The Foreign Office Must Be Challenged Over Sacoolas’ Immunity 319

The government has stepped up its lies about immunity in the Sacoolas case to a breathtaking degree. I genuinely am astounded by the sheer audacity of the lies now being told, including a staggeringly mendacious FCO-briefed BBC article yesterday stating that “23,000 individuals in the UK have diplomatic immunity” and that it extends to “drivers and cooks”. This follows up the breathtaking FCO statement to Sky News that RAF Croughton “is regarded as an annex to the US Embassy in London” – a total falsehood.

What I cannot understand is why. The entire incident is extremely strange. On the face of it, Harry Dunn’s death was a tragic accident caused by somebody who had not long been in the UK driving on the wrong side of the road. This dreadful mistake is forgivable, as Harry’s very sensible parents have said; there seems little reason to believe the justice system would have been more harsh. There was no conceivable need to run away. That is what they cannot forgive.

Make no mistake; the spiriting of the Sacoolas family out of the UK was a considered act by the US Government and, in the case of a manslaughter in an allied state, the decision not to waive immunity would have been taken right at the top of the State Department. Make no mistake about it either, the FCO would have been informed and complicit in the decision and has only pretended to protest after massive public pressure, got up by Harry’s admirable family a full three weeks after the incident had been, the government would have hoped, successfully buried.

But why? It should be stated that it is the norm to waive diplomatic immunity in serious cases between allied or friendly developed states, where each has confidence in the other’s justice system. Unless the accident did not happen as stated, or there is a Chris Huhne type blame switch involved (Trump yesterday very carefully made the point that cameras had confirmed the identity of the driver – I was not sure why he brought this up when nobody had questioned it), it is very hard to understand why diplomatic immunity has been insisted on in this case. Assuming that Anne Sacoolas was the driver and the incident was as described, the only explanation I can think of is that it was hoped by getting them out the country to avoid all publicity and scrutiny of Jonathon Sacoolas’ real job, which is to spy on British citizens communications’ for GCHQ, who face legal impediments in doing so.

I would like to be able to say that if that cover-up is the plan, it has backfired, except that the media has unanimously censored all reporting of what Sacoolas actually does in the UK. Which is quite extraordinary given the massive but (deliberately) wildly misleading coverage of this case. I wish there were many more places than here you could come to learn the truth, but there are not. In which context, it is worth noting that both Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post have joined the DSMA Notice Committee and become willing tools of the UK security services.

After I pointed out that Sacoolas does not appear on the Diplomatic List, does not hold diplomatic rank and is not accredited to a diplomatic mission, and therefore cannot be a “diplomatic agent” under the Vienna Convention, the FCO first admitted this and claimed his immunity stemmed from a separate bilateral agreement, as reported by Sky News.

Having negotiated many international agreements in my time in the FCO, I know that they need to be given effect in UK domestic law, usually by Order in Council. I therefore searched for legislation giving the Secretary of State authority to grant immunity from criminal prosecution under bilateral agreements for spy bases, and I could find nothing. The legal basis for granting immunities under the Vienna Convention is the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964, which enacted it into UK legislation. The legal basis for granting military immunity under Status of Forces Agreements, or for NATO personnel, is clear and set out in the Visiting Forces Act of 1952.

I could find nothing that would give legal powers to a Secretary of State to grant immunity to US spies on military bases working on communications interception of UK citizens. No legislation was passed to give legal effect in the UK to the reputed bilateral agreements which cover this.

I therefore wrote to the FCO asking for a copy of the bilateral agreement under which Sacoolas has immunity, and a copy of the UK legislation giving the authority to grant the immunity to the Secretary of State. I have not received any reply, but apparently it concentrated minds because the FCO has now switched to make an aggressive – and nonsensical – assertion that Sacoolas is a diplomat in terms of the Vienna Convention.

Not only that, the FCO’s admission to Mark Stephens, reported in that original article by Sky News, that Sacoolas was not a diplomat under the Vienna Convention has been expunged from history. The Sky News defence correspondent Alistair Bunkall had tweeted a reply to me copying this report, as evidence there was no DSMA notice controlling the reporting of the Sacoolas case.

Yet this article, held up by Bunkall as evidence of a free media, was within 24 hours totally rewritten to remove the FCO’s admission that Sacoolas was not on the diplomatic list, and replace it with the new FCO attack line of strong assertion that Sacoolas is covered by the Vienna Convention, and to highlight Dominic Raab’s entirely insincere and pretend effort to request Sacoolas’ return. The story has in effect been completely rewritten by the FCO. This is what the same page, the same url, Bunkall tweeted out looks like now:

Pretty well all that remains of the original – accurate – story is the url, now totally at odds with the content There is no acknowledgement that the story has been changed, and the original is strangely not available even on the wayback machine. If Bunkall has not tweeted it, it would be difficult to prove this brief moment of reporting the truth had never existed. The irony of Bunkall’s tweeting a now completely censored report as evidence of press freedom is stunning.

Forgive me but I here must insert my original post on Sacoolas to make plain the actual legal position:

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.


With this in mind, let us examine the claims made by the FCO to the media in response. From that Sky News report we have:

This is utter nonsense. It is simply untrue. RAF Croughton is not an annex to the US Embassy. The FCO has invented this lie to counter the fact that, to qualify for diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, Sacoolas must be attached to a diplomatic mission. RAF Croughton is not a diplomatic mission. A RAF base cannot be a US Embassy.

That RAF Croughton is an annex of the US Embassy can be immediately disproved. An Embassy is the sovereign territory of the nation which owns it. Within Embassy premises, the law which applies is the law of the Embassy’s state, not the host state. That is not the case in RAF Croughton. That RAF Croughton is not an Annex of the US Embassy can be instantly proven beyond any doubt or argument by the fact that the bye-laws applicable within it are promulgated by the UK Secretary of State for Defence.

If the base were an annex to the US Embassy, the UK Secretary of State could not make bye-laws for it. There is no mention within the bye-laws covering security and management of and access to RAF Croughton of any area within it being part of the US Embassy. The claim is a simple and straightforward lie, and a rather desperate one.

Finally, if RAF Croughton were an annex to the US Embassy and if Mr Sacoolas were a diplomat, the cars of both he and his wife would have diplomatic CD plates. Mrs Sacoolas was not driving a diplomatic car – an obviously vital fact in this case, again omitted from all mainstream media reporting.

There are further lies in the Sky News report.

On the contrary, the Diplomatic List is a comprehensive record of every diplomat notified to the FCO as having diplomatic status by Diplomatic Note – and as specified in Article 10 of the Vienna Convention, a person must be so notified to become a “diplomatic agent”. There are no “diplomatic agents” not on the Diplomatic List.

