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 https://news.sky.com/story/husband-of-us-woman-granted-diplomatic-immunity-not-registered-diplomat-11830734. 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.

ENDS

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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  • Michael Fitzpatrick

    Thanks you Craig for an excellent, clear and forensic analysis of this case. The UK Govmt. appears to be backing down a little as the Dunns arrive in the US and appear to be able to meet with Mrs Sacoolas. One sincerely hopes that they achieve some kind of mollifying closure – though the loss of their son will surely be ever-painfully present for them.

  • Laguerre

    I don’t understand Raab’s letter “Diplomatic immunity no longer applies to Anne Sacoolas, Foreign Office says.” Sure she doesn’t have it now she is back in the States. The issue is whether she had immunity at the moment of the accident. Whether she has it now or not is irrelevant. If she had it at the time, she can’t be prosecuted, or extradited, unless immunity is waived. Raab’s letter seems poorly drafted.

    • Iain Stewart

      Tatanya, you are too kind 🙂
      As a teenager I used to enjoy hearing Radio Moscow’s English language news telling me in a very solemn voice about the strikes, power cuts and food shortages that were ravaging Great Britain, along with the floods, train crashes and epidemics, that somehow in my foolish youth I hadn’t noticed under my very nose. Perhaps it was an incredibly advanced warning of Brexit.

      • Hatuey

        I believe you can still get radio Moscow on SW. I used to listen to it too. Then there was Voice of America which was actually okay sometimes too.

        I miss listening to SW. I was usually stoned when I did. I miss being stoned too.

      • Tatyana

        Actually Moscow has nothing to do with the fact that the Ukrainian prosecutor told american ‘The Hill’ about the US ambassador in Ukraine..

        Wiki says Radio Moscow stopped broadcasting in 1993. Well, Iain, I’m glad you experienced a few nostalgic moments. USSR seems to have contributed a lot to your worldview.

        • Iain Stewart

          “Wiki says Radio Moscow stopped broadcasting in 1993. Well, Iain, I’m glad you experienced a few nostalgic moments. USSR seems to have contributed a lot to your worldview.”

          Actually, it was hardly nostalgic, even at the time (unless there is some hidden paradox, such as ‘anticipatory nostalgia’ implied in your comment) but those broadcasts always cheered me up, no doubt because of their nice jingle. Of course, I’d love to learn in what ways you imagine the USSR might seem to have contributed to my ‘worldview’ assuming I have such a thing, which would probably be carefree and optimistic if such a thing can still be admitted to 🙂

  • exiled off mainstreet

    The colonial era has rebooted and the centre of the empire is in New York and Washington. This case reveals that Britain needs to declare independence from the septic tank empire; we can refer to this move as “septsit”. However, the question of the centre of this new septic empire is doubtful, since MI6 seems to help the CIA run things in the septic pile itself.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ exiled off mainstreet October 13, 2019 at 18:51
      And NY,DC and London in turn seem inordinately responsive to Middle East blackmailers and bribers.

    • Skyfall

      The Wayback version and the current version share the same URL and there are enough overlaps to show its the same story, but there are major differences. The editor must’ve used a lot of red ink on this one.

      Title (original):

      Husband of US woman granted diplomatic immunity ‘not registered diplomat’

      Title (new):

      Dominic Raab urges US to ‘do the right thing’ over diplomat’s wife involved in fatal crash

      Subtitle (same in both):

      Anne Sacoolas is believed to have been involved in a car crash that killed British teenager Harry Dunn.

      Publication details (original):

      By Dominic Waghorn, diplomatic editor, and Alix Cubertson, news reporter

      Tuesday 8 October 2019 16:53, UK

      Publication details (new):

      Wednesday 9 October 2019 09:16, UK

      Deleted:

      The husband of the American woman granted diplomatic immunity following a fatal car crash was not registered as a diplomat, a lawyer has told Sky News.

      Jonathan Sacoolas, whose wife Anne flew to the US after British teenager Harry Dunn was killed in a car crash she is believed to have been involved in, is not on the published list of accredited diplomats in the UK.

      He also worked at an intelligence base rather than a diplomatic mission, but both the US and UK governments have called him a diplomat.

      Inserted:

      Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged the US to “reconsider its position” on granting diplomatic immunity to an American woman who was involved in a car crash that killed a British teenager.

      Mr Raab met the US ambassador on Tuesday to request Anne Sacoolas, who flew to the US after the fatal crash in Northamptonshire in August, be returned to the UK.

