/ Jonathan Sacoolas Is Not a Diplomat

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gallam1 09 Oct 2019

I must say this came as a bit of a surprise, given what I have read, seen and heard on this matter from the media.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/10/jonathan-sacoolas-is-not-and-has-never-been-a-diplomat/

The diplomatic list is here for checking:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foreign-embassies-in-the-uk

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JLS 09 Oct 2019
In reply to gallam1:

Yeah but... Is he a secret agent with 007 type skills? We might not want to get on the wrong side of him by locking up his wife...

More seriously, I somehow doubt running from justice will be to her longterm benefit. Without much knowledge of the particulars of the incident but seeing how the law tends to be fairly lenient with those causing accidents, it didn't appear she would have too much to fear. If she does end up coming back to face the music, I reckon the increased public intrest won't help her cause.

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krikoman 09 Oct 2019
In reply to JLS:

I think the point Gallam1 was making is, if she doesn't have diplomatic immunity, because her husband wasn't a diplomat, she  could and should be extradited.

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In reply to JLS:

It depends on the nature of her driving. If it was established that she was driving carelessly and it was more than a momentary lapse then she could be looking at a short period of custody.

if she was driving dangerously then it would be a lengthy sentence.

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In reply to gallam1:

I was wondering about that; if he was a diplomat, wtf was he doing at an airbase?

jcm

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elsewhere 09 Oct 2019
In reply to johncoxmysteriously:

Looks like it is a US communications base.

There are some kind of military forces agreement for foreign forces in the UK.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Croughton

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JLS 09 Oct 2019
In reply to krikoman:

Yeah, I got that. Like Mr Cox, when I first heard the story I was “surprised” a “diplomat” worked at an airbase. I immediately assumed he was some sort of spook.

I fear, in this case, the rule of law would just get in the way of our special relationship with the US. We’ll see.

Post edited at 18:50
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JLS 09 Oct 2019
In reply to guy xavier percival:

I was basing my slap on the wrists theory around the treatment of the many cyclist v motorist cases.

But yeah, much will depend on the particular circumstances. As an occasional driver in mainland Europe I can understand how easy it is to pull out of a car park on the wrong side of the road. There by the grace of god etc.

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gallam1 09 Oct 2019
In reply to gallam1:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7546791/Send-cowardly-diplomats-wife-Mr-President.html

This is a very illuminating article.

Either the Daily Mail knowingly print completely misleading nonsense, or they are employing absolutely useless journalists who do not check information easily available on the internet.  I cannot really express any surprise, but it's good to have a crystal clear and completely incontrovertible example.  I'm sure we can find similar in the Guardian btw.

From the article:

"It turned out she flew back to the U.S. after claiming diplomatic immunity, reportedly on the advice of the U.S. Embassy.

Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, diplomats and their family members are typically immune from prosecution in their host country.

So, Ms Sacoolas has exercised her right under this agreement to flee Britain, and justice, and has done so with the full backing of the United States authorities that have so far resisted calls from British police to waive her immunity, as they are empowered to do in exceptional circumstances."

Post edited at 18:58
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elsewhere 09 Oct 2019
In reply to elsewhere:

> Looks like it is a US communications base.

Described as intelligence base on Ch4 news with a mention of NSA and CIA so an eavesdropping site.

Post edited at 19:32
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JLS 09 Oct 2019
In reply to elsewhere:

Saw that. Not really surprising there are spooks with diplomatic immunity who’s names don’t appear on the official list. 

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MarkJH 09 Oct 2019
In reply to gallam1:

It is normally fairly safe to assume that anything written by Craig Murray is either wrong or misleading.

I can't find any reference in the Vienna Convention (or in the UK implementing it) that requires the receiving state to publish a list of all individuals with diplomatic status.  I presume that some provision is made for close allies who may not want some of the names that they apply for made public. 

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tjdodd 09 Oct 2019
In reply to JLS:

My understanding was she drove 400m on the wrong side of the road. 

According to radio 4, diplomatic immunity is used as an incentive for people to be posted overseas. This case highlights the stupidity of immunity.

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gallam1 09 Oct 2019
In reply to MarkJH:

The person in question is repeatedly referred to as a diplomat.

That may be different from having diplomatic immunity for sure, but it is also fairly certain that the person in question is not a diplomat.

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MarkJH 09 Oct 2019
In reply to gallam1:

> That may be different from having diplomatic immunity for sure, but it is also fairly certain that the person in question is not a diplomat.