I was in the Foreign Office for 20 years and a member of its Senior Management Structure for 6 years. It would be nice if you took my word for this, but you don’t have to – it is very neatly explained at the very start of the Diplomatic List:

The entire purpose of the list is to record those with diplomatic immunity and the legislation under which they get it. From page 127 to 137 it lists those who have diplomatic immunity not under the Diplomatic Privileges Act – which only covers national Embassies and High Commissions – but under other legislation as they work not for nations but for international agencies: and in every individual case the Diplomatic List names the specific legislation which confers the immunity.

The major purpose of the London Diplomatic List is to be a compendium of diplomatic status with a precise attribution of immunity and its source. As Sacoolas is not listed as a diplomat of the US Embassy in the Diplomatic List or the Consular List, he is not a “diplomatic agent” entitled to full diplomatic immunity. Full stop. As explained below, Sacoolas’ wife would only have diplomatic immunity while driving privately if he held a full diplomatic rank (in which case her car would have diplomatic CD plates, which it does not).

The FCO claim that the Diplomatic List only covers London is also ludicrous. The same government webpage gives you the full list of consulates, with their consuls, and even of honorary consuls, outside of London. It does not list Embassy annexes outside London because there are none and the concept does not exist in international law. Embassy outposts from the capital are consulates or consular offices.

The FCO is trying to convince you that their entire section of staff who work on diplomatic accreditations and constantly update the Diplomatic List, are wasting their time on an entirely pointless exercise producing futile and incomplete lists. I wonder how those employees’ morale is today.

But Raab’s FCO did not stop there with the lies. They then briefed the BBC to produce an article on diplomatic immunity so full of lies as to be truly astonishing. I am prepared to confess that I could not complete this blog entry for three days because I was genuinely emotionally upset by the realisation that the UK now has a government whose noted penchant for “aggressive” media and opinion management means it is prepared to employ the big lie on any occasion and subject.

The BBC article is plainly based entirely on an FCO briefing and written with the express and sole intention of obscuring the fact that Sacoolas is not a diplomat. It contains so many outrageous lies that I am afraid this article is going to get still longer. If you have had the patience to stick with me so far, please bear with me a bit further.

This is another quite extraordinary lie, as anybody can easily confirm simply by reading the Vienna Convention. As explained above, full diplomatic immunity is enjoyed only by “diplomatic agents” who must be persons “Having diplomatic rank”.

As very plainly set out in articles 37 of the Vienna Convention:

Article 37
1.The members of the family of a diplomatic agent forming part of his household shall, if they are
not nationals of the receiving State, enjoy the privileges and immunities specified in articles 29 to 36.

2.Members of the administrative and technical staff of the mission, together with members of
their families forming part of their respective households, shall, if they are not nationals of or
permanently resident in the receiving State, enjoy the privileges and immunities specified in articles 29
to 35, except that the immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving State specified
in paragraph 1 of article 31 shall not extend to acts performed outside the course of their duties. They
shall also enjoy the privileges specified in article 36, paragraph 1, in respect of articles imported at the
time of first installation.

3.Members of the service staff of the mission who are not nationals of or permanently resident in
the receiving State shall enjoy immunity in respect of acts performed in the course of their duties,
exemption from dues and taxes on the emoluments they receive by reason of their employment and the
exemption contained in article 33.

So “diplomatic agents” “having diplomatic rank” – which, remember, Sacoolas does not have – hold full immunity as do their families.

“Administrative and technical staff” have immunity from prosecution only while performing acts “in the course of their duties”. That is while actually engaged in work for their governments, not outwith their working time. Their families also have exactly the same immunity, and as the families do not have any official duties to be engaged in, in practice their immunity is only civil ie from taxation.

In the case of another spy, Shai Masot, not on the diplomatic list, when challenged as to his diplomatic status the FCO claimed he was not a “diplomatic agent” but only “technical and administrative staff”. As an NSA communications interception expert Sacoolas could arguably be “technical and administrative staff” if it were true that RAF Croughton were an annex of the US Embassy – but that plainly is not true.

However even were Sacoolas covered by immunity as “technical and administrative work” he and his family would only be covered for events that happened in the direct course of his work, and very, very plainly Anne Sacoolas would not have had diplomatic immunity when she hit Harry Dunn. She only had immunity if Sacoolas is a full blown “diplomatic agent” – which he isn’t. We are yet to be told what “diplomatic rank” he allegedly holds. So for the BBC to try to obscure the case with cooks and gardeners – who as “service staff” have even less immunity and their families none at all – is deliberate obfuscation.

This is an utterly tendentious claim. As explained above, the only people with practical diplomatic immunity outside their actual work are full blown diplomats, and there are just over 3,000 of them, all captured in the Diplomatic List. The BBC report attempts to make out that categories such as “international organisations” account for significant parts of this alleged horde of diplomats, but as noted above those from international organisations entitled to diplomatic immunity are all in the London Diplomatic List pp 127 to 137 and amount to just 220 people. It is also worth remembering that the majority of family members who have immunity are children.

There is a much larger number of military personnel who enjoy immunity under the Visiting Forces Act – a total disgrace, in my view – but this is not diplomatic immunity and it is not claimed Sacoolas has it. I have no idea where the ridiculous 23,000 figure for diplomatic immunity originates. Dominic Raab’s arse seems the best bet.

The Johnson/Raab PR strategy here is plain – to drown investigation of Sacoolas’ extremely dodgy claim to political asylum in a sea of tens of thousands of fictitious holders of dodgy political asylum. The government has decided to make us overlook Sacoolas by pretending that there are 23,000 obscure foreigners roaming our country as “diplomats”, each of whom has the license to burgle your home, piss on your floor, kill your daughter and rape your son without facing any possible criminal prosecution or comeback. If this were true, it would be a catastrophic and alarming state of affairs. Thankfully it is a great morass of fiction the government has created within which to try and bury Sacoolas.

This fake “diplomatic immunity” needs to be challenged in court, but I am not sure anyone except Harry Dunn’s family has the locus to do this. Their son was killed by the wife of a spy and to avoid political embarrassment about his activities, the government has falsely connived at a status of diplomatic immunity and then pretended to be trying to get Mrs Sacoolas back. That is an awful lot to take in for people in a terrible state of grief. After losing a son, the cognitive dissonance involved in uncovering state secrets, and learning that the state is malevolent and senior ministerial office holders are liars, is a huge hurdle to surmount. The Dunn family have first to summon the will to fight it, and then to avoid the attempts to hug them in the suffocating embrace of an establishment lawyer – believe me the powers that be will be covertly thrusting one at them – who will advise them they are most likely to make progress if they rock no boats.

The only people I know of who effectively enjoy secret diplomatic immunity are spies from CIA/NSA like Jonathon Sacoolas or from Mossad like Shai Masot. There are not any other categories of pretend diplomats having immunity, and the elaborate charade to pretend that there are is a nonsense. It must not distract from the fact that the claim that the government can grant US and Israeli intelligence agencies diplomatic immunity at will is a lie. The government is acting illegally here. There is no legislation that covers Raab in allowing Mrs Sacoolas to kill – albeit accidentally – with impunity.

