Harry Dunn’s parents meet Dominic Raab in row over American’s immunity
The parents of a British teenager allegedly knocked down and killed by the wife of an American spy have arrived to meet the British Foreign Secretary as they step up their effort to get the woman returned to Britain to face justice.
Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles say they been left in limbo after Ann Sacoolas, who allegedly knocked down their son Harry Dunn in Northamptonshire in August, fled to the US under cover of diplomatic immunity.
British authorities are attempting to have Mrs Sacoolas, who is understood to be the wife of a U.S. National Security Agency worker, brought back to Britain to face charges.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is meeting Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, and father, Tim Dunn,today after having talks with US Ambassador Woody Johnson on Tuesday.
Charlotte Charles (left) and Tim Dunn (right), the parents of Harry Dunn, arrive with their partners at the Foreign Office today ahead of a meeting with the Foreign Secretary
Harry’s parents say they’ve been left in limbo after the driver who allegedly hit him fled the UK
Harry, 19, was killed n a car crash in Northamptonshire allegedly caused by the diplomat’s wife
Prior to meeting the US Ambassador, Mr Raab raised the case in a telephone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
After Tuesday’s meeting, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said: ‘The Foreign Secretary met the US Ambassador today and urged the US to reconsider its position and do the right thing by Harry Dunn’s family.’
Mrs Sacoolas’ husband, Jonathan, works at RAF Croughton, which US intelligence use
Speaking to Sky News about the meeting with the Foreign Secretary, Ms Charles said: ‘We’ve been offered the chance to now meet Dominic Raab and we’ve got that meeting this afternoon. We’re very much hoping for some positivity.
‘I hope he can look at us as human beings that just need our UK Government on our side.
‘If we get that positivity and we get that breakthrough that we need, then we can actually start looking after ourselves and our other boy – his twin.
‘Until we get the positivity and the answers we need, we are still in the mode of just keeping going with that fire in our belly that still keeps telling us that something is not right.’
Mr Dunn said: ‘Hopefully he’s going to tell us the news we want to hear – that they’ve got the waiver for the immunity and she is going to be coming back for justice for Harry.’
A crowdfunding page set up for Harry’s family to begin their ‘campaign to search for justice’ and to help Harry’s twin brother, Niall, reached its £10,000 target on Tuesday and has since passed £15,000.
Earlier today human right lawyer Mark Stephens today insisted that, if Mrs Sacoolas was not brought back to the UK, Harry’s parents could bring civil legal action in the U.S.
Harry’s parents, Charlotte and Tim, could be forced to go to the US to get answers
Mr Stephens told BBC Breakfast: ‘Immunity doesn’t apply in the home country so even if the Foreign Office are correct and Mr and Mrs Sacoolas were entitled to immunity then, in those circumstances, if they’ve got back to America, immunity no longer applies.
‘The family can go to America and sue Mrs Sacoolas in that country because she will not have immunity in America or any other third country.’
He said that, if the British government failed to have Mrs Sacoolas returned to the UK, the government should fund legal action in the US to uphold what he called Harry’s parents’ ‘human right’ to find out how he died.
Mr Stephens added: ‘If the only way to do that [get answers] is by going to the US to sue Mrs Sacoolas it wouldn’t be about money, it would be about the explanation that they have been asking for, hearing from her, what happened in those last moments.’
Harry was going to his father’s house when he was in the collision with Mrs Sacoolas’s Volvo XC90 outside RAF Croughton, a US intelligence hub in Northamptonshire.
Police said Mrs Sacoolas – who has driving offences to her name in America – had been travelling on the wrong side of the road for 400 yards when she collided with Harry’s motorbike at around 8.30pm on August 27.
Mrs Sacoolas initially cooperated with police after being told Harry had died, but later fled to the US with her husband and three children, citing immunity due to her husband’s job at the base.
It came as:
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met with US ambassador Woody Johnson to ‘ask the US to reconsider its position and do the right thing by Harry Dunn’s family’;
- America was accused of hypocrisy after it emerged the US Department of State’s own guidelines say diplomatic immunity should not be extended to those committing ‘serious or repeat driving offences’ in the US;
- Northamptonshire police was set to present a file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service;
- Harry’s family raised £10,000 via GoFundMe to travel to the US.
With no sign America will back down, Mrs Charles, 44, said her family would travel to Washington if necessary, in the hope of speaking to President Trump.
The Foreign Office and US Embassy have confirmed Mrs Sacoolas’s husband Jonathan and his family are entitled to immunity.
Mrs Charles believes their immunity should be waived as the crime was potentially serious and involved the loss of a life.
In a direct appeal to Mr Trump she urged him to ‘try to see it from our point of view and our heartache’ and said she hoped he could help in bringing Mrs Sacoolas back to the UK for justice and to ‘help us to start grieving again’.
Harry’s parents embarked on a round of interviews yesterday, including an appearance on ITV’s This Morning.
Harry’s father Tim has devastatingly told how he cradled his dying son at the roadside. Mr Dunn, head of maintenance at an independent school, was called to the scene of the collision by a firefighter, a family friend who recognised Harry.
Mr Dunn, who described Harry as ‘the centrepiece of the family and an amazing lad’, asked police whether the driver had been injured, and was told she was fine. Harry suffered multiple horrific injuries and died in hospital.
The crash took place in August outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire (pictured) – a US intelligence hub in Britain
Boris Johnson said it is ‘not right’ to use immunity in this way, and has promised to raise the case with Mr Trump if it is not resolved.
Mrs Charles, who works in a GP surgery, said the family did not want to see Mrs Sacoolasjailed – only to speak to her and for the case to be concluded.
She added: ‘We won’t stop… diplomatic immunity is there to protect the diplomat and or their family when they are in danger – it is not there to protect them when they commit crimes as serious as this.’
She also said Harry’s twin, Niall, was ‘devastated’ and was trying to ‘rediscover who he is’ after the death of his brother.
There are around 23,000 people entitled to diplomatic immunity in the UK. In 2017, 26 crimes were allegedly committed by people with immunity. Five of these were driving-related.
The Sacoolas family were said to have lived in a rented property in a village less than two miles from the scene of the tragedy.
Mrs Sacoolas briefly sent the couple’s children to Winchester House School, where Harry’s father worked as a caretaker.
Why are Americans at RAF Croughton in the UK?
RAF Croughton is an air base that is currently being leased by the US government.
It houses the 422nd Air Base Group, but is also being used by spies working for the Joint Intelligence Operations Center Europe (JIOCEUR).
JIOCEUR is a military intelligence analysis center which is part of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The agency is an external branch of government which provides intelligence to ‘warfighters, defense policymakers and force planners in the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community’.
The entrance to RAF Croughton is shown. Sacoolas was exiting the base when she turned onto the wrong side of the road on August 27
It provides intelligence information for the U.S. European and African commands as well as NATO.
The Center is based at RAF Molesworth in Cambridgeshire but, following the 2015 announcement that it was to close in 2023, many of the positions were moved to Croughton.
There are plans to consolidate it with the U.S. Africa Command to make a larger station at Croughton that will be known as the Joint Intelligence Analysis Complex – a major hub for US intelligence gathering.
According to locals in Croughton, the communications center – where Sacoolas’ husband is said to work – is a ‘site within the site’ which has its own separate security.
The US government is reconsidering the relocation after being met with resistance from lawmakers who said it would be too expensive.
A file photo of a geodesic dome covering radar scanners and satellite dishes at the base. It is an intelligence gathering hub which the US Defense Intelligence Agency uses to collect information from Europe and Africa