Death of Harry Dunn

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Death of Harry Dunn
Date27 August 2019
Time20:25 BST
LocationB4031 road near RAF Croughton
CauseRoad traffic collision
DeathsHarry Dunn
Burial17 September 2019
InquiriesNorthamptonshire Police
AccusedAnne Sacoolas
ChargesCausing death by dangerous driving

Harry Dunn was a British man who died following a road traffic collision, on 27 August 2019, at the age of 19. He was riding his motorcycle near Croughton, Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom, near the exit to RAF Croughton, when it collided head-on with a Volvo XC90. The car was being driven, on the wrong side of the road, by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US government employee working at the United States Air Force listening station at RAF Croughton.

The collision became the centre of a diplomatic incident after the United States government advised, and then helped Sacoolas to flee the country, claiming diplomatic immunity. On 20 December 2019 the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Sacoolas was to be charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Collision[edit]

Harry Dunn lived in Charlton, near Banbury.[1] On the evening of 27 August 2019 he died in hospital after a road traffic collision with a vehicle driven by Anne Sacoolas, while riding his motorcycle on the B4031 road about 400 metres (440 yards) from the exit from RAF Croughton. Police believe that Sacoolas, the wife of a US government employee working at the United States Air Force listening station at RAF Croughton, had driven her Volvo XC90 on the wrong side of the road from the base exit.[2] She had a previous driving infraction in Virginia in 2006 for "failing to pay full time and attention".[3][4] The BBC reported that the Sacoolas family had only been in the UK for three weeks.[5]

Call handlers for the emergency telephone call wrongly categorised Dunn's injuries as category 2 requiring ambulance attention within 40 minutes, and the ambulance arrived 43 minutes after the accident. The chief executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service later said that because of a shortage of ambulance crews the mis-categorisation did not make a difference, because the nearest doctor was far away. Dunn was pronounced dead at the Major Trauma Centre of John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.[6][7]

Investigation[edit]

An investigation into the collision by Nick Adderley, the chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, determined, from CCTV records, that a car had been travelling on the wrong side of the road.[8] Sacoolas had cooperated with police at the scene of the crash and was breathalysed. She was interviewed the next day at home and cooperated. Diplomatic immunity was mentioned during the interview, and Northamptonshire Police applied for an immunity waiver later that day. On 16 September 2019, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) informed the police that the waiver had been declined and that Sacoolas had left the UK on a US Air Force aircraft.[9]

The funeral of Harry Dunn took place on 17 September[10] followed by cremation at an Oxfordshire crematorium.[11]

On 22 October Adderley confirmed that the suspect was to be interviewed under caution in the United States, at her own request, explaining: "A file of evidence has been handed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but... that file is incomplete - you can't complete the file until you have an account from the suspect."[12] On 31 October, police confirmed they had interviewed the suspect and passed the information to the CPS.[13]

On 31 October Northamptonshire Police interviewed Anne Sacoolas in the US.[14] Dunn's mother told Sky News that the family felt they were "no further forward" and were still "left in limbo"; she also criticised the decision to fly British police to the US.[15] On 1 November the police submitted a file to the CPS, who would evaluate it for a charging decision.[16]

Diplomatic issues[edit]

The collision became the subject of a diplomatic dispute when Sacoolas left the country shortly after the incident and the US embassy said she had diplomatic immunity as the wife of a US agent working in the UK.[2][5][3][17] The Washington Examiner reported that Jonathan Sacoolas did not work for the National Security Agency, and that the Sacoolas family lived in Northern Virginia in the area of the Central Intelligence Agency Langley headquarters.[18]

Dunn's parents were advised by two leading specialist lawyers on diplomatic immunity, Mark Stephens and Geoffrey Robertson. They advised that Anne Sacoolas was not entitled to diplomatic immunity as her husband was not listed as a diplomat. Furthermore, they contended, diplomatic immunity no longer applied on Sacoolas's return to her home country, so it would be possible to take civil action in the US courts. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also stated that diplomatic immunity no longer applied.[19][20] Dunn's parents, in order to get justice for their son, decided to travel to the US to "fight for change" and seek the return of Sacoolas to the UK.[21]

