The driver, I learned, was Anne Sacoolas, an American married to a U.S. intelligence officer stationed in Britain. The police said she assured them that she had no plans to leave the country, but she then fled back to the United States and the U.S. Embassy asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf.
My grief can never be completely assuaged, but I certainly do not want revenge. I just want Anne to do what any of us would be obliged to do in a similar situation: face up to what she has done and receive justice according to law. Then, I will be able to fully grieve.
Anne Sacoolas was this week made the subject of an Interpol “red notice”: If she ever leaves the United States, law enforcement officials in other countries are obliged to detain her for extradition to the United Kingdom.
I did not want it to come to this. I went to the White House last fall and explained to President Trump how Harry’s father and I needed Anne to return to a court in England in order for us to have closure. Cruelly, he refused. His national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, told us, “She’s never going back.” The president suggested we meet with Anne (he had kept her in an adjacent room), as if this were some sort of game show for the benefit of all the photographers, but we refused to play the president’s game.
I would consider meeting Anne, but only on U.K. soil. She must come back — that is the only decent thing she can do, and I cannot believe, as a fellow mother, that she will not. Anne has three young children. How will she be able to look them in the face, when they become teenagers, and confess to her cowardice in not owning up to taking the life of my teenage son?
The British police have done their job and charged her with causing death by dangerous driving. But the U.S. Embassy in Britain advised her to leave the country. The British government requested her extradition, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rejected the request in January. The State Department called the extradition request itself “an egregious abuse.”
Is this the way to treat your closest ally? Anne’s husband may well be a U.S. intelligence officer, but that does not put her above the law of a friendly country.
Although the maximum sentence for the crime she is charged with is 14 years, it is seldom imposed, and then only in cases of serious negligence resulting in death, such as speeding or texting while driving. If the court found that Harry’s death was an accident (which it surely was), and given that Anne has three children to look after, it would be possible for her to receive a noncustodial sentence if Harry’s father and I were prepared to forgive her and ask for mercy. Months ago, our lawyer told hers that we were prepared to do just that. So why didn’t Anne come back to Britain?
It makes me sick now to think of her lawyer saying that Anne won’t return because the potential prison sentence of 14 years would not be “proportionate.” Pretending that such a sentence would apply in this case is simply an attempt to deceive the public. If Anne ever faces trial, I will trust the court to reach the right verdict and, if she is convicted, to hand down a fair sentence.
Harry’s father and I are still prepared, even after all this time, to treat Anne as part of our victim group. I know she witnessed something horrible that night, and that she must be suffering herself. I believe she has a conscience and knows she made a mistake by fleeing, but is now under great pressure from the U.S. government — the intelligence community, the State Department and the like — because other issues are at stake.
Government officials don’t understand the human emotions involved in this case. I pray that Anne will have the courage to decide for herself to return to Britain and sit with me in a court that will do justice — and justice includes mercy — for my Harry. I do not want her to remain an international outlaw. We might even be able to build a relationship out of this tragedy, in my need and in hers.