Shock, outrage as U.S. woman claims diplomatic immunity after fatal crash in UK

(Screenshot from Facebook)

The spouse of a U.S. diplomat is prompting outrage after returning to the United States following a deadly crash in the United Kingdom that claimed the life of a 19-year-old British subject.

The identity of the diplomat and his wife have not been released, but the young man who died in the August 27 accident has been identified as Harry Dunn, according to NBC News.

Police say Dunn was traveling on a motorcycle when he collided with a Volvo XC90 traveling in the opposite direction — that vehicle was being driven by a 42-year-old American woman.

The State Department said in a statement: “We express our deepest sympathies and offer condolences to the family of the deceased in the tragic Aug. 27 traffic accident involving a vehicle driven by the spouse of a U.S. diplomat assigned to the United Kingdom.”

The statement confirmed that the family has left the U.K., NBC reported. The release also noted that the waiving of diplomatic immunity is “rarely” done.

“Any questions regarding a waiver of immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive careful attention at senior levels are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry; immunity is rarely waived.

“We cannot speculate on what actions the British Government may take. While we are in close consultation with the appropriate British officials, we cannot comment on private diplomatic conversation with the British Government.”

Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Sarah Johnson said in a statement shared online that the American woman said at the time she had no plans to leave the country in the near future.

Investigators met with the woman the day after the crash.

“During the course of that meeting we were aware that diplomatic immunity had been raised as an issue, we then made immediate application for a waiver in order for us to undertake further investigations and interview,” Johnson told NBC News.

Diplomatic immunity is not only extended to the holders of diplomatic passports, but also family of embassy and consulate staffers. It is a form of legal protection awarded to diplomats via international law to allow them to avoid the force of the law in their host countries, Sky News reports.

The devastated parents of the deceased teen believe they are being deprived of justice in this case.

“[With] the terrible news that the other driver has left the country, seemingly in an attempt to evade justice, we are totally deprived of the ability to grieve and our lives are now painfully on hold,” said the mother, Charlotte Charles, according to the Daily Mail.

Screengrab Sky News – Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles (L), father Tim Dunn

“I bear the other driver no ill will,” Charles added. “She must be suffering too given what she did, but she must return to the UK to face justice. It is only at that point that my family and I will be able to begin to put our lives back together and move forward from this needless tragedy.”

The grieving mother also appealed to President Donald Trump to intervene, according to Sky News.

“President Trump, please listen. We’re a family in ruin. We’re broken,” Charles told the outlet. “We can’t grieve. Please, please let her get back on a plane.’

A number of British officials have commented on the case on social media.

Andrea Leadsom, a Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire and secretary of state for business, took to Twitter to call for justice.

“This is an utter tragedy & my heart goes out to the family and friends of Harry Dunn, who rightly want to get the justice he deserves. I have spoken to the Foreign Secretary and to Stephen Mold, Northants PCC, who have promised to do everything they can to get justice done,” she tweeted.

Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner also weighed in on Twitter.

“My son is 22 and this story has really got to me as I cannot even imagine the pain this family is going through,” she tweeted. “How can anyone just leave the U.K. and not at least try and take some responsibility for the loss of this beautiful young life.”

Here’s a sampling of other responses to the story from Twitter:

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Tom Tillison

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