Dunn trial gets the nod: Government and CPS look to hold virtual trial for Anne Sacoolas

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The Government appears to have cleared the way for Anne Sacoolas, the woman suspected of causing teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn’s death, to be tried virtually over his death.

Sacoolas has admitted being behind the wheel of a car that was being driven on the wrong side of the road and has never denied that her negligence caused Harry’s death in August, 2019.

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Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity and fled to the US shortly after the accident, where she has remained ever since.

Despite multiple requests, the American State Department has been resolute in its refusal to grant extradition but it seems this may no longer be an issue, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab agreeing the Government is happy for the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue a ‘virtual trial’.

Speaking to the BBC, Raab said: "The US has not agreed to the extradition, but the path is clear for the legal authorities in the UK to approach Anne Sacoolas’ 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."

Previously it was always the CPS’s position that Sacoolas must return to the UK for a criminal trial to take place. However, Sacoolas has refused repeatedly to return voluntarily, claiming she fears she will not receive a fair hearing.

Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC

If a virtual trial were to take place, Sacoolas would be tried by a British court without ever having to leave the US. This sort of proceedings would be unprecedented in UK law but the way has been cleared due to emergency coronavirus legislation permitting such hearings.

There is now talk of making such hearings permanent, with Director of Public Prosecutions Max Hill QC saying they "stand ready to prosecute by whatever means we can according to the law".

He continued: "There is legislation in place on an interim basis [through the Coronavirus act] and we are aware of provisions in the current ‘Courts bill’… which could enshrine those measures into law.

"We will see what can be developed and we hope for a positive outcome on behalf of everyone in this case but specifically the Dunn family."

And the Dunn family has welcomed the news. Their spokesman Radd Seiger said: "To hear about the path being cleared to a remote trial, with a blessing from Boris Johnson, was brilliant.

US President Joe Biden (left) and Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"It’s very sensitive politically. We had been asked not to discuss it at first because it’s never been done before. Our legal system requires a first appearance physically and you can’t get the ball rolling without it.

"We’ve got an army of lawyers trying to work out what’s next but it might require a tweak to legislation. Obviously the Government is keen to avoid a situation where people hide in foreign countries and just request virtual trials from now on.

"The law doesn’t like exceptional things, it just wants everything within the bounds of the law. But quite frankly I think the Government is so sick of the noise from the people that they’re preparing to change things to make it happen.

"How she does it - from Mars, Timbuktu or at the Old Bailey – we don’t care. What’s important to us is the principle of the criminal justice system running properly. People just can’t walk away with nothing to answer."

Meanwhile, the family is now preparing to travel to the US for deposition in the civil case, which is ongoing and unaffected by the UK criminal case.

Joe Biden "actively engaged" in Harry Dunn Case says Boris Johnson

First published on 11 June 2021 by Ben Clarke

Harry was just 19 when he was killed in the accident

American President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have met ahead of the G7 Summit in Cornwall to discuss a range of issues including the case of Harry Dunn.

Speaking in a television interview with the BBC, the Prime Minister said that Biden was "actively engaged in the case".

"As you know, he has his own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue. And he was extremely sympathetic," added Johnson. "But this is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on.

"But he did express a great deal of sympathy, as indeed this government continues to do for the family of Harry Dunn."

Nineteen-year-old Harry died after his bike was struck by a vehicle driven on the wrong side of the road. Anne Sacoolas admitted being behind the wheel of the vehicle, but fled home to the United States after claiming diplomatic immunity.

It was hoped that when Joe Biden took office in February it might lead to the extradition of Sacoolas but the State Department said at the time that while they acknowledge that an American citizen was involved in a "tragic accident" as far as they were concerned that person had "immunity from criminal jurisdiction". For that reason, they said their "decision in that regard is final".

Dunn family to meet Anne Sacoolas ahead of civil case set to start in July

First published on 30 March 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Anne Sacoolas (left) and Harry Dunn's mum, Charlotte Charles

The family of Harry Dunn are set to meet with the US woman suspected of causing his death for the first time since the teenager was killed.

