Northamptonshire Police 'absolved of blame' in death of Harry Dunn

The parents of Harry Dunn have dropped their legal claim against Northamptonshire Police after concluding the force was “absolved of any blame” following their son’s death.

Jul 27, 2020
By Website Editor
Harry Dunn

The 19-year-old died after a road crash last August close to RAF Croughton military base. His motorcycle was hit by a vehicle driven by US citizen Anne Sacoolas whose husband is an intelligence officer at the base. Ms Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road at the time of the incident and subsequently returned to the US and claimed diplomatic immunity.

The family of Mr Dunn are set for a two-day judicial review hearing at the High Court in November where they allege the Foreign Secretary “obstructed justice” by allowing Ms Sacoolas to leave the UK.

Northamptonshire Police was brought into the legal claim in January as Mr Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles and father Tim Dunn sought to understand how Ms Sacoolas was able to claim diplomatic immunity following the fatal crash.

It is understood that the force will now only be involved in the claim as an “interested party” on the request of Chief Constable Nick Adderley. It is also understood the force will not seek costs against the family for its involvement in the proceedings.

The Dunn family has decided to discontinue proceedings against the police after alleging that documents disclosed for court proceedings demonstrated the force was “kept in the dark” by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Recently released documents have shown that Northamptonshire Police was “not informed” by the FCO of the arrangements that allowed Ms Sacoolas to claim diplomatic immunity.

The force also claims the FCO did not tell it about the risk of Ms Sacoolas being withdrawn from the UK or the existence of a waiver in respect of her husband Jonathan’s immunity – preventing officers from interviewing him as a witness.

In December last year, Ms Sacoolas was charged with causing Mr Dunn’s death by dangerous driving but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January.

The US State Department described the decision as “final” but the UK and the US have since agreed to amend the “anomaly” that allowed Ms Sacoolas to claim diplomatic immunity.

Explaining why the parents have dropped the claims against Northamptonshire Police, family spokesman Radd Seiger said: “Having carefully reviewed the documents disclosed by the Foreign Secretary, the parents are now satisfied that the police are absolved of any blame and could have done no more to ensure that Ms Sacoolas was brought to justice.

“Our case remains that the documents clearly show how the police investigation was effectively stopped in its tracks abruptly when the Foreign Office told the police shortly after Harry died that Ms Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity.

“We say the documents reveal that the Foreign Office kept the police in the dark for 14 days about the uncertainty surrounding Ms Sacoolas’ claim to immunity.

“They failed to tell them that Ms Sacoolas was planning to leave the country, and then did not tell the police that she had gone until the day after she left.

“In the UK, it is the police’s responsibility to establish who has diplomatic immunity, not the Foreign Office, yet he and his team did just that – the parents say unlawfully.

“In discussions with the police, they have now graciously confirmed that they will remain in the legal case as an interested party.”

A Northamptonshire Police spokesperson said: “This is an ongoing legal matter and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

The FCO has been approached for comment.

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