom Welsh

        Thanks for the explanation. Of course that works only if the media decision-makers value keeping in with government more than the truth.

        They could – and should – publish all the notice doesn’t forbid, and say nothing more. To invent an untrue “cover story” is gratuitously wicked.

        Best was the policy of the newspaper editor who, on being forbidden to publish certain stories, pictures and headlines, simply left the spaces blank.

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    Thanks Craig for this information . It brings a light to bear on the murky dealings that exist between the UK and US and its surveillance of the population.
    While the sham appeals by Raab and Johnson to the US to forego the unstated mutual indemnity arrangement are undoubtedly disgraceful, and a smokescreen of false sympathy, in order to deceive the family and the wider population, their actions reveal their true moral stature.
    But let us not forget that the individual concerned also reveals her craven nature and a great deficit of moral stature, to remove herself, probably with the collusion of the US government, from appropriate investigation and potentially, censure.
    Cheap and low.

  • M.J.

    I wonder whether Boris will chase up the matter, and if so, whether anything will come of it.

    • Rod

      Let’s hope whatever the prime minister does on Harry Dunn’s family’s behalf, he makes abetter fist of it than he did as foreign secretary for Mrs Ratcliffe.

  • Republicofscotland

    Yeah the poor kid killed knocked off his motorbike. Johnson has been in the media saying he’ll personally bring it up with the US administration.

    However as we all know Johnson says a lot of things that aren’t necessarily true, or come to fruition. I’m very sceptical that this woman who fled back to America, will be forced to return anytime soon.

    My condolences to the grieving parents, who need justice.

  • Ross

    Seems the MSM has been shamed into reporting that Sacoolas was not a registered diplomat. Why did the UK authorities not bother to actually verify the claim that Sacoolas was subject to diplomatic immunity?

  • jake

    While maybe not a proper bona fide “diplomat”, wouldn’t the provisions of the Visiting Forces Act apply?
    My understanding of the actual application of this is that where the authorities of the visiting forces “deal” with the matter themselves then no further action follows from the UK.

  • alan

    This woman and her husband should be ashamed trying to use a loophole to escape justice. And shame on the U.S. if they allow it!

    • Hatuey

      If she was breathalysed on the scene and found to be driving under the influence, standard procedure in accidents of this seriousness, would the police have told us? As I understand it, all they are saying is that she has left and thereby refused to cooperate with the enquiry.

    • Billy Brexit

      I suspect the matter was taken out of the woman’s hands by the US Embassy, as she does not have diplomatic immunity which would have entitled her to leave on a scheduled flight, they arranged a private flight from a US airbase. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this course of action, I doubt we will see the woman in a UK police station let alone a court. I imagine it would be called a damage limitation exercise.

      I would be prepared to give the woman the benefit of the doubt that she made a mistake on isolated UK country roads where there are few other vehicles to orientate from, and expect she was not intoxicated as it is reported she had one of her own children in the back seat.

      When driving in the USA I remember two occasions on isolated roads when I drove on the left hand side before correcting my mistake. This is an unfortunate accident although the bereaved parents do need some sort of closure on this.

    • craig Post author

      That’s fascinating that Sky News article seems taken pretty well verbatim from this article, but attributed to Mark Stephens – whom nevertheless should be congratulated for taking it up.

      • Sharp Ears

        Sir, Most of us are very grateful for the contribution that the US makes to our collective defence. But what possible justification can there be for US citizens working at RAF Croughton being granted diplomatic immunity (“US urged to return diplomat’s wife after crash”, Oct 7)? And what justification can there be for the United States to invoke such immunity to prevent a prosecution for causing death by dangerous driving of a local man? It is not the behaviour we expect of allies and those whom we have treated and regarded for decades as good neighbours in our community.
        Sir Tony Baldry
        Bloxham, Oxon

        PS Two free articles per week if you register with Mr Murdoch.

        In searching I came across an article about the difficulty that is being experienced by HMG/BBC?? in selling Caversham!!

        • Tom Welsh

          “Most of us are very grateful for the contribution that the US makes to our collective defence”.

          Defence against whom? Or what? Ming the Merciless? Stalin? The Mekon?

  • SteveF

    Maybe it’s a bit clearer now to the UK and overseas populations that the USA military forces on our land can do whatever they like, and this includes murder, rape and robbery. They truly are an invading force and our government is colluding with the Invaders.

    • Tom Welsh

      The Golden Rule applies here, as always. “Them that has the gold makes the rules”.

      Although Washington ran out of gold about 50 years ago, because of all the wars it kept waging, and had to switch to printing paper money – and finally just to shoving electrons and magnetic domains around.

      I have been rereading Bertrand Russell’s excellent short book “Power” (written in 1938). Either the realities of power change remarkably little, or Russell was uncannily prescient. Probably both. Strongly recommended!

  • remember kronstadt

    according to a sky report ‘she’ can be sued in the US. no mention of breath testing.

    • SteveF

      The question is why did she flee ?
      From various reports it appears that she may have just gotten confused and turned the wrong way, which unfortunately is not uncommon. If this was the case she would probably have been charged with careless driving or worse case manslaughter, with probably just a minimal punishment. Fleeing has now caused a major, and unneccesary, sh!t storm. Makes no sense, even if her husband was a spook.
      Also, if this was a Russian would the same rules apply ?

      • lysias

        Drunken driving? Or her own position may have been too sensitive to disclose. A reporter was told she was at least formerly employed by the State Department, but could not find out what her job there was. This to me suggests: CIA officer under diplomatic cover.

  • Vivian O'Blivion

    Those other great, exceptionalists the Saudis routinely use their Diplomatic staff to ghost Saudi nationals accused of serious crimes out of the reach of justice. Private jets leaving from small airports. Saudi nationals accused of hit and runs, rapes etc. Not minor Princelings, just ordinary citizens (presumably from Sunni tribes in favour with the Royals). Six cases from Oregon alone.

  • Goose

    Strange status for GCHQ and NSA employees to have really. As afaik, Five Eyes countries aren’t supposed to conduct surveillance in each other’s countries. The tech dumb politicians obviously treat these agencies like voodoo tech gods dealing in technologies beyond human comprehension, hence the secrecy around everything they do and until very recently, extremely sloppy oversight.

    We’ve had little discussion in the UK about the very recent plans to circumvent encrypted communications(the end-to end) put to tech companies by Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson of the UK’s GCHQ. Put simply, their suggestion involves forcing service providers to secretly add an extra user — the government — to an encrypted conversation. This ethically highly dubious plan involves the user(s) being unaware of that added 3rd user (obviously)and their software basically lying to them about their presence. It also means each device generating a new key pair for the hidden user to join, so it would be detectable by tech savvy criminals. For those interested more reading here:

    • Tom Welsh

      But in practice the state is really nothing more than a large and complex group of individuals – each with his or her own motives, ambitions, secrets and crimes.

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