      In a statement, a Foreign Office spokesman told Sky News: “The foreign secretary met with the US ambassador today and urged the US to reconsider its position and do the right thing by Harry Dunn’s family.”

      Same in both:

      Harry Dunn died after his motorbike was involved in a crash with Anne Sacoolas.

      Deleted:

      International lawyer Mark Stephens told Sky News that these details had been confirmed to him by the Foreign Office.

      It seems likely therefore that Mr Sacoolas is not entitled to diplomatic immunity.

      Revised:

      Mrs Sacoolas, 42, left the UK not long after the death of Harry Dunn, 19, which police believe happened when she pulled out on to the wrong side of the road as she emerged from RAF Croughton on 27 August.

      Earlier, the Foreign Office disputed claims that her husband Jonathan Sacoolas was not a registered diplomat and that she was therefore not eligible for the protections afforded to her.

      International lawyer Mark Stephens told Sky News that Mr Sacoolas was not on the published list of accredited diplomats in the UK, but the Foreign Office insisted he was an accredited diplomat in the eyes of the British government and his wife was entitled to diplomatic immunity.

      Deleted:

      He may have been protected by a bilateral agreement between the UK and US, affording certain protections to American intelligence operatives in the UK and the bases they work in.

      But that is different to the diplomatic immunity granted by the Vienna Convention, which is enshrined in international law.

      Revised:

      He said he may have instead been protected by a bilateral agreement between the UK and US, affording certain protections to American intelligence operatives in the UK and the bases they work in.

      That would have been different to the immunity granted by the Vienna Convention – a distinction Mr Stephens said would have meant the Foreign Office and police may have been wrong in allowing Mrs Sacoolas to leave.

      Same:

      Mr Stephens told Sky News: “There is a treaty between the two governments.

      “That treaty though doesn’t bind Northamptonshire Police and it doesn’t bind the family of this poor boy who was deceased, and as a consequence of that they can apply for her extradition to come back to face manslaughter charges.”
      [the words “of that” do not appear in Version 2]

      Deleted:

      The distinction has significant implications for the case beyond that.

      It means the Foreign Office and police may have been wrong in allowing Mrs Sacoolas to leave the country.

      Inserted:

      The mother of Harry Dunn has told Sky News of the pain and suffering her family is going through.

      Harry’s parents told Sky News on Monday they want Mrs Sacoolas to return to the UK to apologise face-to-face.

      Mr Stephens indicated that the family of Harry Dunn may have other options to pursue.

      He said: “Now she’s returned to the US, the family are entitled to sue her.

      Same:

      “This isn’t about money, this is about them understanding an explanation of how she came to kill their son, and I think the British government – if they’re not going to repatriate her – should actually be funding the family to sue in America so they can get the explanation they so richly deserve.”

      When asked for comment, the US Embassy told Sky News it “has nothing at this time”.

      Inserted:

      Meanwhile, a crowdfunding page set up for the family of Harry has reached its £10,000 target.

      The GoFundMe page, called “Justice 4 Harry”, is intended to help the family begin their “campaign to search for justice” and to help Harry’s twin brother Niall.

      It reads: “This funding page is being set up to help the family and his twin brother Niall through these traumatic times and to build up a fund as the family embark on a campaign to search for justice for Harry as the legal process unfolds.”

      Are these updates, corrections or redactions? You decide …

      • Andrew Ingram

        @Skyfall
        Well done.Instead of beating your head against thon brick wall, you’ve chipped at it. Again, well done.

      • pete

        Thanks for looking into this, the changes are quite radical and raise a host of questions as to why they have been altered, since they are apparently not corrections, amongst the issues they raise are why the original authors credits have been removed.

  • Brendan

    The British establishment must be really regretting this whole affair, and not just because of the bad publicity that it is creating for themselves and their American allies. By helping Mrs Sacoolas escape justice, they’ve blown the cover of what is very likely to be their spy station in Croughton, which was supposed to be just an RAF base.

    Up until now, anyone wondering about the giant ‘golf-ball’ domes there might conclude that they house military radar antennae, as you expect in an air force base. Purely military and run only by Her Majesty’s forces, you would think. The explanatory note at the end of the bye-laws document for that area (see link in Craig’s article) gives that clear impression.

    Any Americans working there would be assumed to be civilian contractors, since they don’t wear Air Force uniforms. But lately the FCO told us that Mr Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity, which means that he works for the USA in some official capacity.