Anne Sacoolas, who has admitted being behind the wheel at the time, has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

But justice remains outstanding as Sacoolas fled back to her native America having claimed diplomatic immunity shortly after Harry’s death.

As Sacoolas has refused to return to the UK since, and the US government has refused all extradition requests, the family have been forced to pursue a civil case in the American state of Virginia with preliminary hearings due to start on July 23, 2021.

Dunn family reject new Sacoolas deal: Suggestion of doing community service in the US is a non-starter

First published on March 17, 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Justice 4 Harry banner

The family of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn have refused an offer of community service and a monetary contribution from his alleged killer.

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Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Law in Action, Amy Jeffress, the lawyer for suspect Anne Sacoolas, said that it was their understanding that "community service is a typical sentence for offences like this". She added that they initially made this suggestion over a year ago, along with an offer to "make a contribution in Harry’s memory".

Harry was killed in August 2019 when he was struck by a vehicle being driven on the wrong side of the road. Anne Sacoolas admitted she was behind the wheel but fled the UK after claiming diplomatic immunity.

Northampshire Police subsequently charged Sacoolas with causing death by dangerous driving but an extradition request was rejected by the American government in 2020.

In an attempt to defend Sacoolas’ actions, her lawyer said that she "instinctively" drove on the right rather than left side of the road after being here just a few weeks and that it was a "tragic mistake" that she "never denied was her fault".

The lawyer further claimed that because there was no reckless intent, such as drink driving, this sort of incident would not be prosecuted criminally and that may be a factor in why the US has refused her extradition.

The Dunn family have refused Sacoolas’ offer of community service and a payout, saying through their family representative that while they acknowledge she did not intend to kill Harry, she does not simply get to choose her own punishment and should instead return to the UK to face trial.

Justice for Harry Dunn comes a step closer

First published on 10 March, 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Harry was just 19 when he was killed in the accident

A judge in the US has given the Dunn family leave to continue with their civil proceedings against Harry’s alleged killer and her husband.

Nineteen-year-old Harry died after his bike was struck by a vehicle driven on the wrong side of the road. Anne Sacoolas admitted being behind the wheel of the vehicle, but fled home to the United States after claiming diplomatic immunity. With prospects of a criminal case low in the UK, the Dunn family have been pursuing a civil case in the US.

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Sacoolas' lawyers have made numerous attempts to have the claim thrown out but they have all been unsuccessful. In the latest update, a Virginia court has ruled that the Dunns can claim against Sacoolas’ husband Jonathan as Virginia’s laws allow "vicarious liability" because he permitted his wife to use his car, which was then involved in the crash.

Unless there is a settlement, the case will proceed to court with the next stage witness statements (known as depositions), which would force the Sacoolas side to provide their account of the events. The US court system provides for face-to-face depositions, which could see the Dunn family in the same room as Anne Sacoolas for the first time.

The Dunns’ MP, Andrea Leadsom, raised the issue again with the Prime Minister last week. She said Boris Johnson maintained that the Government "continue to raise it at the highest level" adding that Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has discussed it with his opposite in the US, Anthony Blinken.

Harry Dunn: Judge dismisses Sacoolas objections

First published on 17 February, 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

A judge has ruled that Harry Dunn’s family can pursue a civil claim against his alleged killer Anne Sacoolas. Sacoolas has admitted that she was behind the wheel of the car that struck the teenage motorcyclist while it was being driven on the wrong side of the road. Sacoolas then fled back to the US having claimed diplomatic immunity.

With extradition refused by the American State Dept. the Dunn family have begun civil proceedings in the US to claim for damages. Sacoolas had tried to have the case dismissed in the US, claiming that holding the proceedings in the UK would be "more convenient".

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However the judge ruled against Sacoolas pointing out that she had said at the same time her reason for not returning to the UK was that she was concerned should would not "receive fair treatment". As part of his judgement, he 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."

The case has had the support of the British government, with the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, writing to the judge to express hope they would permit the case.