A photograph, taken at a 10 October press conference, showed President Donald Trump's briefing notes. If asked, the US line on the notes indicated that Anne Sacoolas would not return to the UK, despite the previous intervention of Raab and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, including a call to the president.[22] In response, Dunn's mother said that the position of the US was, "beyond any realm of human thinking", adding "I'm just disgusted. I don't see the point in Boris Johnson talking to President Trump, or President Trump even taking a call from Boris Johnson. If he'd already made his decision that if it were to be asked and if it were to be raised, the answer was already going to be no."[22]

When Dunn's parents visited the White House on 15 October 2019 to meet with a "a senior official," they were shocked when President Trump told them that Sacoolas was waiting "in the next room" to meet them, an option they and their lawyer rejected as being too soon, and something that should take place on British soil.[23][24] Trump called his meeting with the Dunn family "beautiful in a certain way." He also said driving on the wrong side "happens to a lot of people" because they "go to Europe and the roads are opposite."[25] It was later alleged that President Trump had intended to pay the family compensation, but they refused. Radd Seiger, the Dunn family’s spokesman, reported that the White House meeting ended with the president saying the secretary of the treasury, Steven Mnuchin, was "standing by ready to write a cheque"; he added: "It was almost as if he let it slip out. When he said: ‘We’ve got the driver here’, he basically meant we’re all going to have a big hug and a kiss and I’ll get my treasury guy to write a cheque. That’s how it was. On the day it just didn’t register with me, but the more I think about those words, the more shocking it is.” [26]

Responses by parents and others[edit]

On 15 October the Dunn family announced their intention to start a judicial review action into the advice given by the FCO to Northamptonshire Police about the diplomatic immunity of Anne Sacoolas.[10]

On 18 October Dunn's parents said that they expected UK police to charge Sacoolas in connection with their son's death.[27] On the same day it was revealed that the UK government had asked Northamptonshire Police to delay informing Dunn's family that the woman involved in the crash had left the country. Dominic Raab stated that the FCO had asked the force to withhold the information "for a day or two".[28] The Dunn family became aware that Anne Sacoolas had left the UK a week later on 23 September.[10]

A review of the diplomatic immunity arrangements at RAF Croughton has been commissioned.[29]

On 1 November the case was discussed by Nigel Farage with President Trump, by telephone, on his LBC evening talk-show. Trump said that Sacoolas had a "compelling story to tell" when he met her at the White House. Asked if there were circumstances where Sacoolas could return to the UK to face charges, Trump said: "Well, I would have to see what the final facts are... And, I'll take a look at the final facts. She's represented by a lawyer."[30][31]

On 21 November Dunn's parents expressed their disgust with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab who had defended the government's decision to seek legal costs from them. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said there were not "any reasonably arguable ground of legal challenge" in a legal case Dunn's parents were bringing against them.[32] On 25 November Dunn's father, together with a group of more than 50 others, were, for fire safety reasons, prevented by staff from entering a hustings attended by Raab in East Molesey Methodist Church.[33]

On 25 November Dunn's parents submitted a judicial review of the Foreign Secretary's actions over the extension of diplomatic immunity to intelligence staff and families at RAF Croughton. They state that UK-US "secret treaties" have been disclosed but the documents do not cover immunity for family members. A FCO spokeman commented "As the Foreign Secretary set out in Parliament, the individual involved had diplomatic immunity whilst in the country under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations."[34]

On 30 November it was reported that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had written to the US ambassador in London early in October, asking that the extradition of Anne Sacoolas should not be blocked, but had so far not received a reply.[35]

In December 2019 Dunn's parents announced they were to file a civil lawsuit in Virginia, where Sacoolas lived, in the hope of compelling her to return to England, turn herself in and face charges. The family's lawyer planned to rely on English common law dating back to 1774, which states that, even though the offence may have been committed in one country, the accused can face charge in another.[36]