I pray both the government and Mrs Sacoolas will be brought to account. I hope Mr and Mrs Dunn find what peace they can with their loss, and are able to remember with due warmth the eighteen wonderful years that I am sure they had with their son.


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319 thoughts on “The Foreign Office Must Be Challenged Over Sacoolas’ Immunity

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    • Denton Scratch

      That sounds right to me; I think extradition is orthogonal to criminal or civil proceedings. It sounds to me like she committed an offence (civil? criminal? Don’t know), and it’s proper that what happened should be investigated – somebody died. Once that investigation has been completed, it might or might not be reasonable to request extradition. Hey – maybe she should be extradited anyway, just to help with the investigation; I mean, that’s what the Merkins wanted us to do with Julian Assange, amiright?

      Without any investigation at all, we know nothing (yeah, right, “John Snow”).

  • Keith Fletcher

    Excellent piece, the FCO bit firmly between your teeth and long may you chew on it! Also yet another good example of the “Rule of Law” never being an impediment to those that feel “Might is Right”, and further evidence that the form of “democracy” endorsed by the UK and US has nothing to do with the legal rights of it’s subjects or citizens.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Keith Fletcher October 12, 2019 at 22:51
      ‘..further evidence that the form of “democracy” endorsed by the UK and US has nothing to do with the legal rights of it’s subjects or citizens…’ or the subjects and citizens of any other state marked out for ‘Regime Change’ (or a ‘strategic requirement’, like the Chagos Islanders).
      I am glad that Russia and China (despite China’s atrocious Human Rights record) are standing firm against the 5-Eyes Middle-East controlled NWO-One World Gulag.
      I don’t believe the masses will wake up, till the sudden ‘nuclear winter’ caused by whichever nuke battle occurs first. But Fukushima has essentially done for us all already; it won’t take long for the radiation to spread, and do it’s damage. The earths’ surface is some 3/4 sea, plus the (radio-active) sea evaporates and falls as rain. Toodly pip!

  • Mrs Pau!

    There was a letter in The Times (of London) yesterday from Retd police Chief Superintendent Leonard Wise of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, saying : “A sensible way forward would be for Mrs Sacoolas’ to present herself at the British Embassy in Washington and make an affadavit explaining what happened. The affadavit could be presented to a full British inquest where a jury would decide the cause of Harry Dunn’s death. Should it record careless driving, Mrs Sacoolas could voluntarily appear before a court in the US and be sentenced under its punishment guidelines. All that is required is goodwill and commonsense all around so that there is some sort of justice for the family”.

    • Denton Scratch

      That sounds like sense; but you can’t be prosecuted in the USA for a criminal offence committed in the UK (with some exceptions – terrrizzm is one, I think). You can be sued in the USA for negligent acts in the UK; but then the petitioner is going to need Merkin attorneys and lots on moolah. I’d forget it, unless a newspaper is promising to pay my legal fees.

  • Tony

    Try as I might, I can’t read into this the statement by Raab that he explicitly acknowledges that the Sacoolas family didn’t have diplomatic status at the time of the accident. He appears to be continuing with the prevarication. Maybe we are being softened up by the claim (unsourced) in Integrity Initiative News and the Currant Bun that diplomatic status was post mortem (which is damning in itself: It wasn’t us, guv, it was the Yanks).

    • Denton Scratch

      “continuing with the prevarication”

      I’ve never heard him open his slimy mouth without prevarication happening. He’s a nasty piece of work.

  • Sharp Ears

    Raab and the FCO operatives in King Charles Street have been forced to change tack on Anne Sacoolas’s so called diplomatic immunity by Craig’s work in setting out the facts. They had no alternative.

  • John Goss

    It would be interesting to hear Mark Stephens’ view now. I would be surprised if he did not stick by his original claim. As a former defence lawyer of Julian Assange and many other high-profile persecuted people his opinion would be of value. But my understanding is you need to have a lot of dosh if you want Mark’s opinion.

  • N_

    1) “Trump yesterday very carefully made the point that cameras had confirmed the identity of the driver – I was not sure why he brought this up when nobody had questioned it“. He also insisted “It was an accident”. And at one stage he seemed to be saying that Anne Sacoolas and the person driving the car were different people, although he kinda got out of it.

    2) Meanwhile his former employee Piers “C***” Morgan has suggested (using paraleipsis) that actually Anne Sacoolas may have murdered Harry Dunn. There is absolutely no way that Morgan’s words “Nobody is suggesting that Anne Sacoolas, 42, deliberately drove on the wrong side of the road, or intended to kill Harry Dunn” would have appeared in the Daily Mail, as they did, without the OK from powerful interests.

    3) Not all treaties are given effect by publicly available documents. The “UKUSA” treaty (which used to be called the “British-USA” treaty back in the days when, unlike today, the entire media and an army of unthinking f***wits didn’t confuse the country Britain with its currently prevailing monarchist political regime) went officially unacknowledged for about 60 years. Some treaties are secret, even if secret treaties are unlawful under article 102(1) of the UN Charter: “Every treaty and every international agreement entered into by any Member of the United Nations after the present Charter comes into force shall as soon as possible be registered with the Secretariat and published by it.” (Think of this whenever a British minister describes Israel as a “close ally” of Britain. Where’s the treaty that established the alliance? This is an especially interesting question given that Britain declared neutrality during the Six Day War and belonged to the EEC which did the same during the Yom Kippur War.) Doesn’t the whole designation of US bases as “RAF” bases have something to do with this?

    4) I love it when they change articles but keep the URL, as they did on 7/7.

  • N_

    What happened to the car after the crash? Where is it? Do the British police have it, or is it in the hands of the US?

  • Nick Wright

    Excellent piece. The media black out is almost total only the Morning Star discussed the issues of ‘immunity’, extraterritoriality and the likely espionage status of the fugitive’s husband.

  • Ronny

    There’s a paragraph where you twice refer to “political asylum”. Is that what you meant, or did you mean to write “diplomatic immunity”?

    • SA

      Even so this is yet another poor attempt at covering your track.

      “We have looked at this very carefully … the UK government’s position is that immunity, and therefore any question of waiver, is no longer relevant in Mrs Sacoolas’ case, because she has returned home.”

      Looked at it carefully indeed and after the furore generated. This should be their bread and butter, not looked at carefully after making shoddy excuses.

      • N_

        1) What are the Foreign Office actually saying, when they observe that immunity isn’t currently relevant? If when you did something you were immune from prosecution for it, you’re not supposed to be prosecuted for it later. You may be prosecuted for a) what you did that you weren’t immune from prosecution for, or b) something you did later. It’s probably one of those two that the Foreign Office are hinting at.