Very little is certain.  Diplomatic missions perform a variety of roles, and many of their staff may well not be 'diplomats' in the generally understood sense.  Ultimately it is up to the UK government to decide who gets accreditation under the Vienna Convention.  The only point I was making was that contrary to the OP, there is nothing that demonstrates that Jonathan Sacoolas (or his wife) do not have diplomatic immunity.

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Dave Garnett 09 Oct 2019
In reply to tjdodd:

> My understanding was she drove 400m on the wrong side of the road. 

Yes, that was my understanding.  Which, if she had just flown in from the US, or had not left the base recently, is understandable although presumably still a road traffic offence (I'm assuming she was sober).  Not facing the music is obviously less forgivable, although we are assuming she was given a choice.

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tom_in_edinburgh 10 Oct 2019
In reply to JLS:

> More seriously, I somehow doubt running from justice will be to her longterm benefit. Without much knowledge of the particulars of the incident but seeing how the law tends to be fairly lenient with those causing accidents, it didn't appear she would have too much to fear. If she does end up coming back to face the music, I reckon the increased public intrest won't help her cause.

Depends if she is a spook too.   If she is she was quite likely ordered to get on the first military plane heading back to the US.   Seems like the best way forward is for the US to pay compensation to the victim's family.

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profitofdoom 10 Oct 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> .............Seems like the best way forward is for the US to pay compensation to the victim's family.

I would guess that is not what the family of the guy who died want

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BnB 10 Oct 2019
In reply to gallam1:

Sounds like something is being done, although it may not feel like justice. Reported in the FT just now that Trump has announced Mrs S will definitively not be returning to the UK but that the White House, or its agents, intended to speak to the mother "and see what we can come up with so that there can be some healing" 

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FactorXXX 10 Oct 2019
In reply to BnB:

> Sounds like something is being done, although it may not feel like justice. Reported in the FT just now that Trump has announced Mrs S will definitively not be returning to the UK but that the White House, or its agents, intended to speak to the mother "and see what we can come up with so that there can be some healing" 

It's Trump, so he will probably think a weekend break at one of his Golf Courses will be more than adequate compensation.

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Wanderer100 10 Oct 2019
In reply to gallam1:

From the BBC news website .

Diplomatic immunity is by no means restricted to those named on the Diplomatic List from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Drivers, cooks and other support staff whose names do not appear, but have been accredited to Britain ("the receiving state") have the same diplomatic status and immunity as those who are listed.

Equally, there are a number of foreign nationals in Britain attached to international organisations who have the same status and protection

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tom_in_edinburgh 10 Oct 2019
In reply to profitofdoom:

> I would guess that is not what the family of the guy who died want

They are probably after revenge by having the person punished but the desires of the victims family are not the only consideration.

If someone has access to classified information at a level where normally they wouldn't be allowed to leave the US you can see why the intelligence services aren't going to want them potentially facing imprisonment and a situation where they could be coerced or attacked, or being under oath in open court and being asked questions their employer wouldn't want them to answer.  Hence the diplomatic immunity arrangement.

It's very rare but on this one I almost agree with Trump.   The underlying problem is that the UK has chosen to drive on a different side of the road from most of the rest of the world.   It is not uncommon for UK drivers in the US or EU tourists in the UK to do what they normally do and end up on the wrong side of the road, especially when they turn into a quiet road with no other cars in sight to give them a cue about what side to drive on.  Almost always it gets resolved quickly by getting onto the right side of the road without anyone getting hurt but in a few unlucky instances there's an accident.  The people who get involved in the accident are no more culpable than the thousands who avoid one it is just chance.   Morally, we should just accept that by deciding to drive on the left when most other countries drive on the right we have created a risk of this kind of accident and statistically there are going to be some casualties every year.

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Pedro50 10 Oct 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

Wasn't it Napoleon who buggered up driving on the left or is that an urban myth?

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fred99 10 Oct 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> They are probably after revenge by having the person punished but the desires of the victims family are not the only consideration.

> If someone has access to classified information at a level where normally they wouldn't be allowed to leave the US you can see why the intelligence services aren't going to want them potentially facing imprisonment and a situation where they could be coerced or attacked, or being under oath in open court and being asked questions their employer wouldn't want them to answer.  Hence the diplomatic immunity arrangement.

Isn't this the WIFE of the consular employee though, who has already been done (in the US) for driving offence(s).

A big question as to whether she personally should be protected, just because of who hubby is (or might be).

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DubyaJamesDubya 10 Oct 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> They are probably after revenge by having the person punished but the desires of the victims family are not the only consideration.