The case has also raised questions over Sacoolas’ immunity claims. Sacoolas was able to claim immunity as the spouse of a CIA officer stationed in the UK. However as part of the trial, it emerged that Sacoolas was herself working in intelligence at the time. If she we were working at the base, she would not have been afforded immunity. Downing St. have said they were not aware Sacoolas was an intelligence officer.

Further motions for the dismissal of the case by Sacoolas' defence team will be heard on March 3.

Biden won’t budge on Dunn: New administration say decision 'final'

First published on 3 February, 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Hopes that the new American president Joe Biden would extradite Harry Dunn’s alleged killer have been dashed. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke with the new Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, last week and raised the issue of America’s refusal to allow extradition proceedings for Anne Sacoolas.

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The Foreign Office have said that the refusal amounts to a "denial of justice" however the State Department said that while they acknowledge that an American citizen was involved in a "tragic accident" as far as they were concerned that person had "immunity from criminal jurisdiction". For that reason, they said their "decision in that regard is final".

Harry Dunn was killed in August 2019 when he was struck by a car that was being driven on the wrong side of the road. American citizen Anne Sacoolas admitted being behind the wheel of the car at the time of the accident.

Harry Dunn was just 19 when he was killed in the accident

She was interviewed at the scene and then at home a few days later, where she first mentioned that she had diplomatic immunity as the wife of an American diplomat who worked at RAF Croughton.

The police applied to the Foreign Office for an immunity waiver but before they heard back, Sacoolas had fled back to the US where she has subsequently remained.

Any attempt to have Sacoolas returned to the UK to face justice has so far failed, with the US refusing extradition. The family have been pursuing the case through the courts, with the next step due at the Court of Appeal later this year.

CPS stick with Dunn case: immunity rule won't alter prosecution

First published on 6 January, 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

A Justice 4 Harry banner

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has told the parents of Harry Dunn that it will carry on pursuing his alleged killer, despite the High Court recently ruling that the US citizen did have diplomatic immunity at the time of his death.

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Harry was killed in August 2019 when he was struck by a vehicle travelling on the wrong side of the road. Anne Sacoolas admitted being in charge of the vehicle at the time of the collision but fled the country having claimed diplomatic immunity.

Regardless of this setback, the CPS charged Sacoolas with causing the teenage motorcyclist’s death by dangerous driving and began extradition proceedings. Despite this meeting the American requirements for extradition, the US government has twice refused extradition and described its ruling as final.

The family had sought to have Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity overturned in court, however the family was dealt a blow in November when the High Court ruled Sacoolas did in fact have immunity at the time. The family have subsequently appealed, with their hearing in the Court of Appeal expected to begin in the summer.

Independent of the on-going legal wrangling over Sacoolas’ immunity, Janine Smith, Chief prosecutor for the East Midlands, has written to the Dunn family recently saying she was "satisfied that there remains sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction". 

She also added that the CPS "remains of the view that Mrs Sacoolas should return to the UK to stand trial".

Meanwhile, a judge at the Old Bailey has ruled not to extradite WikiLeaks Co-founder, Julian Assange, to face trial in America on espionage and hacking charges. Dunn Family spokesperson, Radd Seiger said: "It is obvious to everyone just how imbalanced the extradition arrangements are between the USA and the UK. The Americans appear to think that they can snap their fingers and demand that anyone be sent to the USA for trial whilst simultaneously refusing to comply with their own obligations…

"Harry’s parents’ position is very simple. No one in Britain must be extradited until such a time as Anne Sacoolas is extradited back to the UK."

Raab supports Dunn family struggle: Foreign Secretary offers financial lifeline

First published on December 21, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has backed the family of Harry Dunn in their attempt to pursue his alleged killer in the US courts.

The relationship between the Dunn family and Raab has been strained at times, with Raab refusing to speak to Harry’s father Tim at a hustings last year. The atmosphere soured further when the Government threatened the family with huge legal bills.

However, in a letter sent to Harry’s parents, Raab said he was a supporter of their attempt to pursue Anne Sacoolas in the American courts and even offered funding for their travel and accommodation. The letter has only just come to light as court papers in the US are being examined.