        2) Has anyone published a list yet of who was in the car with Anne Sacoolas? No? Well that’s likely to be important then.

        3) C’mon, we’re supposed to believe she was spirited out of the country without any British official having prior knowledge?

        4) There is no way that this story got out all by itself.

        5) Incidents like this are not at all rare among actual diplomats, let alone among those who appear in Britain to be the much larger group of foreign citizens ranging from those who can do whatever they want and those in relation to whose actions there might sometimes have to be meetings to sort things out.

        6) Nostrils should try to detect

        * a possible German involvement, given the geopolitical (i.e. geoeconomic) importance of UKUSA/FVEY and what it has found itself problematically connected to recently

        * a possible Israeli and Iranian connection, given Benyamin Netanyahu’s “surprise” trip to Britain a week later, during which as well as meeting with Mr Helpful in Number 10 he also met with the US Defence Secretary.

  • Willie

    Tragic accidents happen. People make mistakes, lose concentration, commit wrongs, go to fast, fail to take due care and attention, drive recklessly.

    When someone gets killed there is normally an investigation. And killing someone at the hands of a driver not exercising due care or whatever is no exception.

    But what you have here is someone killing someone and then running away – fleeing the country with the connivance of a so called friendly ally. – and right up to the president of the USA. So what indeed give. Killing someone and running away, it doesn’t get much worse than that.

    Maybe someone else was the driver. Someone who was a spy spying on British citizens at the murky heart of British / American intelligence. Now that would be a good reason to let someone get away with murder.

    I feel so sorry for the parents of Harry Dunn . Killed by a driver who has fled the country with the Uzk and American governments blessing all the way up to Johnson and Trump.

    Box em up, bury em, and get over it. It’s as brutal as that in this fucked up joke of a country.. And again, so absolutely tragic for the dead boy’s parents.

    • Mosaic

      Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in itself—at least in the USA—regardless of one’s role in the accident.

      “Leaving the scene of an accident causing injury is a third degree felony offense, punishable by up to 5 years in state prison and a fine up to $5,000. The most serious of all hit and run offenses is leaving the scene of an accident causing death.”

      “The most serious of all hit and run offenses is leaving the scene of an accident causing death. This crime is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in state prison and a fine up to $10,000. “

    • Denton Scratch

      “Killing someone and running away, it doesn’t get much worse than that.”


      If you’re a diplomat, you can reasonably expect to be treated leniently, if it really looks like an accident (and to me, that’s what it looks like). If you’re actually just the diplomat’s missus, it comes down to the same thing; we are not headchoppers here, the punishment for driving mistakes is a fine, and points on your licence. You won’t get jail-time unless the “accident” was a deliberate misdeed.

      Yeah, I know: he’s not a diplomat, he’s something else. And she’s certainly not a diplomat – she’s the wife of some dude with a peculiar job description. None of that matters; we can be lenient with the people our allies send to work here. Even if they double-park, and pay no attention to parking fines.


  • Baron

    Well done, Mr. Murray.

    You should apply to run the FO, it would do wonders for our reputation, instead of being laughed at, we would regain respect and good name for fairness, objectivity and common sense.

    • M.J.

      Not a bad idea. Maybe a government led by Corbyn might be interested in a Foreign Secretary like Craig? OTOH, I suspect that Craig would be more interested in working for an independent Scottish government – or helping it to come about.

  • michael norton

    From the dead teenager’s mother
    “We’ve known from the start that the extra feeling in the pit of our tummies, told us that something wasn’t right.

    We’re proud of ourselves for fighting for justice for Harry, and not ignoring this gnawing within our bodies.

    We’d rather have our beautiful boy back, but we are also elated that all this fighting for justice for Harry has not been in vain. We’ll continue to fight for change to the diplomatic immunity laws and any other positive changes we can achieve.”

    Mark Stephens, a lawyer for the Dunn family said: “She was allowed to, or encouraged to be spirited away on an American transport plane and effectively rendered a fugitive from British justice.

    “And now of course we find out that she’s not entitled to diplomatic immunity, and in those circumstances she is in a foreign land a fugitive from British justice.

    “We do hope she returns herself voluntarily and that this was just a bad piece of advice she received from the American authorities.”

    This is rather an unusual amount of actual information for the BBC

    They must have been told to put all this out.

  • Sharp Ears

    Mark Stephens was on Sky News this morning. It was news that Sacoolas had her 10 year old with her in the car.

    ‘Mr Stephens told Sky News: “The most important thing for Dunn family is not whether she’s prosecuted or not, they need to see her, talk to her about last moments of their son’s life so they can get closure.

    “They have been denied that by her fleeing jurisdiction.

    “Mrs Sacoolas had her 10-year-old son strapped into the front seat of her vehicle and that would have been a traumatic experience for her son, and I’m sure the Sacoolas family are dealing with some matters that are tragic as well.

    “There is a basis for having a human meeting, it has to be in private, just mum, dad and Mrs Sacoolas, and they can ask the questions and get the answers both sides think they need.”

    Ms Jeffress had earlier contacted the Dunn family’s spokesperson Radd Seiger, who is in Washington.’

    Yesterday on the BBC.

    • N_

      ‘Mr Stephens told Sky News: “The most important thing for Dunn family is not whether she’s prosecuted or not, they need to see her, talk to her about last moments of their son’s life so they can get closure.

      Haha! Will the Foreign Office offer to chuck the family a few grand to get them to sign on the dotted line promising not to sue, the same way they tried to with Jean-Charles de Menezes’s family in Brazil?

      It sounds as though Mr and Mrs Dunn should get themselves someone other than Mark Stephens as a lawyer. Stephens may have represented James Hewitt and advised the McLibel Two and Julian Assange, but you gotta wonder whether he hasn’t been a snake in the grass all along.

      So the crash was on 27 August. What was the driver of the car doing? Nipping out to hand over a flash drive of NSA intercepts in the Jeffrey Epstein case? Epstein had been Sindonaed a fortnight before, so there might have been some ends to tie up so as not to “embarrass” the royal family. Did they write about that in the Vienna Convention? LOL

      • N_

        Do you know what else this reminds me of? The way that a Home Secretary (Kenneth Clarke, I think) decided to tell the family of Derek Bentley that although he had decided NOT to grant a pardon he was nevertheless prepared to say that had he been Home Secretary at the time he would have countermanded the death penalty, and that the dirty chav scum ought to be satisfied with that. A posh person had said something they might appreciate. Here’s your “closure” – be grateful for it! The poshboy scum love the population so much! And they’re so honest too! They even hold an inquiry into Bloody Sunday. (Never mind that the army tried to find and destroy the paratroopers’ weapons decades later, to get rid of the evidence.) Funny how they don’t let their brats go to the same schools as the chavs then. And they really respect working class people’s “families”. Truly and deeply respect them so much. They only have to think of a working class woman giving birth or wheeling a buggy onto a bus and they’re full of respect. They don’t tell lies, swearing blind that black is white, in order to justify protecting a person who deserves protection when some poor “random chav” has had their life ruined, or ended. Oh no, not at all – they don’t think like that. Anyone who says they do is ultra-antisocial or criminally insane, and in any case doesn’t deserve a sandwich.

