Attorney General ‘considering virtual trial’ in Harry Dunn case – Buckland


The Attorney General is considering the possibility of trying Harry Dunn’s alleged killer virtually or in her absence, the Lord Chancellor has said.

The Dunn family’s MP, Andrea Leadsom, wrote to Government ministers on August 10 asking for them to consider the possibility of Anne Sacoolas standing trial while she is still in the US.

Robert Buckland QC, the first minister to reply to the former business secretary’s request, said the “holding a trial virtually or in absentia are… being considered” by Suella Braverman QC.

Harry Dunn
Harry Dunn

In a letter to Mrs Leadsom, seen by the PA news agency, Mr Buckland said: “I quite understand how important it must be to Harry’s family, as the anniversary of his death approaches, to achieve some sort of closure.

“The suggestions you put forward for resolving the impasse by holding a trial virtually or in absentia are as you know being considered by the Attorney General, and she will respond as decisions about criminal proceedings in individual cases are a matter for her and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

“My officials stand ready, however, to assist in any way they can.”

Mr Dunn, 19, was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside a US military base in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.

Robert Buckland letter
Robert Buckland letter

Sacoolas, 42, the wife of a US intelligence official, claimed diplomatic immunity following the crash and was able to return to her home country, sparking an international controversy.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in December but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the following month – a decision later described by the US State Department as “final”.

Speaking to PA after Mr Buckland’s letter, Mr Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said: “My family and I have not been able to grieve this year without justice and closure.

“It is doing us real harm and I can’t believe how cruel the US government are being.

Harry Dunn death
Harry Dunn death

“We all know what their position would be if this had happened to any of their children.

“They should be in no doubt – my family and I are going nowhere until we fulfil that promise to Harry.

“I can see the authorities in London are doing everything they can to ensure that that is just what is going to happen but we will leave them to decide how it happens.”

After learning that a virtual trial was being considered, the family’s spokesman Radd Seiger told PA: “If the authorities decide that a British trial led by a British judge in a British Court should take place with Mrs Sacoolas attending virtually, then the parents will raise no objection.

“They have never been concerned with the outcome of any criminal case.

“Their measured, respectful call has simply been that Mrs Sacoolas must go through it.

“The outcome is not within the control of any victim of a crime but every victim is entitled to see that the life of their lost loved one did mean something, did matter, and that they had a fair crack of the whip at justice.”

A decision on whether Sacoolas could be tried virtually or in her absence would not be made by the Lord Chancellor.

A government spokesperson said: “The Government’s deepest sympathies remain with Harry’s family. We are doing everything we can to achieve justice and the case continues to be raised at the highest levels.”