Foreign Office legal battle ‘could cost Dunn family upwards of £50,000’
The family of teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn have launched a legal action against the Foreign Office which they said could cost them “upwards of £50,000”.
The 19-year-old’s parents submitted a judicial review against Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday following a long-running dispute over the extension of diplomatic immunity to intelligence staff and their families at RAF Croughton.
Harry was killed when his motorbike was involved in a head-on crash with a car outside the base in Northamptonshire on August 27.
Anne Sacoolas, the motorist allegedly responsible for the crash, claimed diplomatic immunity and was allowed to return to the US.
The FCO has said it would “oppose and seek costs” for any judicial review and that claims of any misuse or abuse of power by Mr Raab were “entirely without foundation”.
Harry’s family claim the Foreign Office had “no legal power to make such an agreement” over the immunity.
They say secret treaties between the UK and US that give intelligence staff at the base legal protection have now been disclosed to them and claim the documents make no reference about immunity for family members.
The family’s spokesman Radd Seiger said the case is “likely to be appealed” by the Foreign Office and if the case goes to the Supreme Court, it will cost them upwards of £50,000.
On Wednesday, they filed the claim for a judicial review – two days after the teenager’s father, Tim Dunn, travelled to the Esher and Walton constituency to confront Mr Raab at a hustings event.
A crowd of Mr Dunn’s family and friends booed and branded Mr Raab a “coward” as he left East Molesey Methodist Church in an official car on Monday evening, after the event where he and other candidates aimed to appeal to local constituents.
The claim against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued on behalf of Mr Dunn’s parents – Mr Dunn and Charlotte Charles – alleged the granting of diplomatic immunity to Mrs Sacoolas was “wrong in law”.
They requested the Foreign Office withdraw advice provided to Northamptonshire Police surrounding the granting of diplomatic immunity to the suspect.
The family have said they are concerned Mr Raab was “pressured by the United States to interpret the law in a way which allowed her to escape justice”.
Mr Seiger said: “The parents have done everything physically within their power to avoid having to sue the FCO.
“There have been repeated public and private attempts on our part to engage with those in authority to resolve this dispute amicably.
“When we did engage with Mr Raab, he lied and misled the parents at a meeting on October 9, telling them that Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity, when the very day before on October 8, he had agreed with the US government that immunity no longer applied.
“He even told mum Charlotte that he would put in a third request for a waiver.
“The parents believe he should no longer hold any public office, let alone high public office.”
Speaking about why the claim had been submitted, Mr Seiger said: “We are advised by the leading lawyers and experts in the field of human rights and diplomatic immunity. We are advised that the FCO’s interpretation of the diplomatic immunity laws and treaty is absurd in practice and wrong in law.
“We will keep the press updated about the progress of the case – the next step is that the Foreign Secretary has 21 days to respond to the parents’ ‘grounds of claim’.”