        • Denton Scratch

          “the dirty chav scum”

          You made that up – I don’t believe Ken Clarke has ever used that kind of language. Can you cite, please?

  • M.J.

    The F.O. is now saying that Mrs Sacoolas doesn’t have diplomatic immunity, and that in fact the issue is irrelevant since she has returned to the USA. Boris doesn’t come out this looking good IMHO – sounding like an apologist for American policy. Let’s see what happens.

  • Alexander

    I very much hope that America is not wondering whether a quid pro quo might not be in order. Australia and Iran, after all, managed a friendly exchange recently.

    Is there, for example, anyone that the UK is holding whom the Washington monsters might like to get their hands on?

    • N_

      @Alexander – I don’t think the two filthy regimes are at loggerheads, but PR-wise perhaps on the same day that the poshboy one sends Julian Assange to face torture and death in the US they will say hello to Anne Sacoolas in Britain before she answers police questions on the “RAF” base and then some reason or other is “revealed” for why she has to be let go.

  • nevermind

    Congratulations, your tome seems to have finally persuaded Raab/ the FCO to speak with his mouth? Rather than his backside.

    Well done Craig.

  • A C Bruce


    I want you to know that I appreciate all the hard work which has gone into your article. I also want to express my horror at the USA and UK Governments’ cover up.

    My sincere condolences to Harry Dunn’s parents for the loss of their young son in such circumstances.

    His parents shouldn’t be having to deal with these b*st*rds at this terrible time. They are the lowest of the low.

  • philipat

    It appears that HMG is now trying to cover its traces by saying that Diplomatic Immunity is “no longer relevant” because Ms Sacoolas has already returned to the US. This is, of course not the true story which is that she NEVER had Diplomatic Immunity to begin with and without which she would never have been permitted to leave the UK. Given that possession is nine tenths of the law, the fact is that due to duplicity on the part of HMG to disguise the purpose of RAFCroughton and its NSA staff, the fact is that is already in the US and it is highly unlikely that she will be returned to the UK to face justice.

    • N_

      I’ve looked at the Vienna Convention.

      It is true that members of a mission’s “administrative and technical staff”, together with their family members, don’t have “full” diplomatic status. But there is only a single area in which diplomatic agents enjoy immunity and administrative and technical staff don’t. That is the area defined in article 36, which covers matters such as customs duties on items for personal use. Administrative and technical staff DO have criminal immunity under article 31.

      Summary: diplomatic agents have immunity under articles 29 to 36, whereas administrative and technical staff have immunity under articles 29 to 35. And criminal immunity comes under article 31. So it is quite accurate to say that a large number of staff have immunity from criminal prosecution who are not listed in the Diplomatic List.

      • N_

        @Craig – “‘Administrative and technical staff’ have immunity from prosecution only while performing acts ‘in the course of their duties’.”

        This statement is incorrect.

        If Jonathon Sacoolas counted as technical staff of a mission, then he and his wife Anne Sacoolas did have immunity from criminal prosecution, regardless of whether what either of them was doing was anything to do with his duties.

        Article 31(1) of the Vienna Convention
        “A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State. He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction, except in the case of [blah blah]”

        Article 37 (2)
        “Members of the administrative and technical staff of the mission, together with members of their families forming part of their respective households, shall, if they are not nationals of or permanently resident in the receiving State, enjoy the privileges and immunities specified in articles 29 to 35, except that the immunity from civil and administrative jurisdiction of the receiving State specified in paragraph 1 of article 31 shall not extend to acts performed outside the course of their duties.”

        So the first sentence of Article 31(1) applies to administrative and technical staff and their families, and it is only the subsequent sentences, which relate to civil and administrative jurisdictions, that don’t apply when the staff are not acting in the course of their duties.

        As for this bit

        After losing a son, the cognitive dissonance involved in uncovering state secrets, and learning that the state is malevolent and senior ministerial office holders are liars, is a huge hurdle to surmount.

        it’s b***ocks. Most “ordinary people” in Britain know that the “senior” types in the country are a bunch of lying c***s. Many were born knowing it. You should hear what they say behind their backs.

        • Mosaic

          But it doesn’t sound as though Sacoulas or his wife was technical staff attached to a diplomatic mission.
          He works at a British base—that is not a diplomatic mission.

      • AlexT

        Maybe it is now the official position of the UK government that Ms Sacoolas did in fact not have diplomatic immunity.

        • philipat

          I think it more accurate to say that HMG is attempting to obfuscate the issue by adopting the position that “Diplomatic Immunity is no longer relevant because she is now back in the US”. That position conveniently avoids addressing the issue of whether she actually was ever covered by Diplomatic Immunity. Such are the ways of our democratically elected Governments.

      • Denton Scratch


        I’m supposed to care about someone who does a hit-and-run, and then runs for diplomatic cover?

    • Doctor K

      It’s still up and readers of this site are doing a great job in countering the lies.
      It’s a great opportunity: please join us.

      • D_Majestic

        Have been doing all along. And had four attempts to get one post up. And two or so went down the pan. On the first article which allowed comments.

  • N_

    I suspect some “Prerogative” Orders in Council are kept secret and not published.

    Certainly some international treaties are kept secret and not published.

    But let’s not expect any journalist to stick their neck out. Always got to judge a regime by what it says about itself, right?

    What the Privy Council says. Note that there has been a lot of talk recently about “Orders of Council” rather than “Orders in Council”. The reason is to try to avoid damage to the monarch if one or more such orders are issued in relation to Brexit in the near future.

  • Alec

    There is a perfectly obvious explanation for all this. The Foreign Office is working against the interests of British citizens as it always has done. I can think of no occasion where a foreign government or it’s servants have not had their interests put over ours by the FCO. We have more chance of being treated fairly by the Kremlin than by our own civil service and this is always the case.

  • Kate

    Does anyone know how and why this story broke in the media? Although tragic I thought it seemed an unlikely candidate for the first item on BBC Radio 4 news last Sunday, particularly as it happened some weeks before.

    • michael norton

      I expect the story broke after the police informed the dead teenagers mother that the woman thought to have been responsible had been whisked out of the country by the American Deep State, then the mother went to the papers, as she rightly thought that an injustice was being allowed to happen.

      • N_

        The police in this kind of case will only give anyone any information about anything if the Foreign Office tell them to. There are “liaison” channels.