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The family have turned to the American judicial system after coming up against a brick wall in the UK. Having left the country under diplomatic immunity following Harry’s death, Anne Sacoolas, who has admitted being both on the wrong side of the road and behind the wheel of the vehicle that struck Harry, has refused to return to the UK to face justice.

With the Americans rejecting two extradition attempts, the family are attempting a civil case in Virginia, where Sacoolas lives. Sacoolas’ lawyers are currently attempting to have the case dismissed.

In the letter to the family Raab wrote: "I strongly support your right to bring this case… As we have said publicly, we believe that what has happened in Harry’s case amounts to a denial of justice.

"In comparable circumstances, the UK would waive immunity. I hope therefore your action in the United States is able to proceed."

Dunn family lose immunity review - will appeal decision

First published on 24 November, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

A photo of Harry Dunn

The family of Harry Dunn, a teenage motorcyclist killed outside RAF Croughton in August 2019, have lost their High Court review into whether his alleged killer had diplomatic immunity. 

Dunn was killed when he was struck by a car that was allegedly being driven on the wrong side of the road by Anne Sacoolas. After the incident, she left the country having claimed diplomatic immunity. She has subsequently been charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

The family had appealed to the High Court in an attempt to prove that the Foreign Office was wrong to say she had immunity and allowing her to return the US. However they have lost their review this morning.

Reacting to the decision, Harry's mother Charlotte Charles said: "Right from the start our team have advised us that Anna Sacoolas did not have diplomatic immunity when she killed Harry and that advice is just as strong now as it was at the start of our campaign. It's obviously disappointing that this court did not find in our favour but we are more focused now that ever on fulfilling that promise."

Radd Seiger, the family spokesman, has said they intend to appeal the ruling immediately.

This story is breaking now and we will update it once we know more.

"This cannot be allowed to stand" - MP pleads directly to Trump on anniversary of Harry Dunn’s death

Previous update September 2020 by Justin Hayzeldon

Andrea Leadsome with the Dunn family

Motorcyclists from across the country came together at RAF Croughton last Thursday in a show of support for the family of Harry Dunn and to remember the much-loved teenager at a candlelight vigil on the first anniversary of his death.

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Over 600 were expected to attend and that number appeared to hold true as an impassioned band of bikers braved the rain to complete three 10-mile laps around the USAF communications station under an enthusiastic escort from Northamptonshire Police motorcycle division.

Local MP Andrea Leadsom spoke to the press alongside family representative Radd Seiger before the ride rolled out.

"I never had the pleasure of meeting him myself, but I can see how very loved Harry Dunn was," said Leadsom. "Something terrible happened and the person who caused Harry’s death has walked away with the help and support of the United States government.

"That simply cannot be allowed to stand, so I want to make an appeal to you Mr President - please, give this family closure. Give them the virtual trial and the justice that they are demanding for their son, Harry."

Harry Dunn ride out

Mrs Leadsom’s quote comes on the back of news that the Attorney General, Suella Braverman, is considering either a virtual trial, or holding Sacoolas’ trail in her absence.

"I admire this family," said Seiger. "Their courage and fortitude in the face of the most appalling adversity has inspired the whole nation."

Referencing a statement from Washington received earlier that day that he said signalled an attempt to try to end the impasse, Mr Seiger concluded: "We’re not imagining for a single second that there isn’t more campaigning and fighting to do, but we are incredibly positive and optimistic today, more so than ever, that there will be justice for Harry."

Harry Dunn ride organsiers

Harry’s brother, Kieran Charles, helped to organise the anniversary ride along with Simon Clarke. "I thought the turnout was fantastic and the perfect way to commemorate Harry," he said, with Simon adding that "it was a historic thing to do."

Harry’s life was tragically cut short when he was involved in a fatal collision with a car being driven on the wrong side of the road just a few hundred yards from the base, and the fight continues to have the car driver, Anne Sacoolas, brought back to the UK to stand trial.

Harry Dunn update: Sacoolas could face ‘virtual trial’

First published on August 17, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Justice 4 Harry banner

The Government have been asked to consider a ‘virtual trial’ for Anne Sacoolas, the woman charged with causing the death by dangerous driving of 19-year-old rider Harry Dunn in August last year.

