The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has written to lawyers representing Harry Dunn’s alleged killer urging her to surrender to the UK court, insisting a “proper trial would need to take place”.
Chief crown prosecutor for the East Midlands Janine Smith told representatives of the 19-year-old’s family that a virtual trial would mean Anne Sacoolas “would not surrender to the court nor accept the court’s powers”.
Ms Smith said the CPS believes there is no other way for Sacoolas to surrender “apart from… physically returning to the jurisdiction”.
Her words are despite a letter sent on behalf of US President Donald Trump to the family’s constituency MP Andrea Leadsom, in which the US Embassy said it was its “sincere hope” the CPS would make any proposals of a virtual trial to Sacoolas’s lawyers.
Mr Dunn was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Sacoolas admitted the 43-year-old had been driving on the wrong side of the road for around 20 seconds before the collision.
Ms Smith told the family’s representatives that an extradition request for the suspect, which was rejected by the US State Department in January, was no longer live.
She added that, if the family were to win their court battle over the diplomatic immunity asserted on behalf of Sacoolas, the CPS “may be able to consider making a further request for extradition”.
In a letter to the Dunn family’s representatives, seen by the PA news agency, Ms Smith said: “We have recently written again to the lawyers representing Anne Sacoolas, explaining that the next step in this case is for her to surrender to the jurisdiction of the court.
“We confirmed to them that we do not wish to stand in the way of commencing and concluding the criminal proceedings but a proper trial would need to take place.
“We explained to them that we will consider ways and opportunities to move this case forward but this can only be on the basis that Anne Sacoolas surrenders to the jurisdiction of the UK court.”
Sacoolas was able to leave the UK 19 days after the crash after the US Government asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf.
The family has contested the decision and the High Court will determine whether the suspect was entitled to immunity later this month.
Updating the family about the prospect of a virtual trial, Ms Smith continued: “When we spoke of a virtual trial at our meeting with you, the (Director of Public Prosecutions) explained that the coronavirus legislation was introduced specifically to deal with cases during the pandemic and it wasn’t intended that the legislation would allow suspects to appear from another country.
“As we explained in the meeting, we are concerned that Anne Sacoolas would not surrender to the court nor accept the court’s powers.
“We have not been able to identify any other method, apart from Anne Sacoolas physically returning to the jurisdiction, by which her surrendering to the court could be achieved.”
The Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS in the East Midlands added: “As you know, the extradition request was issued and refused by the US Secretary of State on the basis of diplomatic immunity.
“The request is no longer live but, following the Judicial Review, depending on the outcome, we may be able to consider making a further request for extradition.”
Justice, and the rule of law, are the foundations of a civilised society, regardless of wealth or status. We all have a right to justice which must never be denied. It is staggering that the so called leaders of the free world are seeking to deny justice to #HarryDunn's family. pic.twitter.com/PPLIBqGCPP
— Radd Seiger (@RaddSeiger) November 2, 2020
Reacting to the CPS’s letter, the family’s spokesman Radd Seiger told the PA news agency: “Having seen this latest letter from the chief prosecutor, Harry’s parents are just grateful that the CPS are doing their job.
“They are clearly doing it very well and they were very clear when we met with them on September 9 that the virtual trial which was being proposed would not deliver justice.
“This case is all about justice and upholding the rule of law.
“The CPS remain intent on ensuring that Mrs Sacoolas comes back to the UK to answer the charges laid against her.
“That has been the parents’ position from the outset and that is precisely what must happen.”
Sacoolas’s lawyers and the CPS have been approached for comment.