Harry Dunn’s family and Anne Sacoolas, 44, reach a ‘resolution’ in civil claim for damages

The family of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn and his alleged killer Anne Sacoolas, 44, have reached a ‘resolution’ in a civil claim for damages filed in Virginia, spokesman Radd Seiger has revealed. 

Mr Seiger said an agreement had been ‘reached successfully between the parties and they can put this part of the campaign behind them’. 

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 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 the pending criminal case.

US suspect Sacoolas, 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

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

Sacoolas, 44, was able to leave the UK following the fatal road crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27, 2019 

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.’

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’.

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 waver 

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 

Advertisement

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.

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

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

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

Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf following the road crash which killed Harry

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. 

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. 

Liz Truss has urged her US counterpart to 'make progress on delivering justice' for the family of Harry Dunn as they met for face-to-face talks

Liz Truss has urged her US counterpart to ‘make progress on delivering justice’ for the family of Harry Dunn as they met for face-to-face talks

The Foreign Secretary met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as she attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York

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.  

Source

Related posts