US citizen Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity following the collision outside RAF Croughton and attempts to get her back to the UK to face trial have so far failed. In January, the US Secretary of State refused extradition proceedings, but he did agree later to rewriting the treaty containing the loophole that allowed her to return to the US.

Now Andrea Leadsom MP, whose constituency includes RAF Croughton, has written to the Home Secretary, the Solicitor General, the Foreign Secretary and the Crown Prosecution Service to ask if Sacoolas could be tried virtually, or in absentia.

Should she be convicted Mrs Leadsom believes it would be possible for her to serve her sentence in the US, under an existing agreement, as death by dangerous driving is a crime in the US with equivalent sentencing.

"We are no longer talking about ‘if’ Anne Sacoolas comes back to face the justice system but how," family spokesman, Radd Seiger told Sky News. "As far as I’m aware [a virtual trial] would be totally unprecedented and I suspect that’s something that needs to be worked through.

"As far as the family are concerned, it’s about that promise that Charlotte [Harry’s mother] made to him and that’s that justice must be done."

As the anniversary of Harry’s death approaches, his brother Ciaran is organising a rideout in his honour. All are welcome to the event at RAF Croughton, which will see bikers congregate at 6pm on Thursday, August 27. The route will take riders past the spot Harry lost his life. For more info, see the Justice4Harry Facebook page.

Immunity loophole closed

First published on 22 July 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Harry Dunn family

The loophole that allowed the woman charged with Harry Dunn’s death to leave the country is to be closed, the government has announced. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has been in the UK and met with officials from the UK government, including the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab.

Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a CIA agent working at RAF Croughton, was allowed to return to the US after claiming diplomatic immunity following the death of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn. She has subsequently been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, however the American government have twice refused to permit extradition proceedings.

Sacoolas was able to leave after the US government claimed she had diplomatic immunity, despite an existing treaty waiving diplomatic immunity for those at the base. However the treaty makes no reference to dependents, leading to disagreements as to whether she had diplomatic immunity or not.

In a written statement to parliament, Raab said: "We have secured the agreement of the US, so that the Croughton arrangements could not in future be used in the same away as in the tragic case of Harry Dunn. These changes took effect by way of an exchange of notes on 20 July."

He also added that the American base has agree to providing driver training for newly stationed personnel, as well as an increase in signage to remind people to drive on the left.

Dunn family 'humbled' by biking community 

First published on 22 April, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

In August last year, 19-year-old Harry Dunn lost his life after being knocked off his bike. What’s happened since has been a media circus centred on Anne Sacoolas, the woman charged with causing his death by dangerous driving, after she left the country having claimed diplomatic immunity.

Amidst all the of confusion and political squabbles, the simple case of a young lad suffering an untimely death has all but been forgotten. MCN spoke with Radd Seiger, the Dunn family representative, this week about what has happened over the last nine months and what the bereaved family are going to do next.

"First of all I want to say we are just humbled by this community," says Seiger. "And I want to say how touched we are. The support motorcyclists give each other when something goes wrong is extraordinary."

Justice 4 Harry banner

Seiger, a former lawyer who "got sick and tired of defending the bad guys" before becoming a road safety advocate, has been advising the family and speaking on their behalf since shortly after Harry’s death. He has known the family for years and knew Harry from when he was a small boy.

"People might have seen this case and made the mistake of thinking Harry was inexperienced – he wasn’t. He was obsessed with bikes from a young age. He passed his test on his 16th birthday. The day after, the family was due to go on holiday. Harry refused to be driven there – he rode all the way on his scooter, which took him over nine hours. Over the next three years he covered nearly 50,000 miles.

"It’s clear that Harry didn’t make a mistake. How many near misses have we had since Harry died? It’s not about ‘wrong way’ driving it’s about sub-standard driving. I have an American licence and a British one – compared to the UK, the American test is a joke. It took about ten minutes.

