Liz Truss has ordered Harry Dunn’s alleged killer Anne Sacoolas to return to the UK to face justice, after the teenager’s family reached a ‘resolution’ with the diplomat’s wife in a civil claim for damages.
The new Foreign Secretary said the agreement was ‘absolutely not’ the end of the fight to get Sacoolas to return to the UK over the the death of Harry.
Speaking to reporters on the train to Washington where she will meet with Joe Biden, Ms Truss was asked if the resolution of the civil case in the US was the end of the road for the British effort for Sacoolas’s return.
She replied: ‘Absolutely not. We continue to press for justice for Harry.’
It comes after the Dunn family’s spokesman Radd Seiger said an agreement had been ‘reached successfully between the parties and they can put this part of the campaign behind them’.
The details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but Mr Seiger said a resolution in the civil claim means Harry’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, will now turn their focus to a criminal case.
Sacoolas, 44, was able to leave the UK following the fatal road crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27, 2019, after diplomatic immunity was asserted on her behalf by the US Government.
The diplomat’s wife, who is charged with causing 19-year-old Harry’s death by dangerous driving, was due to give evidence under oath last month as part of the damages claim until a last minute postponement.
Harry Dunn, 19, was killed when a car crashed into his motorbike outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27, 2019
Sacoolas, 44, was able to leave the UK following the fatal road crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27, 2019
The new Foreign Secretary said the civil case resolution was ‘absolutely not’ the end of the fight to get Sacoolas to return to the UK over the the death of Harry
Confirming a resolution had been reached in the damages claim, he said: ‘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.’
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.
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’.
Mr Seiger continued: ‘The family feel they can now turn their attention to the criminal case and the long-awaited inquest into Harry’s death which will follow the criminal case.
‘There will also need to be a parliamentary inquiry into this scandal in due course.
‘Harry’s family will never be able to move on from his loss, but they are more determined than ever to continue to move forward.
‘This is a pivotal point in the campaign, a real milestone. But there is much work left to be done before justice for Harry can be said to be done.’
Lawyers acting on behalf of Sacoolas have been approached for comment.
The US Government asserted diplomatic immunity on Anne Sacoolas’s behalf and she was able to return to the US shortly after Harry’s death.
An extradition request was then submitted by the Home Office but that was rejected by the US State Department in January 2020.
The Dunn family were then 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’s submissions that the UK was a ‘more convenient’ forum, keeping the case in Virginia – describing the motion as ‘not warranted’.
Harry’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, then flew out to the US to give evidence under oath as part of the ‘discovery’ process.
In his judgment which threw out Sacoolas’s 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.
If the case had not been resolved by the end of the depositions, a trial would have taken place in the civil courts in Virginia where a panel of jurors would have determined what financial settlement, if any, the Dunn family would be entitled to.
The civil case has unearthed a great deal of previously unheard material, such as the State Department roles held by the Sacoolases at the time of the crash.
The 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 – with the couple leaving for ‘security reasons’.
The court 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.
It comes after Liz Truss has urged her US counterpart to ‘make progress on delivering justice’ for the family of Harry as they met for face-to-face talks.
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
Spokesman Radd Seiger for the family of Harry Dunn, flanked by mother Charlotte Charles and father Tim Dunn
Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf following the road crash which killed Harry
The new Foreign Secretary met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as she attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Mr Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said she was ‘grateful’ for the case being raised.
‘It means the world to us to see that Harry remains at the top of the agenda,’ she said.
‘I can only imagine how busy the new Foreign Secretary is and Harry would be so proud that he is at the forefront of her mind in her first week in office.
‘We continue to suffer, and miss Harry every single day.
‘We feel we are just existing at the moment and I would just ask the officials in both London and Washington to do all they can to help my family get justice for Harry as soon as possible please.’
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘The Foreign Secretary also raised the case of Harry Dunn and the need to make progress on delivering justice for Harry’s family.’
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, Dominic Raab.
The Foreign Secretary met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as she attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York
Ms Truss and Mr Blinken met last night and ‘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’.
The 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.
‘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.