On 4 January 2020 groups of protesters, holding signs saying "Justice 4 Harry", gathered outside RAF Croughton. In a strongly-worded statement released by the family, they vowed not to stop demonstrating until "common sense prevails and the US government agrees not to abuse their power again".[37]

Charges[edit]

On 20 December 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Sacoolas was to be charged with causing death by dangerous driving and that it was starting extradition proceedings against her. Sacoolas' lawyer, Amy Jeffress, said: "Anne will not return voluntarily to the UK to face a potential jail sentence for what was a terrible but unintentional accident", adding that "the potential 14-year sentence was "not proportionate".[38][39]

On 22 December 2019 Dunn's family met with Home Secretary Priti Patel and their MP Andrea Leadsom at their home. Family spokesman Radd Seiger said they were now "incredibly reassured this whole saga will be dealt with under the rule of law".[40][41]

On 10 January 2020, the Home Office formally requested the extradition of Sacoolas to face charges in the United Kingdom.[42] The US State Department initial response was "The use of an extradition treaty to attempt to return the spouse of a former diplomat by force would establish an extraordinarily troubling precedent" and that the request was "highly inappropriate".[43] On 23 January US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally rejected the request for extradition. Family spokesman Radd Seiger said they had taken the news "in our stride". The Home Office said the decision appeared "to be a denial of justice". The family's constituency MP Andrea Leadsom was planning to meet the US ambassador Woody Johnson in London on 24 January to discuss the case.[44]

Later developments[edit]

