Harry Dunn’s parents lose High Court battle with Foreign Office

Harry Dunn High Court caseHarry Dunn's parents have lost their High Court battle against the Foreign Office over whether their son's alleged killer had diplomatic immunity.

Mr Dunn, 19, was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car being driven on the wrong side of the road by American Anne Sacoolas outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.

Sacoolas, whose husband Jonathan Sacoolas worked as a technical assistant at the base, left the country a few weeks later after the US said she was entitled to diplomatic immunity.

The 43-year-old was ultimately charged with causing death by dangerous driving last December, but an extradition request was rejected by the US State Department in January – a decision it later described as "final".

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Dunn family fight for justice
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Dunn family fight for justice
Undated family handout file photo of Harry Dunn. Harry Dunn's mother, Charlotte Charles, has marked the anniversary of her son's death by saying his name is "forever written into history" � and vowed to carry on his family's fight for justice.
Andrea Leadsom MP and Harry Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger arrive to speak to the media in Brackley, Northamptonshire, where the MP called on Donald Trump to personally intervene to ensure suspect Anne Sacoolas faces trial over teenager Harry Dunn's death a year ago.
File photo dated 09/10/19 of Charlotte Charles, the mother of Harry Dunn, speaking to the media after leaving the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, where she met Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Harry Dunn's mother, Charlotte Charles, has marked the anniversary of her son's death by saying his name is "forever written into history" � and vowed to carry on his family's fight for justice.
Harry Dunn family spokesman Radd Seiger (left), Harry's mother Charlotte Charles (centre) and her partner Bruce Charles, speak with Andrea Leadsom MP (right) in Brackley, Northamptonshire, where the MP called on Donald Trump to personally intervene to ensure suspect Anne Sacoolas faces trial over teenager Harry Dunn's death a year ago.
File photo dated 20/12/19 of Harry Dunn's mother Charlotte Charles (centre) and stepfather Bruce Charles (left) outside the Ministry Of Justice in London after meeting with the Director of Public Prosecutions. Harry Dunn's mother, Charlotte Charles, has marked the anniversary of her son's death by saying his name is "forever written into history" � and vowed to carry on his family's fight for justice.
File photo dated 15/10/19 of the entrance to RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, near where Harry Dunn, 19, died when his motorbike was involved in a head-on collision in August last year. One year on from his death, the family of Harry Dunn continue to fight for justice in a case which has sparked diplomatic tensions between Washington and London.
File photo dated 23/04/20 of US President Donald Trump, who was told to "reconsider its position" on the immunity given to 42-year-old suspect Anne Sacoolas, following a road crash outside a US military base in Northamptonshire which resulted in teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn's death. One year on from his death, the family of Harry Dunn continue to fight for justice in a case which has sparked diplomatic tensions between Washington and London.
Tim Dunn (far right) and his wife Tracey Dunn (second right), as they gather with friends and family at Portland Bill to scatter his son's ashes in his favourite place in Weymouth, Dorset, a month before the anniversary of his death.
File photo dated 20/12/19 of the family of Harry Dunn (left to right) mother Charlotte Charles, stepfather Bruce Charles, family spokesman Radd Seiger and father Tim Dunn. Harry Dunn's parents have dropped their legal claim against Northamptonshire Police after concluding the force are "absolved of any blame" following their son's death.
Harry Dunn's mother Charlotte Charles arrives at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Westminster, London, for a meeting with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Cardboard cutout of Northampton Town fan Harry Dunn who died in a car crash last August is seen in the stands during the Sky Bet League Two play-off semi final first leg match at the PTS Academy Stadium, Northampton.
Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Harry Dunn's mother Charlotte Charles outside South Northamptonshire Council offices in Towcester, after they met following the news that the US have refused to extradite Anne Sacoolas who is charged with causing his death in a road collision outside RAF Croughton in August last year.
A motorbike convoy makes it's way through the village of Charlton after following Harry Dunn's last ride as a tribute to the teenager who died when his motorbike was involved in a head-on collision near RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire in August.
Charlotte Charles (left), the mother of Harry Dunn, Bruce Charles, and Tracey Dunn speak to media after a motorbike convoy followed Harry Dunn's last ride through Brackley as a tribute to the teenager who died when his motorbike was involved in a head-on collision near RAF Croughton, Northamptonshire, in August.
Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Nick Adderley (centre) and Superintendent Sarah Johnson speaking during a press conference at Northamptonshire Police HQ at Wootton Hall Park, Northampton about the death of Harry Dunn.
Harry Dunn's Auntie Katie Grant (right) and Nicola Watson tie a Green Ribbons which are being made be members of the village of Charlton, Oxfordshire in memory of 19-year-old Harry Dunn who died while out riding his Green motorcycle near RAF Croughton.
Please Drive on Left signs and arrows have been placed on the B4031 road outside RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, where Harry Dunn, 19, died when his motorbike was involved in a head-on collision in August.
(Left to right) Bruce Charles and Charlotte Charles (Harry's mother), lawyer Radd Seiger, Tim Dunn (Harry's father) and Tracey Dunn at a press conference at the Parker New York Hotel in New York, US, where Charlotte Charles said that Anne Sacoolas, the American woman suspected of causing her son's death, should be brought back to the UK to face justice.
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Mr Dunn's parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, claimed the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) wrongly decided Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity and unlawfully obstructed Northamptonshire Police's investigation into their son's death by keeping the force "in the dark".

But, in a High Court judgment delivered on Tuesday, Lord Justice Flaux and Mr Justice Saini said: "Our conclusion is that Mrs Sacoolas enjoyed immunity from UK criminal jurisdiction at the time of Harry's death."

The judges also rejected Mrs Charles and Mr Dunn's claim the FCDO "usurped" Northamptonshire Police's investigation into their son's death, finding officials "sought to assist rather than obstruct Northamptonshire Police in their investigation".

Mrs Charles and Mr Dunn's case centred on a 1995 agreement between the UK and the US, granting immunity to administrative and technical staff at RAF Croughton, which the US waived in relation to "acts performed outside the course of their duties".

Harry Dunn death
Charlotte Charles, mother of Harry Dunn holding a photograph of him aged 14 (Family handout)

At a hearing earlier this month, their lawyers said the FCDO "took upon itself the authority to resolve the question of immunity and ultimately and unlawfully decided to accept the US embassy's decision that Anne Sacoolas had immunity".

Sam Wordsworth QC told the court that Sacoolas had "no duties at all" at the base and therefore "never had any relevant immunity for the US to waive".

But Lord Justice Flaux and Mr Justice Saini found Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity "on arrival in the UK" under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR) which had not been "expressly waived", meaning she "had immunity at the time of Harry's death".

The judges said: "We do not come this conclusion with any enthusiasm for the result, but it is compelled by the operation of the VCDR."

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