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  #501  
Old 02-13-2020, 11:22 PM
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...Also, even though she had only been in the UK for 3 weeks on this particular visit, she had previously worked in the UK for two years up to 2017, presumably as a CIA agent...
Huh. I would have thought that driving on the wrong side is something that would come back quickly, like riding a bike...
  #502  
Old 02-14-2020, 10:12 AM
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The previous two-year residence in the UK also is a rebuttal to the “why do we need a trial? It’s obvious what happened” argument.

This thread was started four months ago, has now reached over 500 posts, and we’re just now hearing about a significant fact that goes directly to the issue of her negligence.

Maybe, just maybe, the law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies in England know more about the details of this case than posters on a message board, and that’s why they think a trial is warranted?

Wild and crazy thought, I know, but perhaps we should entertain it.
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  #503  
Old 02-14-2020, 10:30 AM
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Huh. I would have thought that driving on the wrong side is something that would come back quickly, like riding a bike...
In my experience, that happens best when there are visual queues, especially other cars driving on the "correct" side of the road. If you switch back and forth over a period of time, you won't get a sense of things being wrong without feedback.
  #504  
Old 02-14-2020, 05:17 PM
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If she lived in the UK for two years, the argument that she was "new to driving in the UK and probably confused" is shot to hell.
Agreed. But whatever her job was, I still don't see how her being - or having been - an agent makes things worse. She was, by all accounts on this trip a spouse visiting her husband, as previously stated. It seems to me that outing her as an agent is just a petty revenge, and a damned dangerous one at that.

Whatever they might hope for from the trial, I'm pretty sure death isn't a possible outcome.
  #505  
Old 02-14-2020, 06:42 PM
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In my experience, that happens best when there are visual queues, especially other cars driving on the "correct" side of the road. If you switch back and forth over a period of time, you won't get a sense of things being wrong without feedback.
True, but part of the feedback can also be the car itself. That is, if you're driving a right-hand drive car, and drive on the right, you'll find yourself right against the curb with limited view of the left side of the road, which feels very weird.

Meanwhile, driving with the steering wheel on the "wrong", nearside, of the car feels generally weird, and it becomes a bit more understandable how someone could drive on the wrong side for a while.

IME
  #506  
Old 02-14-2020, 11:41 PM
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Agreed. But whatever her job was, I still don't see how her being - or having been - an agent makes things worse. She was, by all accounts on this trip a spouse visiting her husband, as previously stated. It seems to me that outing her as an agent is just a petty revenge, and a damned dangerous one at that.

Whatever they might hope for from the trial, I'm pretty sure death isn't a possible outcome.
If a foreign spy is involved in the death of a person in your country, and is whisked away and protected by the foreign government, it adds to the feeling that foreigners are doing bad things in your country and getting special protection.

The fact that apparently she is a foreign spy is part of the overall picture. It should not be concealed from the people of Britain, who are assessing whether their government is properly handling thus issue. Is the British government not doing everything it can, because the "special relationship" means HM's government has to kowtow to the American spymasters? That's a fair question for the British to be asking.

If protecting her spy cover was so important, and blowing it can put lives at risk, then wouldn't it have been better for her to plead to the charge, get a fine and community service, and avoid the chance that her spy status becomes public by protracted proceedings, as has actually happened here? If she's truly a dedicated spy for her country, wouldn't that have been a sounder course of action?

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Last edited by Northern Piper; 02-14-2020 at 11:42 PM.
  #507  
Old 02-15-2020, 03:17 AM
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In the UK that doesn't seem to be the case. There would be no separate charge of driving while intoxicated, because that is included as an aggravating factor in the charge of causing death by dangerous driving, and it affects sentencing.

For the record, I think it's unlikely she was drunk, but there may be other aggravating factors, such as texting on a mobile phone, or taking medication that causes drowsiness. It's significant that she was charged with the more serious offence of 'causing death by dangerous driving', rather than 'causing death by careless driving'.
There are actually four levels of offence for causing death by driving:

Quote:
THE OFFENCES
Causing death by driving is divided into four offences. These are:
 causing death by dangerous driving;
 causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs;
 causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving; and
 causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers.
https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk...t-for-web1.pdf (PDF)