"I get pissed off with any road tragedy. I never call them accidents because that implies it wasn’t preventable. What happened to Harry was entirely preventable."

A warning sign near RAF Croughton

At the end of the last century, the CIA wanted to deploy officers to RAF Croughton. To allow that to happen, the British Government asked that anyone coming over waived their right to diplomatic immunity – it’s worth noting at this point that diplomatic immunity was designed to prevent the persecution of diplomats stationed in unfriendly countries, not for people to get away with committing crimes and misdemeanours.

The issue is that the document which enabled the deployment makes no mention of dependents, so while Sacoolas’ husband definitely has no claim to diplomatic immunity, whether she herself had it is a contentious issue. It’s a situation which the Foreign Office’s most senior civil servant, Sir Simon McDonald, described as "highly illogical".

"Most people aren’t lawyers, so this is very complicated but at the centre of it we believe she did not have diplomatic immunity and she was allowed to leave," says Seiger. "What they didn’t expect was motorcyclists to rally round this little family and blow it all out of the water. Even if the family was to become tired of the campaign, we know motorcyclists would pick it up. As well as our quest for justice, we also want some positives to come out of it.

"We want to be sure this never happens to another family. We have a few objectives but mostly we want to focus on changes to the diplomatic immunity laws and also changes within the NHS, so no one else has to wait at the side of the road for 45 minutes before an ambulance arrives."

Radd Seiger - 'Sacoolas will be back'

Radd Seiger

"The bottom line is that this lady did not have diplomatic immunity. We’ve begun the process for a judicial review into the decisions made at the Foreign Office and as part of that, they’ve had to release some documents. What we’ve seen so far are internal memos saying that she didn’t have diplomatic immunity.

"Yet they told Northants police that she did – completely contradicting the memos sent to Government ministers. That’s what we’re challenging in the courts.

"Once the judicial review finds Sacoolas didn’t have immunity, and we’re confident it will, we can renew our campaign to have Sacoolas returned to the UK.

"I keep saying Sacoolas will be back – I don’t say when because it could be years, but I know she will be back."

Diplomatic immunity was "illogical" says Foreign Office's most senior civil servant

First published on April 23 by Jordan Gibbons

Harry Dunn with his motorcycle test pass certificate

The British Government let Anne Sacoolas, the woman charged with killing 19-year-old biker Harry Dunn, return to the US because of an "apparently illogical" reading of the diplomatic immunity laws according to the Foreign Office’s most senior civil servant.

The statement by Sir Simon McDonald, the Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, was given to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and will no doubt recharge the Dunn family hopes of mounting a judicial review into the way the Foreign Office handled the case.

Sacoolas is accused of causing death by reckless driving, however immediately after the accident she claimed diplomatic immunity as the wife of a CIA agent working at RAF Croughton. She was allowed to return to the US but the Crown Prosecution Service has subsequently charged her. However the US Government has refused the extradition request.

Since then it has emerged that UK Foreign Office lawyers discussed her status with the US State Deparment and accepted their reading of the law, despite advising British ministers there was legal ambiguity about her standing.

Speaking to the Select Committee, McDonald said: "In the case of Harry Dunn, the controversy was over an agreement made at the end of the last century over continuing immunities for US diplomats posted at the Croughton annex.

"In that agreement the American authorities gave a pre-waiver for accredited diplomats so that was the formal position, but that agreement was silent on the rights of their dependents, and that has been the origin of a lot of the dispute. But our legal advice is that when an agreement is silent on something, then what pertained before still applies – i.e. immunity."

McDonald told committee members the interpretation was "illogical" because the lawyers had decided that even though the immunity of the diplomat working at the base had been waived by the US in the agreement, that of the dependent had not. The result is that his wife supposedly enjoyed greater immunity than he did. A subsequent review has concluded this is anomalous and the UK is now seeking to rewrite the agreement.

March 14 Harry Dunn protest cancelled in favour of three simultaneous May 1 rides

First published 3 March 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

A mass ride to the US embassy in London in aid of Harry Dunn on March 14 has been cancelled in favour of three simultaneous trips on Friday May 1 to the US embassy and US consulates in Edinburgh and Belfast. Each group will meet outside their respective embassies at 1pm.