    If the Croughton base had been an American military one, no questions would have been asked about what he was doing there. But the claiming of ‘diplomatic immunity’ because he worked at an ‘RAF base’ now draws attention to his role in Croughton. It appears that Mr Sacoolas (and maybe his wife too) was doing what Craig suspects – spying on British citizens. As an American, he could be used in order to get around the restrictions on the UK spying on its own citizens (the data he helped to gather could be shared with British spooks).

    • Cascadian

      “they’ve blown the cover of what is very likely to be their spy station in Croughton, which was supposed to be just an RAF base”.

      You would have to be quite naive to thinks so – any GA pilot knows, from the aviation maps provided by our own CAA, that there is an exclusion zone around Croughton extending up to 6,000 feet AGL. Normal RAF bases just have an ATZ and a MATZ both of which combined only extend to 3,000 feet AGL.

      It is very obviously a telecommunications monitoring station, and has been for decades. This much is obvious to anyone who drives by it on the A43 between Towcester and Oxford.

      • Yr Hen Gof

        Agreed, there won’t be many people between Dunstable and Coventry, or Northampton and Oxford that don’t know what goes on at RAF Croughton or indeed FCO Hanslope either (although different, they both serve similar ends)

      • Denton Scratch

        Oh, I see; it’s that huge pasta sieve, hundreds of feet above the ground. I had no idea that was supposed to be an airbase; I always assumed it was a radio listening station.

  • pretzelattack

    i guess “diplomat” is like “national security”, an extremely flexible term used to justify anything.

    • Hatuey

      I can’t imagine how they’d weaponise this if the diplomat happened to be from Germany or Brussels.

  • N_

    It looks like John Sacoolas is CIA not NSA. (Source: Guardian/a: “Jonathan Sacoolas, Anne’s husband, who was employed at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, is understood to work for the CIA”.)

    What is Anne’s job?

    Could she have thought it was an assassination or kidnapping attempt?

    The family should sack lawyer Mark Stephens right now: “It must be a meeting without politicians and spin doctors, a personal meeting with psychological counsellors so the Dunn family can find out what happened in the final moments of their son’s life.”

    • Ken Kenn

      A few questions for those in the know.

      The accident was on the 27/8/19?

      When did Mrs Sacoolas and ‘ family ‘ go back to the US?

      It doesn’t look like a quick decision unless he went the following day?

      If it wasn’t a quick decision then it must have been a considered decision?

      If so – apart from the family who was in on the considering?

      Have police taken a witness statement from Mrs Sacoolas?

      And apart form the young child in the front seat ( is that an offence in the UK? ) did the police note any other person(s) in the car or around the scene post accident?

      I’ve not seen any quotes from witnesses/pikers as you usually do in cases like this.

      A very strange tale for an accident – terrible though it is, it is an accident.

      • N_

        Good questions. Others include

        * Was anyone other than Harry Dunn injured and if so were they were taken to hospital?

        * What were Anne Sacoolas’s movements immediately after the crash?

        * Who called the emergency services?

        * What is Anne Sacoolas’s job? I know she was working for the US State Department when she got married, but that was years ago. What’s her job now?

        * Does anyone in the Sacoolas family have a kidnap and ransom insurance policy?

        * What tasks had either Jonathan or Anne been working on since arriving in Britain earlier that month?

        * What is Jonathan Sacoolas’s rank in the CIA?

        In Britain a child aged between 3 and12 may travel in either front or back and must sit on a booster seat and wear a seatbelt. If the car doesn’t have seatbelts (very unlikely, given this was a Volvo XC90) then they must sit in the back.

        Why do you finish by saying it was an accident? How do you know?

        • Hatuey

          When there’s a fatality in a road traffic accident, the police will investigate the scene and the vehicles involved thoroughly. I believe they have special traffic accident experts who are immediately activated and put on scene. Every last details would be documented, tyre condition, length of skid marks, road conditions, you name it.

          And as for the driver who is to blame for the accident, we can assume drug and alcohol testing, every imaginable check as to the legal worthiness of the driver(s), the condition of the car, all documentation, MOT certification, insurance, every single thing.

          I’d be surprised if this car and driver, a driver who had only arrived in this country three weeks prior to the accident, was entirely compliant.

          • N_

            In this case, did the police get access to the car? The crash has been widely described as a hit and run.