Anne Sacoolas has been charged with the highest level of offence, causing death by dangerous driving.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-50870459
From the sentencing council leaflet:
Quote:
For dangerous driving the standard of the offender’s driving will have been so bad as to have created an obvious risk of danger.
As noted, once the threshold for causing death by dangerous driving is reached, there is no further higher charge of causing death by dangerous driving when under the influence of drink or drugs. However, being under the influence can be considered an aggravating factor when the judge determines sentencing. The lowest level of sentencing is for "Driving that created a significant risk of danger" and has a starting point, based on a first time offender pleading not guilty, of a three year custodial sentence. If driving under the influence or other aggravating factors were to raise the nature of the offence to "Driving that created a substantial risk of danger", the starting point rises to five years. The minimum guideline sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is two years. However, judges are not obligated to comply with this guideline. They may also choose to order a custodial sentence, and then suspend it.
https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk...erous-driving/

TLDR: It's a very serious charge, and while prison time is not guaranteed, any sentence would be more than a slap on the wrist.

Last edited by Wrenching Spanners; 02-15-2020 at 03:18 AM.
  #508  
Old 02-16-2020, 01:19 PM
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...
Is the British government not doing everything it can, because the "special relationship" means HM's government has to kowtow to the American spymasters? That's a fair question for the British to be asking.
...
If the person in question had been in the Witness Protection program, such that revealing her real name and status might result in her death and/or danger to her family, would you make the same claim?

People who work in the clandestine services look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives. It's not like soldiers, who get to go home and be safe. It may take a while for a soldier to *feel* that they are safe. For a member of the clandestine services, not only are they never safe, but everyone they worked with them could be identified by association. And everyone who rented them a room, or sold them groceries, or delivered their newspaper is at risk of "aggressive interrogation" just by dint having crossed paths with them.

That's why it is considered completely beyond the pale to advertise that status. None of us can predict what the unintended consequences may be.

So no, the British public does not "have a right to know" what her job was.
  #509  
Old 02-16-2020, 01:28 PM
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The American policy of protecting the identity of their spies has no legal status in Britain. The British people certainly are entitled to question and critique the actions of their government, and to ask if their government is favouring foreign spies at the expense of due process in the British court system.

Having their cover blown by their actions in a foreign country is one of the risks that spies voluntarily assume.

Query: would you apply the same standard in the United States with foreign spies? If a Russian or Chinese spy is accused of a crime in the United States, would you say that the US government should protect the spy’s status from the American people?
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Old 02-16-2020, 01:32 PM
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Why would you choose adversaries for your question? Surely you mean "should the US protect the identity of British spies?".
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:10 PM
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Beacause TruCelt made a sweeping claim that the identities of agents in “clandestine services” should have their identities protected. Chinese and Russian spies are in “clandestine services”, so by her claim, their identities should be protected.

If TruCelt wants to come back and restrict her claim to American spies, she can.

Plus, how can you be certain that the current US regime views Russian spies as adversaries, given that the President was willing to share highly qualified intelligence with the Russian Ambassador?

Just to clarify, that is not meant ironically/sarcastically on my part. If the President shares highly classified intelligence with the Ambassador of a foreign country, that strongly suggests that country is not an adversary.
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  #512  
Old 02-16-2020, 07:19 PM
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Why would you choose adversaries for your question? Surely you mean "should the US protect the identity of British spies?".
That's exactly what I was wondering. And my answer is that no, I don't think it would be appropriate for the US government to blow the cover of a British spy, unless we had some serious falling out with great Britain. And I don't mean a traffic death.

This makes me wonder just how bad US/UK relations are right now.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:22 PM
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In my experience, that happens best when there are visual queues, especially other cars driving on the "correct" side of the road. If you switch back and forth over a period of time, you won't get a sense of things being wrong without feedback.
I've been thinking now about this, and I've changed my answer. If she'd only recently returned, I do think it would unfortunately easy to confuse the sides. I was dancing left-handed today, as a hack. It's something I do from time to time. And even though I've done it frequently, it's easy to get confused and go the wrong way. (And to do the same for a while when i switch back, too.)

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  #514  
Old 02-16-2020, 10:48 PM
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. . .
Query: would you apply the same standard in the United States with foreign spies? If a Russian or Chinese spy is accused of a crime in the United States, would you say that the US government should protect the spy’s status from the American people?
I certainly would. Because in the case of a Russian spy the landlord, and the paperboy, and the grocer in question would have been American citizens. I do not agree with spy cases being blown up all over the newspapers, period.

Perhaps if the spy in question had been accused of murder - as the British press seems intent upon treating this case - and the consequences could somehow magically be narrowed to the murderer, then I might agree with you.