        Any British official who says they’ve got to do their job and national security can go and take a hike is likely to end up dead in a ditch.

    • Node

      Does anyone know how and why this story broke in the media? Although tragic I thought it seemed an unlikely candidate for the first item on BBC Radio 4 news last Sunday, particularly as it happened some weeks before.

      Good question. If the BBC were following other media outlets in breaking the story about Mrs Sacoolas fleeing, then they were probably engaged in damage limitation – spinning the official narrative. If however the BBC were first to publicise this chapter of the story, then there is more spook skullduggery in this than has yet been revealed.

      • N_

        No local paper will print a story about diplomatic immunity without permission. If a national paper gets hold of the story they will call the Foreign Office and the Foreign Office will then call the BBC.

  • SA

    The date chosen for a possible crashout Brexit, Halloween, is poignant in both senses of the word. It is scary, terrifyingly so and will throw us into the clutches of the US. Although Halloween is originally a Celtic feast to mark the end of summer, its modern revival is very American.
    On the other hand who knows, maybe instead of Halloween we will be celebrating All Saints day or Toussaint instead and get back to the European fold where we belong.

    • Barry O'Barma

      “the European fold where we belong.”
      Conveniently, you forget the Commonwealth, that global cultural and trading organization based on the English Common Law, with which no other bloc could ever compete, and which was shamelessly abandoned by the UK after 1950.

      Mind you, you are in good company. The Romans, The Vikings, The Normans, Philip of Spain, Charles and Napoleon of France, the Popes, Hitler and Mussolini (and Bonnie Prince Charles) all felt the same way about conquering the scepter’s isle.

      • SA

        Barry. My last sentence was somewhat tongue in cheek. It is extremely cruel of you therefore to place me in such august varied company.

    • Denton Scratch

      “Poignant” just means fist-like. Is there some second meaning, that I’ve missed?

  • EoH

    More puffery from the Guardian. “Diplomatic immunity no longer applies to Anne Sacoolas, Foreign Office says.”

    The FO statement is misdirection. It assumes immunity existed. If it did, it would apply only in the UK, never in the US. It and the Guardian also ignore that if immunity existed, it would continue to apply to acts that occurred while it existed. That is, if Anne Sacoolas was the driver and had immunity when the accident occurred near RAF Croughton, a local court in her home country would have jurisdiction over her, but not over an act that occurred in a place that had validly granted her immunity.

    Mr. Trump’s stumble when “confirming” that she was the driver suggests that’s what his staff told him. But because he’s Trump, it also suggests that he was briefed on a legend and that he blurted it out so as not to forget it. At best, none of this is transparent, as it easily could and should be.

  • Gary

    Well, Sky News are now reporting a letter from Dominic Raab saying that Anne Sacoolas does NOT (now) have diplomatic immunity. This hinges on her having returned home where diplomatic immunity is no longer valid, therefore the family can now expect her to be extradited.

    Another small point in this is that their article states that diplomatic immunity was granted AFTER the accident took place. Therefore, as I understand it, she is NOT immune from prosecution over the accident itself ONLY over leaving the UK without submitting to the legal process surrounding the accident AFTER immunity was granted.

    So, without admitting they were lying (or at least wrong, the governments of both UK and US have found a way to allow for her prosecution (should that be deemed correct) in the UK and therefore take the attention away from firstly, her husband’s activities and secondly their lies and subterfuge over this tragedy. If they had simply allowed the law to take it’s course it would barely have raised an eyebrow, never mind made news internationally.

    I don’t know whether credit is due in full, or just in part to you, Craig but nevertheless you have played your part in the potential for justice to be had for the family of the young man who died. Whilst it won’t bring him back it WILL make a vast difference to the family. Many years ago I lost my daughter (circumstances very different) but I was just as powerless against those who were to blame. Not getting justice burned a hole in me, and still does. You have no idea how much this will help them.

    However, it’s not over yet. I see in the report that Anne Sacoolas has an excellent lawyer. She has “reached out” to the family and asked to meet them (I’m assuming in the US?) where they can hear her apologies and ask any questions of her that they wish. A “family spokesman” has gushed about this (is this the establishment representative you referred to?) No doubt this has been done to ‘manage’ the situation with the hope the family won’t push further. The report DOES say that Sacoolas WILL now cooperate with authorities but it doesn’t say WHERE she will be when she does so. I do think she has a conscience and that the decision was taken out of her hands and she was ordered to leave for the US. But, now that she’s in the US will she prioritise her own best interests or will she actually decide to return to the UK of her own free will. Even with a conscience this is still a difficult thing to do.

    Thanks to you, Craig, this MIGHT be resolved properly now. I do hope so…

    • N_

      Anne Sacoolas is insulting the Dunn family by suggesting that she’s willing to meet them, but only in the US – because she doesn’t want to face justice in the country she ran away from.

      Mr and Mrs Dunn should tell her to eff off and that if she wants to apologise she knows their address, and she’s welcome to phone them and they can arrange a mutually acceptable time for her to come round. Also if she wants to contact them about anything she should do it directly and in private.

      Anne Sacoolas may have an excellent lawyer. Unfortunately this can’t rightly be said about the Dunn family.

      The Brits probably think the Dunns can be bought off with some comfortable seats on the aeroplane and a night in a nice hotel.

      • N_

        Imagine if you accidentally drove into someone’s wall and damaged it, but for some reason you had to rush somewhere, so you didn’t have time to apologise, explain yourself, and compensate the person. Would you tell the media you’re “willing to meet them” if they travel thousands of miles to see you? That’s how Sacoolas behaves when she kills human beings and gets exposed. Please can no-one say the Dunns have a good lawyer. They don’t.

        • Mosaic

          I agree. It would be very demeaning for the Dunns to meet with Sacoulas in the USA.
          Such a meeting can only have bad consequences for the Dunns. Sacoulas will get expensive legal and PR advice as to how to turn such a ;meeting in her favor. It will be a media circus.
          The Duns should tell Sacoulas’s handlers: We’d be glad to accommodate your wish to meet with us AFTER you have submitted yourself to the British justice system. In the goodness of our hearts we might take pity on you and listen, then, to whatever it is you want to say to use.

          We are not traveling 3,000 miles to become part of a media circus that will just make is harder for us to get justice for Harry. You can write us a letter.

          It is *in court* that the defendant has an opportunity to apologize to the victim’s family and express remorse. If the judge finds the defendant’s remorse to be sincere and genuine, he or she, can then mitigate the harshness of the sentence.

        • Denton Scratch

          Stevens is definitely a hot-shot though; he’s been winning civil suits since I was a child (I’m 63).

  • Stewart

    I normally dismiss your articles, as on the subject of Scottish independence you are a bit unhinged

    However this is an excellent article which is relevant and should be more widely known

    On this piece, well done

    • MJ

      “on the subject of Scottish independence you are a bit unhinged”

      Especially when he starts talking about UDI I feel.