Harry died in August after a collision between his bike and a car outside RAF Croughton, Northants. The driver, Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US intelligence officer, returned to the US. The US have refused extradition due to diplomatic immunity. More details to follow.

Protest ride for Harry Dunn - riders to congregate at US embassy in London

First published 26 February 2020 by Andy Calton

A protest ride is to be held on Saturday, March 14, in memory of biker Harry Dunn, who was killed in August last year. The Justice4Harry Green Ribbon Campaign Protest Run will meet on Victoria Embankment at 1pm before setting off towards the US embassy on Nine Elms via Parliament Square, Whitehall and Vauxhall bridge.

Harry was killed when riding past RAF Croughton in August last year and it is believed American citizen Anne Sacoolas was responsible for his death after she allegedly drove out of the base on the wrong side of the road. Despite telling the police she had no intention of leaving the country, she flew back to the US days later under the protection of diplomatic immunity.

Hope had been raised for the Dunn family after the CPS decided to charge Mrs Sacoolas late last year and subsequently applied for the right to extradite her. However the family were dealt a further blow after the US State Department denied the UK’s request for extradition.

The only option remaining would be to hold a trial in absentia and, should she be found guilty, she would effectively be unable to travel outside of the US without risk of being brought to the UK to serve her sentence.

Since the incident, footage has emerged of numerous vehicles on the wrong side of the road around the base, including one car turning straight out of the base on to the right hand side of the road. Despite this commotion, little has been done and the Foreign Office has refused requests for a public inquiry.

There has already been a protest outside RAF Croughton (pictured below) but organisers of the London ride are hoping for a far bigger turnout.

Harry Dunn protest ride

Suspect in fatal motorbike crash uses diplomatic privilege to flee country

First published 08 October 2019 by Andy Calton

The family of a motorcyclist who was killed in an accident outside an RAF base are fighting for justice after the named suspect fled the country using diplomatic immunity status.

Harry Dunn, 19, died after colliding with a car that was being driven on the wrong side of the road. Harry was riding on the B4031 Park End, Croughton, Northants, when he was hit by the car.

Northamptonshire Police have named the suspect as Anne Sacoolas, 42, the wife of a US diplomat – who was questioned at the time of the accident on August 27, but who has since fled back to America.

Now the family is fighting for to have Sacoolas brought back to the UK so that the investigation into the collision can continue. Their battle is supported by Foreign Secretary Dominac Raab, and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

Speaking to the BBC, Johnson said: "I do not think it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose. I hope Anne Sacoolas will come back and engage properly with the processes of law as they are carried out in this country.

"We are raising this with the American Ambassador in the UK, and I hope it will be resolved very shortly. If we can’t resolve it, I will be raising it personally with the White House."

Harry Dunn's parents

Northants Police said that Sacoolas had agreed not to leave the country when initially questioned. Supt Sarah Johnson confirmed: "We are exploring all opportunities through diplomatic channels to ensure the investigation continues. Harry Dunn’s family deserve justice."

Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold, also confirmed that he "had written, in the strongest terms, to the US Embassy urging them to apply the diplomatic immunity waiver."

With extraordinary dignity, Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, was interviewed on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, saying: "[It was] unintentional. She didn’t purposely drive on the other side of the road... if she’d have stayed and faced us as a family we could have found that forgiveness... but forgiving her for leaving, I’m nowhere near."

The US State Department has confirmed that it is in discussions with British officials and is reported to have conveyed its "deepest sympathies" to Dunn’s family following the accident.

A crowdfunding page set up to help raise funds to cover any legal costs has almost reached  £10,000 (gofundme/justice4harry).

What is diplomatic immunity?

Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal protection afforded under the 1961 Vienna Convention.

It states that diplomats and family members are immune from prosecution in their host country, as long as they are not nationals of that country.

However, their immunity can be waived by the country that employs them. Diplomats are obliged to respect the laws of their host country, but the provision can be misused as a 'get out of jail free' card.

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in News…

Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.