The family of a teenager who was killed in a road accident with an American woman have attacked a “deeply disturbing” statement in which she refused to return to Britain to face prosecution.
Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US intelligence officer, fled back to her home country after claiming intelligence immunity following the crash in August.
Harry’s family celebrated news that Ms Sacoolas was being charged with causing death by dangerous driving on Friday.
But it was swiftly followed by a statement from Ms Sacoolas’s lawyer saying she will “not return voluntarily to the UK to face a potential jail sentence for what was a terrible but unintentional accident”.
“A criminal prosecution with a potential penalty of 14 years imprisonment is simply not a proportionate response,” Amy Jeffress added.
“Anne is devastated by this tragic accident and continues to extend her deepest condolences to the family. Anne would do whatever she could to bring Harry back.
“She is a mother herself and cannot imagine the pain of the loss of a child. She has cooperated fully with the investigation and accepted responsibility.”
A spokesperson for Harry’s family said the statement “boggles the mind and is deeply disturbing”.
Radd Seiger accused Ms Jeffress of seeking to undermine the British legal system and sought to predict the use of the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving.
“She knows well that this is fair legal system, in fact one of the fairest in the world,” he added.
“To the extent that Ms Jeffress feels her client has a defence to the charge, I would urge on behalf of the family, for Ms Sacoolas to put that defence forward in court here rather than ventilate it publicly. Like everyone else here, she will get a fair trial.”
The Crown Prosecution Service said it had started extradition proceedings, but that the Home Office would decide whether to formally issue its request through US diplomatic channels.
The US State Department previously said it was “disappointed” that the charge had been brought, and feared it would “not bring a resolution closer”.
A spokesperson maintained that Ms Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity at the time of the incident, adding: “It is the position of the United States government that a request to extradite an individual under these circumstances would be an egregious abuse.”
Ms Sacoolas was twice interviewed by Northamptonshire Police, once on the day after the crash and on another occasion by officers who travelled to the US.
Harry’s family have also visited the country in an attempt to gain support and Boris Johnson spoke to Donald Trump about the case to “make clear that what has happened is not acceptable”.
But the US president has publicly defended Ms Sacoolas, saying that driving on the wrong side of the road “can happen” and adding: “It was an accident.”
Harry’s parents met Mr Trump at the White House but the visit sparked controversy after it later emerged that Ms Sacoolas was in the room next door ready to meet them – an offer the teenager’s family refused.
Mr Seiger said Harry’s family have “learned to take whatever the Trump administration says with a pinch of salt”.
“There are extradition proceedings under way, and whether the British authorities’ decision yesterday was helpful or not to the American government, this case will be dealt under the rule of law,” he added.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, welcomed the charge and called for Ms Sacoolas to return to Britain and cooperate with the criminal justice process.
He added: “I welcome the taking of a charging decision which is an important step towards justice for Harry and towards solace for his family, but it is not the end.”