US spy chiefs are planning a £200 million expansion of RAF Croughton, the UK military intelligence base where motorcyclist Harry Dunn was killed by former Central Intelligence Agency operative Anne Sacoolas in August 2019 – the teenager’s family, and local MP Andrea Leadsom, are campaigning against the proposals.
Dunn died after his motorcycle collided with Sacoolas’ car, which she was driving on the wrong side of the road- she fled the country subsequently. If US intelligence gets its way, £200 million in ‘improvements’ will be made at the site – for it’s intended to become Washington’s listening station for the entire African continent, with plans for vast new buildings to accommodate technology and staff
Harry Dunn Case: Family campaign to stop US government putting 1,500 more intelligence agents at air basehttps://t.co/DA5oJl2huP— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 5, 2020
Residents fear the increase in personnel threatens their lives, as more and more American drivers will be visiting the area, raising the risk of accidents. Presently, there are approximately 250 US military officers on the site, with 140 American defence contractors and a similar number of British Ministry of Defence officials stationed there, although under the new proposals this presence will be quadrupled.
Residents’ concerns are shared by Leadsom, who initiated an emergency debate on the issue in parliament, and summoned a Minister will be summoned to explain the UK’s support for the move.
“From the first day that Harry’s family asked me for help I’ve been determined to support them in achieving justice and ensure that this terrible tragedy is not repeated,” she told The Daily Mail.
A heartfelt thank you to @andrealeadsom and @LukeHall for yesterday’s powerful debate. There will be no more development at Croughton until common sense prevails. Also a fresh appeal to HM Govt as we fast approach the 1yr anniversary of #harrydunn’s tragic and needless passing. pic.twitter.com/gxTTGmTPuz— Radd Seiger (@RaddSeiger) July 10, 2020
Her support has been well-received by Dunn’s family, who have had a fraught relationship with the British and American governments in the ten months since the crash, and are currently engaged in legal action against Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, whom they blame for allowing Sacoolas to flee the country two weeks after the crash.
“Maybe this debate will prompt some questions about what the US is doing at Croughton and why, which is related to what it’s doing at Menwith Hill,” said Sarah Swift, of the Menwith Hill Accountability Campaign.
Sacoolas’ flight from justice, and the refusal of US authorities to deport her to Britain to face charges for the incident, are based on the argument she enjoys diplomatic immunity – however, former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray has made clear Sacoolas “does not hold, and has never held, a diplomatic rank”, “has never been a member of staff of a diplomatic mission” and “does not have, and has never had, any entitlement to diplomatic immunity in international law”.
The Dunn family’s lawyer Mark Stephens has reinforced this conclusion.
“There are approximately 20,000 official diplomats in this country - there's a definitive list of who is and who isn't. We know definitively this guy was not a diplomat and therefore was not entitled to diplomatic immunity. That means the Americans have made a false claim,” he said.