      • N_

        He’s as batty as a fruitcake on that issue. Imagine declaring independence unilaterally on 37% of the vote and with so many police officers loyal to the UDA and the Orange Order. They probably wouldn’t get to control the whole of Princes Street, let alone the whole country. Other Scottish nationalists here have said English people are congenitally feudalist, unlike Scots who are congenitally freedom loving (then they say their nationalism isn’t racist!); that Scottish nationalism is better than other countries’ nationalisms; that Scottish nationalism isn’t nationalist, and so on. Enough patently obviously nutty and specious sh*t to fill a basket. Deep down they surely know they’re full of it – I assume they’re not auditioning for a new episode of Monty Python – but tell ’em and they will dig in. They think you look down your nose at them. Meanwhile the black girl who works in my local Tesco’s still always has a shorter queue than all her colleagues. Mustn’t talk about Scotland’s real problems, especially if you’re an immigrant or a member of one of the ethnic or national minorities. Mustn’t walk about as if you’ve got the right to have a say over stuff – unless you back the nationalistic cause of course.

        • Denton Scratch

          “He’s as batty as a fruitcake on that issue”

          Bats come from belfries: one says “He’s bats in the belfry”, or just “he’s bats”.

          The phrase you were looking for is “nutty as a fruitcake”. I realise that in theory a fruitcake might not always contain nuts, but a Dundee cake definitely has more nuts in it than fruit.

          So let’s try to stay a little bit Scottish, kay? 🙂

          I’m not sure where Craig is from; I suspect he’s from Glasgie, and not Dundee. My forbears hailed from Glasgie. Me, I’m just a sassenach trouble-maker, never lived in Scotland. Wha hae wi Wallace bled. Yah.

      • Ort

        We also would have accepted:

        Stewart, I normally dismiss your comments, as on the subject of Scottish independence you are a bit unhinged.

        However, except for the first sentence, this is an excellent comment which is relevant and should be more widely known.

        On this comment, well done!

      • Ingwe

        Hear Hear Hatuey. Who here gives a stuff what Stewart thinks? I think he’s an authority on “unhinged”.

          • Denton Scratch

            Yeah, a tribe of insane psychopaths. I’m a Stewart. Read Lord Macaulay about James Stewart, the sixth of Scotland; it’s out of copyright (i.e. it’s on the net, and free), and it’s like cheap whisky (i.e. it burns when you consume it).

            Most of Macaulay’s writing is quite dull, but there’s several pages of stuff about James Stewart that burn like fire. He’s also good on the Monmouth Rebellion, and the Bloody Assizes that followed it (James executed the Duke of Monmouth, despite the Duke’s grovelling apology).

        • N_

          Regarding Scottish nationalism and the scale of the problems with racism and xenophobia in the country, the people to ask are of course those who belong to Scotland’s ethnic and national minorities. That’s the same in any country. And I don’t mean politicians or grant grabbers, whose job it is to purvey bullsh*t. Anyone whose hackles were raised by what I just said is a xenophobe and probably a racist, and should take a damned good look at themselves and the people they hang out with too.

  • Hatuey

    I hate to repeat myself but I think most of you if not all, including Craig, have missed something and possibly been misled.

    Please bear in mind that none of us would be discussing diplomatic immunity and the role played by Mr Sacoolas, as a spy or whatever, if his wife had cooperated in full with the police investigation rather than fled.

    And it’s reasonable to ask why they chose to leave the country rather than cooperate with an investigation into a tragic accident. Most of us have assumed that the investigation would at worst have resulted in her being accused of carelessness. This is my starting point. Why did they flee?

    But, what if the reason for fleeing had nothing to do with the spying game or diplomatic relations? What if the reason for fleeing was simply that Mrs Sacoolas was driving illegally in violation of road traffic laws? That’s a whole different ballgame.

    It has been suggested that Mrs Sacoolas had only been in the UK for 3 weeks. Can we assume she sat her UK driving test in that time? If not, that would surely mean she was driving illegally and without insurance.

    Most Americans drive automatic cars. Does anyone know if the car Mrs Sacoolas was driving was manual or automatic when the accident happened? If it was a manual, I’d venture to say that it is unlikely that she had a licence — very few Americans bother learning to drive manual cars.

    This is the only explanation that makes sense to me; that the reason they fled was down to some sort of road traffic violation. If true, the whole debate about the CIA and diplomatic immunity is a red herring.

    • Barry O'Barma

      “If not, that would surely mean she was driving illegally and without insurance”
      -> Have you never driven abroad on your UK license? Americans hire cars and drive using their US license.

      • Hatuey

        Sure, but if I am only licenced to drive an automatic in the UK, I wouldn’t be able to drive a manual abroad.

        • N_

          @Hatuey – you’re right that a British automatic-only licence doesn’t allow a person to drive a manual. But are you sure the US has automatic-only licences? Or do they just have “car licences”? It might vary from state to state. Perhaps the position is that someone who has only ever driven an automatic can get their licence in the US and then come to Britain and lawfully drive a manual. (And then we have to wonder how many people have been killed in Britain by untrained US citizens trying to work a clutch having never used one before.)

          Another question is what side was the steering wheel in the car that was allegedly being driven by Anne Sacoolas? If it was on the right, she would have been far less likely to forget what side of the road she should have been on.

          Has her job been revealed yet?

          She had three children at the very expensive Winchester House school. Very probably other CIA and NSA families send their offspring there. Some will probably have kidnap and ransom insurance policies. Insurers lay down conditions. You can’t get a policy if you expect to wander wherever you want without any safeguards. Harry Dunn’s father, Tim Dunn, works at that school as head of maintenance. Was he vetted? If so, who by?

        • Mosaic

          Just checked for restriction codes on a Mass license.
          Code E: If the driver takes the Skills Test in a vehicle that has an automatic transmission, then an “E” no manual transmission restriction is placed on their license. (I passed the test lo, those many decades ago–with a manual, so that code has never appeared on my license.
          So, yes, good question as to whether there was a problem with her license .

          Normally the first thing you have to show after an accident is your license, and they police go to their computers in their vehicle and check it with the database. Maybe they couldn’t get into the US database and the Americans decided to get her out of the country before they could do any checking. Certainly the details of her license should be made public. Maybe her license had expired. She is resident in Virginia. Virginia also has the manual transmission restriction. But, I think that most Volvos are automatic, non? Do they even make a manny tranny anymore?

    • Harry Law

      If you are visiting the UK, you will be fine to use your US licence for up to 12 months so long as you’ve passed your driving test and are over the age of 17.

        • glenn_nl

          Actually yes – they make no distinction in the test there between “shift-stick” cars – which are relatively rare – to automatic cars. It does vary a bit from state to state, but this is certainly the case in those I lived in.

