Harry Dunn row: How UK police officer was murdered but killer claimed diplomatic immunity - The Libyan Report

Harry Dunn row: How UK police officer was murdered but killer claimed diplomatic immunity

Harry, 19, was struck by a car driving on the wrong side of the road on August 27 while riding his motorbike near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire. The main suspect in the case was US citizen Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a Government worker on the US spy base. After telling police she would not leave the country, Ms Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity from the US Embassy in London and then flew home.

Harry’s devastated parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dun issued a heartbreaking plea for Ms Sacoolas to return to the UK, but have heard nothing. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has refused to waive her diplomatic immunity. However, this is not the first time a British family has been refused justice due to diplomatic immunity, which allows diplomats to avoid facing court proceedings for crimes committed in their host country. In 1984, Metropolitan Police officer Yvonne Fletcher, 25, was shot dead by someone inside the Libyan embassy on St James’ Square. READ MORE: Dominic Raab implores US to 'reconsider' diplomat decision

Vyonne Fletcher was killed in 1984; Harry Dunn was killed in 2019

Harry Dunn's parents Charlotte and Tim

She and her fellow officers were monitoring an anti-Gaddafi protest outside the embassy organised by Libyan dissidents living in the UK. Not long after the protest started, shots were fired from inside the embassy, killing Yvonne and injuring 11 protestors. This resulted in an 11-day siege of the embassy, with armed police surrounding the People’s Bureau. Events soon spread to Libya, where 60 members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps surrounded the British embassy in Tripoli and started their own siege, trapping 25 members of staff inside, and arrested three British nationals on unspecified charges.

Metropolitan police marksmen in their position overlooking the Libyan Embassy during seige

However, British ambassador Oliver Miles manage to negotiate a lift on the siege in Tripli. Over the next week, five bombs were planted in London, four of which were diffused, the fifth of which exploded in Terminal 2 at Heathrow Airport – and police suspected Libyan bombers. Eventually, all those inside the Libyan embassy were granted diplomatic immunity and told to leave the country. After the diplomats from each country had left, diplomatic ties between the UK and Libya were severed completely. DON'T MISS

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A memorial is erected in St James's Square, London, to PC Yvonne Fletcher, 1st February 1985

Metropolitan policewomen photographed during a break in duties near the Libyan Embassy during seige

While it is not known exactly who the shooter was that killed Yvonne, it is known that she was shot from a first floor window on the west side of the front of the Libyan embassy. As police were unable to conduct a thorough investigation, there have been multiple names of potential suspects. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Libya arrested six British nationals, four of which they held for nine months. Two years after Yvonne’s murder, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said it factored into her decision to allow the US to bomb Libya from British military bases.

Relations between the UK and Libya continued to deteriorate with the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the warrants issued to two Libyan men in 1991 for it. Finally, in 1999 the Libyan government publicly accepted responsibility for Yvonne’s murder and agreed to pay £250,000 compensation to her family, as well as supporting an investigation into the murder. In 2007, British detective were allowed to travel to Libya and interviewed their main suspect following normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries. They spent seven weeks interviewing witnesses and suspects.

A television screen showing news footage of Metropolitan Police officers attending to Yvonne

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However, in 2009 – the same year Gaddafi apologised for Yvonne’s killing – it was revealed that during trade negotiations in 2006 an agreement was reached that Yvonne’s killer would not be extradited for trial in the UK. The Police Federation said they were “appalled and disgusted” by the decision but a spokesman for the Foreign Office denied there was a secret deal. He said: “Libyan law did not allow for extradition for trial in other countries so a trial in Libya was the only outcome that would reflect out determination to see justice done.” During the 2011 Libyan civil was it was reported the one of the alleged co-conspirators Abdulqadir al-Baghdadi has been killed in in-fighting among Gaddafi loyalists.

President Trump was spotted with a prompt card saying Ms Sacoolas will not return to the UK

In 2015, the Metropolitan Police arrested Dr Saleh Ibrahim Mabrouk, a former member of the Gaddafi regime who had claimed political asylum in the UK in 2011. He was initially arrested on charges of money laundering, but was bailed on charges of conspiracy to murder Yvonne. In 2017, the charges against him were dropped as evidence against him could not be provided in court due to national security concerns. Yvonne’s family to this day have had no closure, because the person that murdered her was never brought to justice.

Harry Dunn's mother Charlotte Charles source