        • Bramble

          This is an American spy base. It must be festooned with cctv cameras, including ones keeping a close watch on entry and exit points. A lot of those questions could be answered if the base in question were to release the footage to the police. As if. Evidently American policy is to treat the law of the law they occupy with contempt.

        • Michael

          The fact a young lad and his parents, all British citizens in Britain, have fewer rights than an American spy in Britain shows just how far the US and its lame puppet the UK have sunk into authoritarianism since that false flag event in New York. The purpose of this cover-up was to hide how much each country spies on the citizens of each other to exchange the intelligence gathered, which is deceptive spy-talk meaning they spy on their own citizens. We knew all this anyway but still they try to deceive.

          The NATO troops the US insists joins it troops inside the countries bordering Russia means the US has rebuilt the Iron Curtain this time facing east, and the near-total control of our MSM means western news has become the old Soviet Pravda, all indicate the US is the new Soviet Union. Only this time because it’s of the right and not the left it’s even more hard-core, more brutal.

        • glenn_nl

          H: “I’m convinced there’s a driving offence at the root of all this. I also think we will find out soon.

          We put a government Cabinet Minister – and his wife – in jail, for a exceedingly minor, arguably even a technical offence, after breaking the law when driving. Nobody was hurt – a truly victimless crime.

          Shame we can’t bring some foreigner to task, for killing one of our nationals and then fleeing the scene. Well, we could – but not a foreigner of _this_ particular nationality.

          If this was a Russian, Iranian or North Korean perpetrator, I can barely imagine how these patriotic blow-hards would be swaggering around, demanding justice.

          What utter hypocritical cowards we have, supposedly as our great leaders.

          • Billy Brexit !

            The CB and wife were jailed for perverting justice by lying about the incident and who was driving.

          • Tom Welsh

            “If this was a Russian, Iranian or North Korean perpetrator, I can barely imagine how these patriotic blow-hards would be swaggering around, demanding justice”.

            They are not eager to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

            ‘My Ph.D. dissertation chairman, who became a high Pentagon official assigned to wind down the Vietnam war, in answer to my question about how Washington gets Europeans to always do what Washington wants replied: “Money, we give them money.” “Foreign aid?” I asked. “No, we give the European political leaders bagfuls of money. They are for sale. We bought them. They report to us.” Perhaps this explains Tony Blair’s $50 million fortune one year out of office’.

            – Paul Craig Roberts
            https://www.globalresearch.ca/americas-conquest-of-western-europe-is-europe-doomed-by-vassalage-to-washington/5538471

    • Sharp Ears

      A different case but the widow here complains of US impunity.

      ‘A CORONER has ruled that a British army officer who was run over in broad daylight by US troops in Iraq was killed because US troops were driving a giant forklift truck in a manner that was “inherently unsafe” and “entirely improper.”

      The two US soldiers involved in the death of Captain Dean Sprouting at Camp Havoc last January have snubbed the family and failed to attend his inquest at Oxford County Hall today.

      After the inquest, his widow Linda said the US soldiers were “fully to blame” and “need to be accountable for their actions.”

      She drew a comparison with the hit-and-run death of teenager Harry Dunn by the wife of a US diplomat outside a spy base in Croughton, Northamptonshire.’

      https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/its-wrong-%E2%80%93-widow-blasts-us-troops-impunity-coroner-rules-captains-death

  • Andrew Ingram

    And to think that the whole Brexit clusterfuck is about The UK taking back powers from The EU.
    Yet a young UK subject dies through the action of a US citizen and the victims government jumps through hoops to do the wrong thing.
    Ironic or what?

    • N_

      Look at it from the point of view of the British regime’s public relations. The story headlines British relations with the US rather than with the rest of the EU – tick. And it says to some people (not to us lot who come on here and read articles carefully) that the British regime can wag its finger at the US government – tick. Expect stories in the next two weeks about Australia and Canada too. Messages: 1) Britain has relationships worldwide; 2) Britain ain’t no country’s poodle.

      I’m not saying that’s all there is to it, but “clusterf*ck”?

      To an extent I’m playing devil’s advocate here.

  • squirrel

    I don’t know if anyone has suggested this, but maybe Anne Sacoolas’ son was driving the car and not simply a passenger.

