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How could she just fly away?

Virtually the whole of the United Kingdom is currently incensed about the behaviour of the wife of an American diplomat who killed a young man and is claiming diplomatic immunity to escape the consequences.

The facts of the case seem simple enough. A 19-year-old motorcyclist was driving along a road in Northamptonshire when he was hit head-on by a car that was on the wrong side of the road. It had just turned on to the road after leaving an air base that belongs to the US Air Force, and the car was being driven by the wife of someone who lives at the base and has diplomatic credentials.

The woman was questioned by police officers and made it clear that she had no intention of leaving country in the near future, but this is precisely what she has now done, flying back to the States a day or so later.

International law allows immunity from prosecution to accredited diplomats and close family members. In practice, this has been used in the past for relatively minor matters in the UK, such as avoiding fines for illegal parking, but this case is very different.

What this woman has done – through her own carelessness – is take the life of a young man who was doing absolutely nothing wrong. She, on the other hand, can get away scot-free, simply because of who her husband is.

Needless to say, strong protests are being made at the highest level, but there is nothing to suggest that the immunity will be waived or that justice will be served.

  • In general, do you support the principle of diplomatic immunity?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Do you think that there should be limits as to how far this should go?

    • Yes
    • No
  • 3 Should the woman in question be forced to return to the UK to face the music?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Should the woman in question be forced to return to the UK to face the music?

    • Yes
    • No

What do you think?

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12 Comments

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  1. It is not just people with diplomatic immunity that get away with a hit and run in New Zealand . We get people hitting pedestrians here and they get away with it
    Yes they get caught but in the end just a smack on the wrist…
    Especially if they are rich and can hire an expensive lawyer.

    The woman should go back to the UK and be made to face the music

    • Not quite murder – causing death by dangerous driving – but the result is the same as far as the victim is concerned. I suppose the only real sanction we have in the UK is to withdraw the husband’s diplomatic status, but seeing as they have already left the country, that won’t have much effect.

  2. wow there is a lot to unpack here.

    1. if the UK forces the US to remove immunity, what prevents the US from doing the same?
    2. The reality of diplomatic immunity is it is the only way diplomacy can be conducted in many countries.
    3. what happened was wrong. That family deserves closure.

    The reality of this situation is bad on so many levels.

    • It is a question of removing the immunity for this single case and not to set a precedent.

      Had the death been caused in this manner by almost anyone else leaving the air base, the question of diplomatic immunity would not have arisen and the law would have taken its course. The family of the victim therefore feel cheated and the impression is conveyed that the United States government cares absolutely nothing about the harm caused by certain of its citizens abroad.

      One complaint is that the woman in question has not even issued an apology – surely that is not too much to ask?

      • just to be clear, it would be a precedent regardless.

        But you are right, this was handled very poorly by the US Embassy. Not our first faux pax globally right now.

        I do think the least the US should do is have the person issue an apology. that is the least, I do believe they should also at the least do something for the family.

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