But in no case should a person accused of some degree of traffic accident have their life put at risk in retaliation.

And in no case should any government allow a member of their own clandestine services to be taken into custody and questioned by a foreign government - however friendly. Because that would be just plain stupid, and the precedent it would set might be tragic.

I continue to be convinced that the fact of her having been employed by the CIA further supports the decision of the two governments to respect her immunity in this case. I still do not see any justification for why anyone would be more upset by it. The news should have garnered a deep sigh and "Oh, so that's why it was so important!" from all concerned.

Last edited by TruCelt; 02-16-2020 at 10:49 PM.
  #515  
Old 02-16-2020, 11:49 PM
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I continue to be convinced that the fact of her having been employed by the CIA further supports the decision of the two governments to respect her immunity in this case.
Two governments? The British government formally requested her extradition.
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Old 02-17-2020, 04:50 AM
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I've been thinking now about this, and I've changed my answer. If she'd only recently returned, I do think it would unfortunately easy to confuse the sides. I was dancing left-handed today, as a hack. It's something I do from time to time. And even though I've done it frequently, it's easy to get confused and go the wrong way.
But consider my point too: if you're in a right hand drive car that's a visual and tactile reminder.


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Old 02-17-2020, 06:40 AM
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But consider my point too: if you're in a right hand drive car that's a visual and tactile reminder.
Having switched back and forth a few times, I can tell you that it's often not enough.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:32 AM
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But consider my point too: if you're in a right hand drive car that's a visual and tactile reminder.


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We create cues like that when dancing mirror. We hold hands the "other" way to remind us. It's helpful, but doesn't completely do the job.
  #519  
Old 02-17-2020, 08:35 AM
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...
And in no case should any government allow a member of their own clandestine services to be taken into custody and questioned by a foreign government - however friendly. Because that would be just plain stupid, and the precedent it would set might be tragic.
...
The news should have garnered a deep sigh and "Oh, so that's why it was so important!" from all concerned.
This. It's now obvious why the US told her to go home, and claimed diplomatic immunity. And really quite irresponsible of the British press and whoever leaked the CIA info to have released that information.
  #520  
Old 02-18-2020, 04:17 PM
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Having switched back and forth a few times, I can tell you that it's often not enough.
So can I; it's the presence of other traffic that reminds you.
  #521  
Old 02-20-2020, 06:53 PM
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The CIA is the agency that prepares the "CIA World Factbook". Being an 'agent' for the CIA doesn't, in itself, mean anything more than that you read the daily papers and prepare reports.

The CIA hides it's undercover work under the cover of it's undercover agents, who provide cover by the fact that most of them are just doing typing.
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Old 02-20-2020, 08:03 PM
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The CIA hides it's undercover work under the cover of it's undercover agents, who provide cover by the fact that most of them are just doing typing.
Perhaps you could explain by giving an explanation, what the point is that you are pointing at? 
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Old 02-21-2020, 07:32 PM
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People who work in the clandestine services look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives. It's not like soldiers, who get to go home and be safe. It may take a while for a soldier to *feel* that they are safe. For a member of the clandestine services, not only are they never safe, but everyone they worked with them could be identified by association. And everyone who rented them a room, or sold them groceries, or delivered their newspaper is at risk of "aggressive interrogation" just by dint having crossed paths with them.

That's why it is considered completely beyond the pale to advertise that status. None of us can predict what the unintended consequences may be.

So no, the British public does not "have a right to know" what her job was.
People who "work in the clandestine services" are mostly just government employees like any other.
  #524  
Old 02-22-2020, 01:00 AM
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People who "work in the clandestine services" are mostly just government employees like any other.
The difference is that they will have access to secret and sensitive intelligence information.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:25 PM
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The difference is that they will have access to secret and sensitive intelligence information.
The point is that they mostly don't have access to secret and sensitive intelligence information.

Because (1), intelligence organisations are information collecting organisations, not information distributing organisations.

And (2), most of the information they collect is from newspapers and similar.

Who do you think does collect the information from newspapers and similar? It's officers working in embassies, reporting to the central information agency.
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Old 02-22-2020, 10:08 PM
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People who "work in the clandestine services" are mostly just government employees like any other.
The average intelligence officer working behind a desk in Langley is not in clandestine service. That is a phrase with a specific meaning.
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Old 02-23-2020, 02:39 AM
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And (2), most of the information they collect is from newspapers and similar.
That's the most naďve statement about the CIA I've ever heard.