  • Philip Townsend OBE

    Craig,
    Congratulations, your story got picked up by Zero Hedge. As a long-time poster to the Hedge, I did prompt them several times on the interesting aspects of this story beyond the tragic loss of an innocent young life; those being the Fake Diplomatic Immunity and the NSA/GCHQ aspects to the story:

    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/foreign-office-must-be-challenged-over-sacoolas-immunity

    Meanwhile, I note all the fine UK MSM continue to refer to Ms Sakoolas as “The wife of a US DIPLOMAT”, presumably as a result of official pressure if not a restricted “D-Notice”?

    • Tom Welsh

      I don’t think a D-notice can force media to publish anything untrue. Surely it can only be used to stop them publishing statements.

  • Sharp Ears

    Any record or reference to a post mortem and/ or an inquest being opened for Harry Dunn? I can’t find any.

    I keep thinking back to Dr David Kelly who died 16 years ago, just 30 miles away from Croughton.

    • N_

      I can’t find a reference to either an inquest or a funeral.

      There is far more about this case to come out.

    • squirrel

      that is strange. Surely there should be an inquest?

      It definitely seems that something is being hidden here.

  • Dom

    One more lesson in Britain’s true place in the world. Will be totally forgotten in the coming election campaign of course as 99p shop Churchills go into overdrive spluttering about buccaneering free trade and restored rule of the waves. Many will still choose to believe them.

    • Hatuey

      “Many will still CHOOSE to believe them.”

      We choose to believe lies, just as we choose our liars. Plausible deniability is important too though; and we reserve the right to pretend we actually believed the lies.

      Soak it up — it’s democracy, right?

      Yeah. I believe it is.

  • John Pillager

    “I have no idea where the ridiculous 23,000 figure for diplomatic immunity originates. Dominic Raab’s arse seems the best bet.”
    Highlight of this fantastic article.
    Thanks Craig :O)

    • N_

      It’s always open to civil servants to resign if they don’t like what a minister is doing. Let’s not let them off the hook.

      • michael norton

        Yes, great work Craig.
        Perhaps the more important point, is that it seems there are possibly thousands of persons from overseas roaming about Britain who are untouchable, this should be brought up in Parliament.

  • MJ

    “after no deal we can have a Labour Government”

    Yes, that must be the Establishment’s nightmare scenario. A Corbyn government unconstrained by EU law. A Corbyn government still in the EU would be just about tolerable.

    • nevermind

      MJ educate yourself about what Labour wants of the EU, they want a deal that is not disrupting peoples lifes amnd keeps us in a custom union.

  • Matthew Vallance

    I appreciate you will not like this idea Craig, but, there is a means whereby Mrs Sacoolas could be back in the UK within 24-hours. All that this would take would be for the Government to tell the Americans: “OK, send her back, or we release Julian Assange.”

    • Tom Welsh

      ‘All that this would take would be for the Government to tell the Americans: “OK, send her back, or we release Julian Assange.”’

      Matthew, that could not happen. Do you have any idea how many people’s retirement plans are tied up with Julian’s fate?

    • Mosaic

      ““OK, send her back, or we release Julian Assange.”
      I love it! As an idea.
      Although I hate to think of Julian Assange being used as a pawn of any kind.
      Julian should be released right now.

  • Andrew Roch

    Oft wrongly attributed to our old friend Eric Arthur (He of 1984 fame) but perhaps appropriate, ‘In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act’.

    I imagine re: the BBC (Biased Broadcasting Coorperation) that a complaint to OFCOM would be largely futile?

    Andrew Roch.

    • Billy Brexit !

      I understand the BBC only answer to themselves – OFCOM is for the likes of the commercial plebs – Two more dinosaurs needing a grave.

  • nevermind

    How is it possible that an unelected outfit, demanding no majority in the house, and without any ideas how to solve this self generated crisis that is splitting its party, can have the temerity to spring a queens speech on this ancient and far too long in the tooth monarchy?

    The police who arrested over 1200 climate activists, who took their medical aids, chargers, tents and batteries away to make them relent. Can they not arrest these snolly gosters who are treating this country as if it was their very own thief-dom, who unlawfully lord it over a far too long in the tooth union, they themselves have broken over their very own knees?

    It is the Lib Dems who are stopping the forming of an alternative Government, they have propped up the Tories for over ten years and are now delivering the country’s demise by playing politics like children playing in a sandbox full of cat shit.

  • Tom Welsh

    “…the decision not to waive immunity would have been taken right at the top of the State Department”.

    And who – or what – do we find “right at the top of the State Department”? Mike Pompeo.

    Mike ” We lied, we cheated, we stole” Pompeo.