          • N_

            @Glenn – When you say they make no distinction, does that mean that someone can get their licence in the US having never used a clutch pedal, and knowing no “theory” about how to use one – knowing absolutely nothing whatsoever in either theory or practice about clutch pedals and gearsticks – and then they can come to Britain and lawfully drive a manual-transmission car?

          • N_

            @Hatuey – I am a bit sceptical as to whether an insurance company will insure a person to drive a manual-transmission car who may never have been in one before, let alone driven one.

            Green news: it recently came to my attention that modern cars often display upward pointing arrows to advise drivers to change to a higher gear and thereby “reduce emissions”. I wonder how many people get killed because of this, given that changing to a higher gear usually reduces your control over the car.

          • glenn_nl

            H: To be compliant with the law, sure. I wonder what the arrangements are – I imported an American car back to the UK, and had to convert the lights etc. to make them UK compliant before driving it here. (Actually took Craig for a spin in it a couple of times, in case anyone thinks I’m just full of BS and making everything up – ask him.) You couldn’t simply have an American car drive directly on the road, unless it was the Presidential vehicle with its entourage I suppose. But you can temporarily drive in each others’ country with a standard licence – usually it would be a hire car which comes with its own insurance.

            But who knows? According to the BBC etc. now, there are tens of thousands of people running around the country entirely unencumbered by the law. So maybe they don’t have to bother with licences, tax or insurance either. Perhaps questions about this should be raised in Parliament – this is obviously a significant liability.

          • glenn_nl

            N: “… knowing absolutely nothing whatsoever in either theory or practice about clutch pedals and gearsticks – and then they can come to Britain and lawfully drive a manual-transmission car?”

            Absolutely. It’s not just in Britain, either – same is true in France, Germany, Holland and probably other EU countries (I can only speak to those listed from first hand experience). It’s a horrible experience, I should add, being in a car with someone causing serious damage to the gearbox, and driving erratically, having no idea what they’re doing, because their only experience is with an automatic in America.

            Giving someone on-the-job training about how, exactly, they should use a clutch and gear-stick is not rewarding either. I usually found myself grimacing and swearing, and clenching my fists (and everything else) at their incompetence.

          • Mosaic

            What state did you live in?

            Mass and Virginia both have restrictions if you took the driving test with an automatic. I suspect most other states have the same restriction. Otherwise it would be a huge headache for the insurance companies.

          • Mosaic

            Glenn: Not sure about making “compliant”—surely most cars have the same basic features such as headlights, turn indicators, etc. Back in the day I drove a German VW bus all over London—not adapted in any way for the UK. Actually, I also drove my own Deux Chevaux Diane, which I had driven up from Germany, all over the UK for a couple of years, with no “compliance” issues. Maybe I was just flying under the radar in both cases. The joke there was that after driving accident-free for years in the USA, Germany, and the UK, the Brits flunked me when I took their bloody test! In a British vehicle with manual trans.

            But, no, I believe others on this thread are misinformed if they think you can legally drive a manual in the USA if you tested on an automatic.

          • glenn_nl

            Hello Mosaic, and thanks for writing,

            I’m taking it that you’re American? Hope you’ll forgive the anti-Imperialist sentiment you might on occasion find around here, it’s nothing personal. Personally, I found Americans to be the most decent and welcoming people. It’s our governments that let us down.

            Anyway… if you drive a European continent compliant vehicle in the UK, the headlights will dip to the wrong side of the road, dazzling on-coming traffic. The same British vehicles would in the reverse situation.

            You can probably get away with it in daylight, it’s not legal, though.

            About the automatic licence – if it was an issue, I’m surprised nobody mentioned it was a problem to Americans driving hire cars in Europe.

            In addition, I did not sit any test in a manual car in the US, despite passing well enough to purchase and insure a sports/touring car which definitely was stick-shift (and covered 30-odd states). So when would this restriction for automatics-only ever come into play?

          • Mosaic

            “An automatic transmission, and you are applying for your first CDL, you will be given an E restriction.”

            ” Can I take a road test with a vehicle that has an automatic transmission?

            Yes you can, but you will have a restriction added to your CDL license”

            “E restriction. Allows ONLY the operation of a motor vehicle with an automatic transmission.”

            Sounds like it is Code E throughout.

          • Mosaic

            “So when would this restriction for automatics-only ever come into play?”

            As you say, some people—maybe, um, teenagers???—don’t know their own limitations.
            But not only teenagers.

            I once got a good price on a manual Subaru because the seller/owner—she had bought it new and maintained it meticulously— but had to sell it for a reason—was so relieved that I actually knew how to drive it. I had been preceded by two eager buyers each of whom got behind the wheel and proceeded to put her pristine baby through the lurching, gear-grinding horror you described.

            Re imperialism, that’s so sweet coming from a Brit!
            I certainly hope I am not the only American who follows Craig Murray’s estimable blog.

          • Paul Barbara

            @ glenn_nl October 14, 2019 at 03:26
            ‘…Anyway… if you drive a European continent compliant vehicle in the UK, the headlights will dip to the wrong side of the road, dazzling on-coming traffic. The same British vehicles would in the reverse situation….’
            There are plastic or glass lenses that you put on the headlights, which switch the beam direction to the other side. I used these when driving my British layout cars in Europe. I think they were obligatory.

          • glenn_nl

            Paul: I know, given that I use them pretty much all the time. That’s why I specifically said _compliant_ . If the lights are set for the continent, they will not be suitable for the UK, and visa-versa.

            The plastic strips certainly don’t make the lights magically point to the other side of the road, rather they block the light going to the ‘wrong’ side of the road

        • Mosaic

          “According to the BBC etc. now, there are tens of thousands of people running around the country entirely unencumbered by the law. So maybe they don’t have to bother with licences, tax or insurance either.”

          There are a lot of “underinsured” drivers in the USA, to the extent that one is advised to get extra coverage for the event that some idiot runs into you and has no insurance. A friend of mine recently had a fairly serious accident, a head-on collision. At fault was a Brazilian fellow, speeding, wrong lane, likely illegal, with no license, vehicle unregistered, hence no insurance. She could have been much more seriously injured than she was, but her car was totaled.

    • Denton Scratch

      “That’s a whole different ballgame.”

      Well, yeah. She’d be facing time served, and a fine of maybe a monkey. Your point was?

      Like, I don’t understand why she ran; but your comment hasn’t enlightened me. I still think she’s just yeller, and doesn’t want to face a court.

  • Barry O'Barma

    I suspect that both governments believe that Mr & Mrs Sacoolas are covered under the Visiting Forces Act of 1952

    The US has a long history of repatriating its military personnel from the UK when they commit crimes, using the VFA as cover.

    Why they are claiming Diplomatic immunity is bewildering. Perhaps the people have been so dumbed down that they cannot understand the VFA.

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