I hate to break it to you, but the main purpose of the CIA is not to produce the CIA World Factbook.

The CIA gets information from:
  • Clandestine agents in foreign government services
  • Spy satellites and drones
  • Bugs - especially at foreign embassies and the UN
  • Intercepted foreign government communications
  • Shared information from allied intelligence services
  • Intercepted emails, text messages, phone conversations
  • Social media, chat rooms, forums, websites, etc., including the 'dark web'

The CIA also conducts covert paramilitary operations and cyber-warfare (hacking into foreign computer networks).
  #528  
Old 02-23-2020, 05:17 PM
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That's the most naďve statement about the CIA I've ever heard.
Ok. Budget estimates?
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:45 PM
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Ok. Budget estimates?
Why do you expect other people to do your research for you? 

Anyway, I spent a few minutes googling, since you are unwilling (or unable) to do it.


In 2013 the Washington Post reported that the 'black budget' for intelligence programs was $52.6 billion, of which $14.7 billion went to the CIA.

The total 'black budget' in 2018 was $81.1 billion - no info on the CIA portion.

We can assume that the CIA budget is probably around $20 billion by now.
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Old 02-25-2020, 07:11 PM
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Why do you expect other people to do your research for you? 

Anyway, I spent a few minutes googling, since you are unwilling (or unable) to do it.


In 2013 the Washington Post reported that the 'black budget' for intelligence programs was $52.6 billion, of which $14.7 billion went to the CIA.

The total 'black budget' in 2018 was $81.1 billion - no info on the CIA portion.

We can assume that the CIA budget is probably around $20 billion by now.
You've completely missed the point. I'm starting to suspect that might be deliberate. You are free to disagree with me. I don't mind. But refusing to address the argument isn't helping your case.

The CIA does mostly office work. Most of the CIA officers are office workers. CIA covert officers are a small fraction of the CIA, and mostly do office work, which obscures the small number of CIA covert officers doing covert work, which is a small fraction of a small fraction of the CIA.

No, the CIA budget does not tell you how many people are in danger. The purpose of the black budget is to conceal, not to reveal, and the James Bond 007 budget is hidden several layers down.

Last edited by Melbourne; 02-25-2020 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 02-26-2020, 12:28 AM
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Melbourne, you asked what the budget was, I told you what the budget was. (It was obviously much higher than you thought.) You asked a simple question, and I gave a clear factual answer to your simple question. Now you are saying I didn't address your argument.

You are desperately floundering, as anyone can see.

I addressed your argument back in post #524. They are mostly office workers, but they are constantly working with highly secret intelligence information, the nature of which I explained in post #527.

Specifically, in regard to RAF Croughton, where Anne Sacoolas was stationed, as I cited in post #234:

Quote:
The base is a major CIA/Pentagon communications and signals intelligence centre. ... It has satellite and fibre-optic links to US bases around the world and to the UK’s own signals intelligence-gathering and eavesdropping headquarters, GCHQ, in Cheltenham.

From Croughton, with British connivance, more than 200 US personnel control and monitor US air strikes by drones based in Djibouti on the Red Sea, including attacks on targets in Yemen and Somalia. The base is also the hub of a CIA/American National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance network, intercepting communications throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It was from there, for example, that the Americans were found to have tapped into the mobile phones of prominent politicians, including German chancellor Angela Merkel.
  #532  
Old 02-27-2020, 09:24 PM
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But there is an easy answer for that: responsible governments should waive the immunity in cases where the malfeasance was in the course of officials duties, and a fair trial can be expected. Adults acting like adults would solve this particular problem.

Plus, let us remember that most places that diplomats serve are countries in which "due process of law" is nothing more than empty words, if it is spoken at all. Subjecting diplomats to the show trials of China and Russia is an unacceptable risk for people charged with trying to resolve difficult issues with those countries. Especially when those difficult issues could easily result in war, if handled poorly.
The problem with that is that we would cause international and diplomatic issues by listing these countries. Sure, we would put Canada and the UK at the very top of any of these lists of where "a fair trial can be expected." But then some other country not on our nice list is going to complain and if we don't add them, that will cause issues. Better to just have a blanket rule.