> If someone has access to classified information at a level where normally they wouldn't be allowed to leave the US you can see why the intelligence services aren't going to want them potentially facing imprisonment and a situation where they could be coerced or attacked, or being under oath in open court and being asked questions their employer wouldn't want them to answer.  Hence the diplomatic immunity arrangement.

> It's very rare but on this one I almost agree with Trump.   The underlying problem is that the UK has chosen to drive on a different side of the road from most of the rest of the world.   It is not uncommon for UK drivers in the US or EU tourists in the UK to do what they normally do and end up on the wrong side of the road, especially when they turn into a quiet road with no other cars in sight to give them a cue about what side to drive on.  Almost always it gets resolved quickly by getting onto the right side of the road without anyone getting hurt but in a few unlucky instances there's an accident.  The people who get involved in the accident are no more culpable than the thousands who avoid one it is just chance.   Morally, we should just accept that by deciding to drive on the left when most other countries drive on the right we have created a risk of this kind of accident and statistically there are going to be some casualties every year.

None of which excuses fleeing the country.

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Lusk 10 Oct 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Morally, we should just accept that by deciding to drive on the left when most other countries drive on the right we have created a risk of this kind of accident and statistically there are going to be some casualties every year.

Bollocks!
If you don't know which side of the road to drive on, no matter where you are, you shouldn't be on the road.

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JLS 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Lusk:

> Bollocks!

> If you don't know which side of the road to drive on, no matter where you are, you shouldn't be on the road.


No, you are mistaken.  What you've just said IS bollocks.

Yes, there is recklessness and there is carelessness but there is also common human error. Perhaps not easy to understand when it affects you directly and negatively but it's a thing and is understood by those with more objectivity.

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Pan Ron 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Lusk:

People know which side to drive on.  Just as they know to always tie-in their figure-8.

But people continue to be caught out.  I'm sure a hell of a lot of left-side drivers have been thrown on roundabouts, on dark nights, or when no other traffic was in sight, when travelling in the rest of the world.  You could too.

Standardising this would improve a hell of a lot.

Post edited at 14:15
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Ridge 10 Oct 2019
In reply to FactorXXX:

> It's Trump, so he will probably think a weekend break at one of his Golf Courses will be more than adequate compensation.

I think you mean a discounted rate for a weekend break at one of his Golf Courses, with a caveat they can't use the clubhouse.

Post edited at 14:46
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Ian W 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Pedro50:

> Wasn't it Napoleon who buggered up driving on the left or is that an urban myth?

If its an urban myth, it follows extremely logical principles; driving (riding horse as was) on the left was the natural thing to do. Or at least pass on the left (right hand to right hand) when another traveller was met, as i suspect they didn't require so much lane discipline back in the day, especially at urban junctions......

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Ian W 10 Oct 2019
In reply to JLS:

> No, you are mistaken.  What you've just said IS bollocks.

> Yes, there is recklessness and there is carelessness but there is also common human error. Perhaps not easy to understand when it affects you directly and negatively but it's a thing and is understood by those with more objectivity.

Human error / carelessness combined, but its easy to do. When living in France I managed to find myself on the wrong side of the road a couple of times, despite constantly reminding myself to be careful, and after returning to the UK (after about 9 months) i found myself frustratingly on the wrong side of the road pulling away from my house one morning, but about 5 weeks after getting back. We all get brainfade.

Perhaps I just should never have been on the road......

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tom_in_edinburgh 10 Oct 2019
In reply to Lusk:

> Bollocks!

> If you don't know which side of the road to drive on, no matter where you are, you shouldn't be on the road.

I used to travel regularly to the US on business trips and pick up rental cars at night after a long flight and I came close to making similar errors a few times although I always caught it in time.  My wife came to the UK after living in Germany and her first few months here she got it wrong coming out of our flats a couple of times without any consequence.   I drive past a rental car garage most mornings where there are a lot of tourists picking up cars in the summer months and over the years I've seen people get it wrong or start to get it wrong and change their mind quite a few times, fortunately on that particular road it is all low speed and easily resolved. 

Personally I don't think we should make errors within the normal range of human performance into criminal offences even when they have a serious outcome.  Rather than looking to punish people who make the error we should focus on reducing the risk of the error happening.

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krikoman 10 Oct 2019
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Personally I don't think we should make errors within the normal range of human performance into criminal offences even when they have a serious outcome.  Rather than looking to punish people who make the error we should focus on reducing the risk of the error happening.

