Harry Dunn's mother is 'very confident' criminal case will take place

Harry Dunn’s mother says she is ‘very confident’ criminal case will now take place against his ‘killer’ Anne Sacoolas and tells of ‘enormous relief’ at reaching resolution in damages claim

  • Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn reached a ‘resolution’ in civil claim yesterday
  • It came as PM said Joe Biden had been ‘personally trying to move things along’ 
  • Anne Sacoolas, 44, was able to leave UK following crash that killed 19-year-old
  • Extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected in January 2020

The mother of Harry Dunn has spoken of her ‘enormous relief’ at finding a resolution in a damages claim filed against her son’s alleged killer.

Charlotte Charles said balancing a criminal and a civil case had ‘taken so much of our energy and resources’, adding she was ‘very confident’ criminal proceedings would take place against 44-year-old Anne Sacoolas.

At the White House yesterday, Boris Johnson said US President Joe Biden had been ‘personally trying to move things along’ in the case and he was ‘grateful for that’.

The two leaders met on the day the 19-year-old’s parents, Ms Charles and Tim Dunn, reached a ‘resolution’ in their civil claim in the US against Sacoolas for damages.

The suspect was charged with causing death by dangerous driving following a road crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019.

Diplomatic immunity was asserted on Sacoolas’ behalf by the US Government and she was able to return to her home country 19 days after the collision.

An extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by the US State Department in January last year.

Harry Dunn (pictured above), 19, was killed when a car crashed into his motorbike outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27, 2019

Diplomatic immunity was asserted on Anne Sacoolas’ behalf by the US Government and the 44-year-old (pictured) was able to return to her home country 19 days after the collision

Ms Charles said: ‘It’s an enormous relief for my family and I to have reached a resolution in the civil case with the other side.

‘It’s taken so much of our energy and resources and been stressful having to travel to the US in the middle of the pandemic.

‘We can now focus on the criminal case and we are very confident that is going to happen now.

‘We really need to try to take small steps forward for our mental health. We have achieved so much but there is still so much more to do.

‘We have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to reflect on all our achievements, and while we wait for the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) I really want to spend some time with my family just absorbing all the successes of the campaign and to try to be kind to ourselves.

‘Every day is still a struggle. Just getting out of bed sometimes or even simple things like figuring out what to eat can be overwhelming.

‘We just miss Harry so much and our hearts are broken. We hope they will mend one day and we can begin to get back to some sort of normality but not until after the prosecution and the inquest into Harry’s death.

‘We still have so many questions that need answering.’

Charlotte Charles (left) and Tim Dunn, the parents of Harry Dunn, have reached a resolution for damages in a civil claim against their son’s alleged killer Anne Sacoolas

Liz Truss (pictured boarding RAF Voyager on Sunday), the new Foreign Secretary, said the civil case resolution was ‘absolutely not’ the end of the fight for Sacoolas to return to the UK

Timeline of events following Harry Dunn’s death 

27 August 2019: Harry Dunn, 19, killed while riding his motorcycle near Croughton, Northamptonshire near the exit to RAF Croughton, when it collided with a car travelling in the opposite direction.

28 August 2019: Suspect Anne Sacoolas is interviewed by police. Northamptonshire police request a diplomatic immunity waiver.

16 September 2019: Foreign office informs police that the waiver had been declined and that Sacoolas had left the UK on a US Air Force aircraft.

15 October 2019: Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn take their campaign for justice to the US where they meet with President Trump at the White House. They refuse meet the suspect, who was waiting in a room next door.

31 October 2019: Northamptonshire police interview Sacoolas in the US after requesting permission to do so.

25 November 2019: Dunn’s parents submit a judicial review of the Foreign Secretary’s actions over the extension of diplomatic immunity to intelligence staff and families at RAF Croughton.

20 December 2019: Crown Prosecution Service announces that Sacoolas to be charged with causing death by dangerous driving and that it was starting extradition proceedings against her. 

10 January: Home Office formally requests the extradition of Sacoolas to face charges in the United Kingdom. 

23 January: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally rejects request for extradition.

28 April: Charlotte and Tim write a letter to the US Government, urging it to change its mind on the diplomatic immunity granted to Sacoolas. 

11 May: An Interpol Red Notice is issued for Sacoolas’ arrest.   

May 12: The US State Department says the decision not to extradite Sacoolas is ‘final’ after Interpol notice claims.

May 20: Mr Dunn’s mother calls for Mr Raab’s resignation.

July 22: Mr Raab announces the ‘anomaly’ which allowed Sacoolas to claim diplomatic immunity following the road crash that killed Mr Dunn has been amended.

August 25: The Lord Chancellor said Attorney General Suella Braverman was considering the possibility of trying Sacoolas virtually or in her absence.

September 9: Mr Dunn’s parents file a civil claim against Sacoolas in the US.

September 10: Sacoolas’s legal representatives admit the suspect had been driving on the wrong side of the road for 20 seconds prior to the crash.

November 24: Mr Dunn’s parents lose their High Court battle with the Foreign Office over the diplomatic immunity asserted on behalf of Sacoolas. 

January 24: The Foreign Office apologises after ‘unprofessional and unacceptable language’ was used by officials in internal emails about Mr Dunn’s bereaved family.

January 28: New US President Joe Biden’s administration maintains the position that the decision not to extradite Sacoolas is ‘final’.

February 4: The Alexandria District Court in Virginia hears Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan’s work in intelligence was a ‘factor’ in their departure from the UK after the road crash.

March 9: Sacoolas’s lawyer says the suspect is willing to complete community service.

