‘Path clear’ to virtual trial of US diplomat’s wife over Harry Dunn crash death

News

Britain will pursue a virtual trial of an American diplomat’s wife in the death of a teenager outside a US military base in Northamptonshire.

Anne Sacoolas, 42, flew home to the US just days after Harry Dunn, 19, was killed when her car – driving on the wrong side of the road – crashed into his motorbike.

She has since been charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that while the US has blocked the extradition of Sacoolas to face charges stemming from the collision, the path is now clear for the UK to push for a form of “virtual trial or process” to provide accountability and justice for Mr Dunn’s family.

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said US President Joe Biden was “actively engaged” and “extremely sympathetic” about the case after face-to-face meeting at the G7 summit in Cornwall this week.

Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The US has not agreed to the extradition, but the path is clear for the legal authorities in the UK to approach Anne Sacoolas’s lawyers – without any problem from the US government – to see whether some kind of virtual trial or process could allow some accountability and some solace and some justice for the Dunn family.

“I would like to see some accountability. I think the family deserve no less.”

Mr Dunn died in August 2019 when a car crashed into his motorbike outside RAF Croughton, a base used by US personnel.

The aftermath sparked an international controversy when Sacoolas, who worked at the base for the US State Department, had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf – allowing her to leave the UK nine days after the crash.

Speaking after Mr Raab’s announcement, Mr Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles told LBC that she and her family “very much welcome the news”.

She added: “It means that there are no hurdles to get over now.

“We’re so grateful to the politicians for clearing the path so we’ll just leave it all to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) now and wait to hear from them as to what the next steps will be.”

Mr Biden’s first wife and daughter were killed in a road crash in 1972, while his sons Beau and Hunter survived.

Ms Charles added: “We are all suffering intensely as a family and really need a resolution as soon as possible and now await to hear from the CPS as to what steps they plan to take next.

“We have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes having dialogue with as many people on both sides of the Atlantic as possible and believe that these efforts will help us in our search for justice.

“It is almost two years since we lost Harry in August 2019 and it would be lovely to think that all parties can now come together to help bring this living nightmare to an end so that we can try to rebuild our shattered lives.”

After discussing the matter with Mr Biden, Mr Johnson told the BBC: “As you know, he has his own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue.

“And he was extremely sympathetic, but this is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on.”

The Dunn family has challenged the diplomatic immunity asserted on Sacoolas’s behalf, which will be heard in the Court of Appeal next year.

Ms Charles and Mr Dunn’s father Tim Dunn have also brought a civil claim against Sacoolas and her husband in the US state of Virginia.

Speaking after the meeting of Mr Biden and Mr Johnson, Ms Charles said: “We are incredibly grateful that Harry’s case is being taken so seriously as to be raised on the eve of the G7 meeting with so many worldwide crises going on.

“We very much hope that President Biden takes a different view to the previous administration given his deeply personal connection to the case having suffered loss in similar circumstances.”

“We are all suffering intensely as a family and really need a resolution as soon as possible and now await to hear from the CPS as to what steps they plan to take next.

“We have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes having dialogue with as many people on both sides of the Atlantic as possible and believe that these efforts will help us in our search for justice.

“It is almost two years since we lost Harry in August 2019 and it would be lovely to think that all parties can now come together to help bring this living nightmare to an end so that we can try to rebuild our shattered lives.”