Drink driving? what if I make an error on how much is the legal limit and go slightly over the limit and then kill someone, surely I made a simple error.

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TheTwig 13 Oct 2019

If I recall correctly, RAF Croughton houses the downlink for the CIA’s satellite downlink covering operations in Western Europe (possibly Mystic Star?).

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marsbar 13 Oct 2019
In reply to Lusk:

I managed to briefly drive on the wrong side in France once. I was lucky the other driver I met was able to avoid me.  

It happens.  

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profitofdoom 09:44 Sun
In reply to marsbar:

> I managed to briefly drive on the wrong side in France once. I was lucky the other driver I met was able to avoid me.  

> It happens.  

Yes, it happens, but this case is not about it happening. It's about someone fleeing a police investigation - after someone was killed 

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L #600MHz 10:14 Mon
In reply to gallam1: The list you posted was only for "the addresses and contact details of all embassies and High Commissions."  That list doesn't include everyone who has Diplomatic status. 

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L #600MHz 10:23 Mon

RAF Croughton:

It's a boring communications hub, it's not a secret spy base or a listening post.  What would they be listening to anyway?  Sheep?  

"I don't think we should make errors within the normal range of human performance into criminal offences even when they have a serious outcome"  A person should still be held responsible for their mistakes. 

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L #600MHz 10:24 Mon
In reply to Lusk:

> Bollocks!

> If you don't know which side of the road to drive on, no matter where you are, you shouldn't be on the road.

So you've never made a mistake in your life?  Bollocks to that. 

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gallam1 10:35 Mon
In reply to gallam1:

This story seems to be rumbling on.

Further legal argument from Craig Murray here:

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2019/10/the-foreign-office-must-be-challenged-over-sacoolas-immunity/

I heard on the BBC last night that diplomatic immunity is usually tested at the court stage, which will be interesting if it occurs this time.  Does anyone know if this is the case?

The argument in Craig Murray's piece is quite detailed and I would be interested to hear what people think.  I'm not that interested in people attempting to refute the message on the grounds that they don't like the messenger however.

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fred99 10:59 Mon
In reply to #600MHz:

> So you've never made a mistake in your life?  Bollocks to that. 


Missing a gear change or a turning is a mistake.

Killing someone and then running away and claiming diplomatic immunity is indicative of someone who is a selfish (and dangerous) little shit.

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MarkJH 11:24 Mon
In reply to gallam1:

> The argument in Craig Murray's piece is quite detailed and I would be interested to hear what people think.  I'm not that interested in people attempting to refute the message on the grounds that they don't like the messenger however.

If that was a response to my last reply, then I did offer a factual refutation of his argument, along with my opinion of his credibility.  

His latest piece is long rather than detailed and appears to rest on the fact that he personally cannot find anything to support Jonathan Sacoolas having diplomatic immunity.  He makes frequent reference to the Vienna convention, but only passing reference to it's implementation in UK law.  If he had spent longer reading that, then he would see that the amended Section 7 does, in fact, offer a legal route for an extension of diplomatic immunity by the government in the case of a bilateral agreement (which would not necessarily rely on new legislation).  I am not trying to claim that Jonathan Sacoolas definitely had immunity, but there is no evidence in the public domain that proves that he did not.

As I said before, it is normally a safe shortcut to assume that Murray is either wrong or misleading in what he writes.

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kipper12 12:41 Mon
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

> Personally I don't think we should make errors within the normal range of human performance into criminal offences even when they have a serious outcome.  Rather than looking to punish people who make the error we should focus on reducing the risk of the error happening.

Isn't this for the courts to decide.  I think this is the point of the victims family, they rather want the other party back here to help with the investigation.  If there is a case to answer, then she will have chance to give her side of the story.

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Eric9Points 13:07 Mon
In reply to kipper12:

I think you're both right.

It is a common mistake for drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road in foreign countries. In Scotland at least we even put up signs to remind people which side they should be driving on.

At the same time there should be a trial to examine the evidence to determine whether any criminal behaviour did contribute to the death.

My wife was at university with Mr Murray. She described him as "a highly intelligent nob". Doesn't mean he doesn't occasionally raise valid points of course.

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wynaptomos 13:20 Mon
In reply to #600MHz:

> So you've never made a mistake in your life?  Bollocks to that. 

If it’s a genuine mistake then the courts would presumably have treated it as such. You still need to take responsibility for your mistakes.

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FactorXXX 13:22 Mon
In reply to fred99:

> Killing someone and then running away and claiming diplomatic immunity is indicative of someone who is a selfish (and dangerous) little shit.