June 12: Mr Raab says the UK Government would be seeking a ‘virtual trial or process’ for Sacoolas.

July 2: Mr Dunn’s parents give evidence under oath in their ‘depositions’ as part of the civil claim for damages filed in the US.

September 21: Mr Dunn’s parents and Sacoolas reach a ‘resolution’ in the civil claim for damages filed in the US.

September 22: Mr Dunn’s mother says she is ‘very confident’ a criminal case will take place against Sacoolas.

Mr Biden weighed in after the resolution in the civil claim was reached.

Sitting next to Mr Johnson in the Oval Office, the president told reporters: ‘That case is being worked on.

‘I was under the impression there had been a civil settlement reached, but I don’t know that. Based on what I’ve been told it was not an intentional act. But I will follow up on that.’ 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told reporters an agreement in the damages claim was ‘absolutely not’ the end of the matter.

Speaking on the train to Washington where she will meet Mr Biden, Ms Truss was asked if the resolution of the civil case in the UK was the end of the road for the British effort for Sacoolas’ return.

She said: ‘Absolutely not. We continue to press for justice for Harry.’

The details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but family spokesman Radd Seiger said the resolution means Mr Dunn’s parents can turn their focus to the pending criminal case.

Confirming a resolution had been reached in the civil damages claim, Mr Seiger said yesterday: ‘It has come as some considerable relief to them that a resolution to the civil claim has been now been reached successfully between the parties and they can put this part of the campaign behind them.

‘It is never easy mounting a legal battle for justice abroad, let alone in the USA, but the family’s courage and determination to see this through has been incredible.

‘They have been supported throughout the claim by (ex-Foreign Secretary) Dominic Raab and his excellent officials at the FCDO and we are very grateful to them for all their help. 

‘We have been made aware that the US Government made no secret of their displeasure at the British Government’s backing of Harry’s family in bringing the claim.’

Meanwhile, Ms Truss said she had raised the case of Mr Dunn with US secretary of state Antony Blinken.

The damages claim, brought against Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan, unearthed a great deal of previously unheard material, such as the State Department roles held by the couple at the time of the crash.

Alexandria District Court in the US state of Virginia heard the pair’s work in intelligence was a ‘factor’ in their departure from the UK, as they left for ‘security reasons’.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Sacoolas have been approached for comment.

The Dunn family were previously advised that, although there could be no criminal proceedings in the US, they could bring a civil claim for damages against Sacoolas as her immunity was no longer valid when she returned to her home country.

Lawyers acting on behalf of Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan attempted to throw the case out on the grounds it should be heard in the UK, despite admitting she would not agree to face trial due to a ‘concern’ she would not ‘receive fair treatment’.

Judge Thomas Ellis dismissed Sacoolas’ submissions that the UK was a ‘more convenient’ forum, keeping the case in Virginia – describing the motion as ‘not warranted’.

Mr Dunn’s parents then flew out to the US to give evidence under oath as part of the ‘discovery’ process.

In his judgment which threw out Sacoolas’ motion to dismiss the claim, Judge Ellis said: ‘While it is commendable that defendant Anne Sacoolas admits that she was negligent and that her negligence caused Harry Dunn’s death, this does not equate acceptance of responsibility.

‘Full acceptance of responsibility entails facing those harmed by her negligence and taking responsibility for her acts where they occurred, in the United Kingdom.’

If the case had not been resolved, Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan would have had to have gone through a process known as a ‘deposition’ in which they would have been compelled to give evidence under oath. 

The court earlier heard Sacoolas had not returned to the UK due to a ‘fear’ that because of the ‘media attention, she would not have a fair trial’.

Her lawyer John McGavin said she was ‘currently apologetic’ and ‘accepted responsibility for the accident’.

However, the Dunn family’s main objective was for Sacoolas to face a criminal charge through the UK justice system.  

Former foreign secretary Dominic Raab said a path had been cleared for a ‘virtual trial or process’ to take place and Harry’s parents remain hopeful Sacoolas will take part in a criminal process. 

Spokesman Radd Seiger for the family of Mr Dunn, flanked by mother Charlotte and father Tim, speaking to the media in August last year

The court earlier heard Sacoolas (above) had not returned to the UK due to a ‘fear’ that because of the ‘media attention, she would not have a fair trial’

The trip to the UN General Assembly is Ms Truss’s first overseas visit since she was elevated to the role of Foreign Secretary at Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle last week. 

Mr Blinken had visited the UK back in May of this year when he held talks with Ms Truss’s predecessor, Mr Raab. 

Ms Truss and Mr Blinken ‘discussed the close partnership between the UK and the USA and their shared ambitions to build a stronger economic and security alliance between the two countries’.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘As two leading free enterprise democracies they recognised the shared common ground between the UK and USA on a wide range of areas including the Indo-Pacific and regional security there and the need to build back better from the Covid pandemic.

The Foreign Secretary met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (pictured on September 16) as she attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York

‘They discussed how they could use the Build Back Better World initiative to provide developing countries with reliable investment to meet their infrastructure needs in a sustainable way.’

The pair also ‘welcomed the recently agreed AUKUS partnership on security in the Indo-Pacific region’.

The defence pact between the US, the UK and Australia will see the latter secure its first ever fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

But the deal has sparked a furious diplomatic row with France because Canberra has backed out of a deal with Paris to buy a fleet of diesel-electric submarines.

Ms Truss and Mr Blinken also discussed the US decision to allow fully vaccinated British travellers to visit the country from November and ‘discussed the ongoing situation in Afghanistan’.

They also agreed that Iran must grant the immediate release of all arbitrarily detained British and American nationals.

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