On 18 January 2020 Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley demanded an urgent meeting with the commander of the military base after footage emerged of another vehicle on the wrong side of the road near RAF Croughton.[45][46][47]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dimmer, Sam (2 September 2019). "Tributes to 'bubbly and outgoing' Banbury teenager who died in Croughton crash". LeicesterLive. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b Wintour, Patrick (8 October 2019). "Harry Dunn death: Foreign Office doubt Anne Sacoolas will return to UK". The Guardian.
  3. ^ a b "Parents of British teen killed in crash involving U.S. diplomat's wife demand answers". CBS. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  4. ^ Pearce, Tim (9 October 2019). "Anger as wife of American 'spy' flees Britain after killing youth in traffic accident". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b "PM's plea to US to rethink immunity over Harry Dunn fatal crash". BBC News. 7 October 2019. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  6. ^ Wintour, Patrick (6 November 2019). "Harry Dunn death: ambulance delay 'left teenager untreated on road for 43 minutes'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Harry Dunn crash: Teenager's parents raise ambulance 'concerns'". BBC News. 6 November 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Harry Dunn crash: US diplomat's wife 'devastated' by death". BBC News. 13 October 2019. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  9. ^ Busby, Mattha (22 October 2019). "Harry Dunn death: UK police to interview Anne Sacoolas under caution". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Gareth Davies; Jamie Johnson; Jack Hardy (22 October 2019). "Police chief in charge of Harry Dunn car crash case says he would not do anything differently as he admits his officers missed two opportunities to arrest diplomat's wife". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  11. ^ Busby, Mattha (December 3, 2019). "Harry Dunn death: a timeline of key events" – via www.theguardian.com.
  12. ^ "Harry Dunn crash: Police to interview suspect under caution in US". BBC News. 22 October 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  13. ^ "Harry Dunn crash suspect interviewed by police". BBC News. 31 October 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  14. ^ "Harry Dunn death: Crash suspect Anne Sacoolas interviewed in US". BBC News. 31 October 2019. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  15. ^ Mee, Emily (31 October 2019). "Harry Dunn: UK police interview suspect Anne Sacoolas in US over teenager's death". Sky News. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  16. ^ Wintour, Patrick (1 November 2019). "Harry Dunn death: police submit file to CPS after interviewing Anne Sacoolas". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  17. ^ Catherine, Philp (8 October 2019). "Diplomat's wife Anne Sacoolas has a poor driving record in US". The Times. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  18. ^ Susan Katz Keating (11 October 2019). "'He doesn't work for us:' NSA disavows husband of American spy in UK traffic death". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  19. ^ Walker, Amy (13 October 2019). "Diplomatic immunity no longer applies to Anne Sacoolas, says Foreign Office". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  20. ^ Wintour, Patrick (13 October 2019). "Harry Dunn's parents to meet Anne Sacoolas as immunity row continues". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  21. ^ "Harry Dunn's parents to 'fight for change'". BBC News. 7 October 2019. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Harry Dunn crash: Donald Trump notes say US suspect "will not return to UK"". BBC News. 10 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  23. ^ Hassan, Jennifer (16 October 2019). "Trump stuns Harry Dunn's parents, says woman in crash that killed their son is nearby and able to meet". The Washington Post. Harry Dunn's parents, who were visiting the U.S., had no idea they were to meet President Trump, much less the woman who after the incident in Britain claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the U.S.
  24. ^ Magra, Iliana (16 October 2019). "Trump Meets Grieving Britons, and Springs a Surprise". The New York Times. At the White House, the parents of Harry Dunn were told that the woman they want to hold accountable for his death in a car crash was in an adjoining room.
  25. ^ Wamsley, Laurel (16 October 2019). "Family 'Ambushed' By Trump Suggestion To Meet With Woman Who Caused Fatal Crash". NPR News.
  26. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/nov/07/harry-dunn-parents-say-they-rejected-offer-of-a-cheque-from-trump
  27. ^ "Dunn crash death suspect 'expected to be charged'". BBC News. 18 October 2019.
  28. ^ "Government admits hiding information from Harry Dunn's family". The Independent. 18 October 2019.
  29. ^ "Diplomatic immunity review launched after Harry Dunn case". The Guardian. Press Association. 21 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  30. ^ "Trump: Harry Dunn crash death suspect had compelling story to tell". Evening Standard. November 1, 2019.
  31. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: President Trump On Harry Dunn's Death". LBC.
  32. ^ "Dunn's family 'disgusted' with Raab over costs". November 21, 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  33. ^ "Raab heckled as Dunn family left out of hustings". November 26, 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  34. ^ "Harry Dunn's family starts legal action against Foreign Office". The Guardian. Press Association. 26 November 2019. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  35. ^ Badshah, Nadeem (30 November 2019). "Archbishop of Canterbury demands wife of US diplomat be extradited to UK". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  36. ^ "Parents of U.K. teen killed in car crash to file lawsuit in Virginia against American woman". CBS News. 12 December 2019. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  37. ^ "Harry Dunn protesters blockade US base demanding diplomat's wife returns to UK". January 4, 2020.
  38. ^ "US woman to be charged over Harry Dunn crash death". BBC News. 2019-12-20. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  39. ^ Davies, Guy (20 December 2019). "Anne Sacoolas, wife of US diplomat, charged with dangerous driving in death of Harry Dunn". ABC News. Retrieved 2019-12-20.
  40. ^ "Harry Dunn's father meets home secretary". December 22, 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  41. ^ editor, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic (December 22, 2019). "Harry Dunn's family 'reassured' after meeting with Priti Patel" – via www.theguardian.com.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  42. ^ Austin, Henry; Li, David K. (10 January 2020). "U.K. formally asks for extradition of U.S. diplomat's wife involved in deadly crash". NBC News. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  43. ^ "Harry Dunn: Anne Sacoolas extradition bid inappropriate, says US". BBC News. 11 January 2020. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  44. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-51228262
  45. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jan/18/car-wrong-side-of-road-harry-dunn-raf-base-northamptonshire
  46. ^ https://news.sky.com/story/police-probe-footage-of-car-on-wrong-side-of-road-near-harry-dunn-raf-base-11911578
  47. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/harry-dunn-crash-raf-us-base-croughton-northamptonshire-police-footage-a9290066.html