  • Tom Welsh

    “Trump yesterday very carefully made the point that cameras had confirmed the identity of the driver…”

    Hmmmm. Which cameras? Operated by whom? And whose output might have been edited or manipulated by whom? And whose word do we have for any of that?

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    • Mark

      Presumably the cctv cameras right outside the gate of the military base. Given its role I’m pretty sure the perimeter most be covered with cameras.

      • Tom Welsh

        Yes. My point was that the cameras and the video recorded by them are probably controlled by the Americans. So really the supposed video recordings could be doctored to show almost anything at all – for i nstance, Donald Trump driving the car.

  • nevermind

    lets stay on topic
    Was Mrs. Sacoolas breathalized/drug tested by the police and or the stations military police, as is normal in UK traffic accidents today?
    Did the emergency services get informed by bystanders/witnesses to the accident, or by RAF Croughtons superior in charge?
    who informed the police/ambulance emergency crew and in what timespan?
    How long did it take from accident to the arrival of the emergency services?
    why did the police not speak out since the accident happened, were they contacted by the security services of either the US or UK?
    And, did these services express opinions on how to deal with this tragic accident?

    Any diversions to the above questions should be taken as a No answer.

    I think it would be wrong for the Dunn family to meet the accused in the US, it will be held against them, as will any sums they have been paid by newspapers, should this apply.

    Mrs. Sacoolas crocodile tears are ment for the media and the general public, if she has any real thoughts to air on her murder with a car, she should come back to the scene of the accident, the police station she had visited? and or the Dunn’s family.

    • Tom Welsh

      It would be nice, nevermind, if the UK had some kind of public news reporting services that could answer those questions for us.

      As it hasn’t, however, we must rely on the invaluable and much appreciated services of Mr Murray.

    • N_

      If someone wants to apologise, they’ve got to put themselves out, rather than insist that the other person travels thousands of miles to hear their oh-so-sincere apology. Apology doesn’t sit too well with acting as if you think you are God almighty. That’s obvious, or it should be.

      I don’t know what Anne Sacoolas’s job is. Perhaps she is CIA like her husband. I don’t know what either of them had been working on in Britain, although I could make a few guesses. She has certainly been protected by some powerful interests.

      Listen here, girl. If you crashed with a motorcyclist by accident and you want to apologise to his family, you contact them in writing and you humbly ask when would be a convenient time for you to visit them, on your own, in their house. You got that? That’s basic good manners. You wouldn’t want them to suspect you don’t give a damn about other people, right?

      • Tom Welsh

        “You wouldn’t want them to suspect you don’t give a damn about other people, right?”

        What part of “works for the US government” have you failed to understand?

        • N_

          Let’s point the finger at what that means in practice. Otherwise the generalisation becomes solely abstract.

  • Tom Welsh

    “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”.

    There seems to be an unfortunate typo in the above.

    “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 US security services”.

    FTFY. After all, the UK intelligence services have always (since 1940, anyway) been willing tools of the US intelligence services.

  • Tom Welsh

    “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”.

    Well, of course not! They are all secret, of course. Because terrorism, you know. Shhhhhhhhh!

    • N_

      If anyone knows of a publicly accessible and comprehensive collection of all Orders in Council passed since, ooh, say 1900 or 1940 or 1980, including ones that are “prerogative” rather than “statutory”, perhaps they could tell us where it is. Until they do, I will continue to suspect that some Orders in Council have never been made public. It is fact that not all of them are statutory instruments. The Privy Council itself boasts about this.

      It is also a fact that some international treaties are secret, including one that is highly relevant to “RAF Croughton”, even though secret international treaties are unlawful.

  • Tom Welsh

    “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”.

    I have known for most of my life that governments cynically exploit the unpaid labour of diplomatic wives and families, but this doctrine seems to add insult to injury.

    If an ambassador’s wife spends dozens of hours planning, organising and conducting a reception, a dinner party or a visit to the opera for appropriate official guests, is she not then engaged in an official duty? Is this valuable work on behalf of her husband’s government deemed to be merely a personal indulgence or hobby to keep her amused and out of trouble?

    • N_

      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“.

      Wrong. They are immune from criminal prosecution.

      Article 37 of the 1961 Vienna Convention: “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 .”

      Article 31: “A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State.”

      For administrative and technical staff and their families, it is only in the civil and administrative jurisdictions that there is the “course of official duties” test.

      It’s all in the 1961 Convention, for anyone who wants to read it.

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