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I think part of our disconnect is we have different ideas about the seriousness of the crime. The result of the crime was horrendous, of course. But the actual malfeasance was, imo, a cognitive glitch, or "brain fart" that you or I or most anyone could have fallen prey to. I don't believe she acted with evil indifference. I think her brain failed to adapt to a novel circumstance (traffic being in the other side of the road.)

Now, recognizing the problem, I have never driven a car in a country that drives in the wrong side of the road. But I've just been a tourist, and the cost of never driving was low. It's not unreasonable for someone who had moved there to drive. Eventually. After they have learned which way to look for traffic.

That's why I suggested that the best outcome might be for the UK to impose a waiting period between arriving from a country where people drive the other way, and allowing newcomers to drive. Because THAT might reduce the number of future traffic deaths. Make newcomers get used to traffic as pedestrians, where the only life they risk is their own, before seeing them loose with a ton of steel.

Punishing her (and others have said there punishment would likely be a suspended sentence and losing her driver's license) is unlikely to make any difference in the risk of future deaths. And expelling her keeps her off the road.

You feel some need for cosmic "justice". I don't. I just want orderly laws and fewer traffic deaths. Diplomatic immunity is a long-standing rule that does not significantly interfere with orderly laws. Fix the rules to reduce deaths, don't punish people for the sake of punishment.
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I'm pretty bleeding heart, and puzzlegal is making more sense than just about anyone in this thread. It was an accident. People shouldn't go to jail because of an accident, except in pretty exceptional circumstances, and a moment of confusion while driving a car does not constitute "exceptional circumstances."
Agreed. To slightly add to this, any laws about negligence and driving, whether in the US or the UK are not drafted with the inexperienced foreigner in mind. For whatever mistakes or inattention I or my neighbors might make on the road, blasting down the wrong side is not one of them.

I was in Grand Cayman several years ago and thought it would be nice to rent a car to see the island. After about 3 hours I took the car back. Every.single.action I took in the car I had to fight against my instinct to always keep right. Every turn I went around I felt like I was about to kill or be killed. I agree that countries should seriously consider not allowing foreigners to drive for a period of time when arriving from countries who drive on the opposite side of the road from the home country.

So the law, any law like this, is not a good fit for someone fighting their instincts. Most jurors would not be in a position, as they would for a typical crime, to put themselves in the position of the defendant and judge the defendant's action against that of a reasonable person. A juror could understand that he or she should not be drunk and drive or not pay attention to red lights, but cannot truly be a "peer" of someone who just arrived and was trying to comply with local law and custom.

And the outrage is surprising to say the least. I understand that this young man is dead and that is very tragic. But to put this woman on trial for something very human makes little sense and sounds of vengeance instead of punishing wrongdoing.
  #533  
Old Yesterday, 01:19 AM
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That's why I suggested that the best outcome might be for the UK to impose a waiting period between arriving from a country where people drive the other way, and allowing newcomers to drive. Because THAT might reduce the number of future traffic deaths. Make newcomers get used to traffic as pedestrians, where the only life they risk is their own, before seeing them loose with a ton of steel.
Or, if you're new to driving on the other side of the road (and I make no claim to knowing whether this lady was or wasn't), you should have the sense of personal responsibility to do that for yourself.

We come back to the point:

An explanation is not an excuse.

The law here, like it or not, is as it is: whether someone believes it should be different, or thought that it was, is neither here nor there.

Whether or not what happened constitutes a breach of the law as it is can only be determined when all the evidence is heard in court.
  #534  
Old Yesterday, 08:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickLondon View Post
The law here, like it or not, is as it is:
...that people present in the UK covered by diplomatic immunity can only be charged if their country waives that immunity.
Quote:
whether someone believes it should be different, or thought that it was, is neither here nor there.
  #535  
Old Today, 12:58 AM
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TruCelt is offline
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I'm not sure that just being in the country for a few days makes any difference. It's a matter of constant vigilance. When I am driving in Ireland I am literally chanting in my head "to the left, to the left" the entire time I am in the car. It requires a purposeful attention to detail, rather than the usual near-automatic driving one does at home.

I also have the same thing at home for a few days when I arrive back. "On the right, on the right, on the right."

Did the lady in question practice the appropriate level of vigilance? We're never going to get an answer to that, because she does have immunity, and this is not going to trial. I've had to deal with diplomats and their driving habits my whole life. The vast majority are extremely thoughtful and respectful, but a few do exploit their immunity, especially when parking is scarce. You have to watch for their plates and drive defensively, because you can not win no matter what they have done wrong.
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