There's a very real chance that she has no choice in the matter and was ordered back to the USA on the next plane available.

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In reply to gallam1:

This impasse could be easily solved in one fell swoop....suspect swap with Prince Andrew ;-)

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FactorXXX 13:29 Mon
In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

> This impasse could be easily solved in one fell swoop....suspect swap with Prince Andrew ;-)

Assange might be a better choice...

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Eric9Points 13:42 Mon
In reply to FactorXXX:

> There's a very real chance that she has no choice in the matter and was ordered back to the USA on the next plane available.


That occurred to me too.

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profitofdoom 20:10 Mon
In reply to FactorXXX:

> There's a very real chance that she has no choice in the matter and was ordered back to the USA on the next plane available.

We need evidence for any such assumption. Also I doubt it. And also she wouldn't have been strapped to a seat on the plane - she certainly could have said "No, I'm staying here".

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marsbar 20:11 Mon
In reply to profitofdoom:

> Yes, it happens, but this case is not about it happening. It's about someone fleeing a police investigation - after someone was killed 

My reply was specifically and only answering the point made that anyone who mistakenly drives on the wrong side of the road should have their licence removed.  

I totally agree that fleeing after a fatal accident isn't the right thing to do.  I assumed that was obvious, perhaps it isn't.  

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In reply to JLS:

> But yeah, much will depend on the particular circumstances. As an occasional driver in mainland Europe I can understand how easy it is to pull out of a car park on the wrong side of the road. There by the grace of god etc.

What doesn't help is that RAF Croughton is very Americanised - Lots of people based there have imported Left hand drive American vehicles  - The infrastructure/ street names are American / several baseball diamonds etc.  They have American Style Police Patrol Cars within the Base. American goods are imported etc -  I can well imagine that the overall feel (as is intended) makes people feel like they are back home.  - So I can understand that that scenario puts you in a frame of mind that you drive on the side of the road that you always have.  

Plus - it would be very easy to put in some raised lanes so that when you exit the base you are automatically filtered onto the correct side of the road.  - Which RAF Croughton does not- But doubt anything like that will come out of this.

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DancingOnRock 10:08 Tue
In reply to Nempnett Thrubwell:

Maybe they drive on the right on the base as well?

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gallam1 10:12 Tue
In reply to DancingOnRock:

The base is UK territory and governed by UK law, so I doubt they drive on the other side.  But it seems like getting straight answers to these questions is currently impossible, even when the media decides to raise itself to ask them.

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Harry Jarvis 10:22 Tue
In reply to DancingOnRock:

> Maybe they drive on the right on the base as well?

Google Earth helps here. The road markings within the base are definitely British - drive on the left. Whether they actually stick to this is impossible to ascertain. 

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JLS 10:36 Tue
In reply to Harry Jarvis:

I had a look at that earlier. I very very much doubt they don’t stick to driving on the left within the base.

A quick look at Google maps and it doesn’t take long to scan along from the base gate and see the tight, tree lined bend to the East.  

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ClimberEd 10:43 Tue
In reply to fred99:

> Isn't this the WIFE of the consular employee though, who has already been done (in the US) for driving offence(s).

> A big question as to whether she personally should be protected, just because of who hubby is (or might be).

I think you, and a lot of people, are missing the glaring point.

It is entirely possible she was a spook, or has information that the US doesn't want divulged or potentially divulged, or is useful in another way that means the US doesn't want her in trouble in the UK.

In which case it is entirely understandable that their unsaid attitude to the family is 'she had diplomatic immunity, now bugger off back to where you came from'. 

That's the way the world works, don't shoot the messenger. 

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fred99 10:57 Tue
In reply to FactorXXX:

> There's a very real chance that she has no choice in the matter and was ordered back to the USA on the next plane available.


If that was the case then so much for the "special relationship".

Mind you the yanks have been a bunch of nasty little shits ever since Trump was elected.

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In reply to ClimberEd:

> It is entirely possible she was a spook, or has information that the US doesn't want divulged or potentially divulged, or is useful in another way that means the US doesn't want her in trouble in the UK.

That's my guess.  They arranged diplomatic immunity because they don't want people with access to secrets being put in a situation where they could be pressured to reveal them.

The second possibility is the base is worried that her defence would make arguments about the junction or other aspects of traffic management on the base being a contributory factor to the accident and they don't want the embarrassment or interest from the media.

The best way round this is for the US government to make a large compensation payment and apologise.

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