Harry Dunn's mother 'welcomes' clear path for suspect's virtual trial

12 June 2021, 08:28 | Updated: 12 June 2021, 11:37

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Harry Dunn's mother has welcomed the path being made clear for a virtual trial of Anne Sacoolas following the death of her son in August 2019.

The UK is set to pursue a virtual trial over the death of the 19-year-old, who was killed when a car crashed into his motorbike outside a US military base in Northamptonshire.

Although the US has blocked the extradition of Anne Sacoolas, an American diplomat's wife, to face charges related to the collision, the path is now clear for a "virtual trial or process", Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Saturday.

Speaking to LBC after the minister's announcement, Mr Dunn's mother Charlotte Charles said she and her family "very much welcome the news".

"It means that there are no hurdles to get over now," she told LBC's Andrew Castle.

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"We're so grateful to the politicians for clearing the path so we'll just leave it all to the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) now and wait to hear from them as to what the next steps will be."

The aftermath of Mr Dunn's death sparked an international controversy when Sacoolas, who worked at the base for the US State Department, had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf - allowing her to leave the UK nine days after the crash.

She has since been charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Ms Charles continued: "We've always said that she needs to take responsibility and full accountability for what happened that night.

"Meaningful justice to us is the UK justice system and, as we understand it, it will definitely be the UK justice system. She needs to be accountable like you and I would have had to have been."

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On Saturday, Mr Raab told the BBC: "The US has not agreed to the extradition, but the path is clear for the legal authorities in the UK to approach Anne Sacoolas' lawyers - without any problem from the US Government - to see whether some kind of virtual trial or process could allow some accountability and some solace and some justice for the Dunn family.

"I would like to see some accountability. I think the family deserve no less."

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said US President Joe Biden was "actively engaged" and "extremely sympathetic" about the case after a face-to-face meeting at the G7 summit in Cornwall this week.

Mr Biden's first wife and daughter were killed in a road crash in 1972, while his sons Beau and Hunter survived.

Ms Charles told the PA news agency: "We very much hope that President Biden takes a different view to the previous administration, given his deeply personal connection to the case, having suffered loss in similar circumstances."

She added: "We are all suffering intensely as a family and really need a resolution as soon as possible and now await to hear from the CPS as to what steps they plan to take next.

"We have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes having dialogue with as many people on both sides of the Atlantic as possible and believe that these efforts will help us in our search for justice.

"It is almost two years since we lost Harry in August 2019 and it would be lovely to think that all parties can now come together to help bring this living nightmare to an end so that we can try to rebuild our shattered lives."

The Dunn family has challenged the diplomatic immunity asserted on Sacoolas' behalf, which will be heard in the Court of Appeal next year.

Ms Charles and Mr Dunn's father Tim Dunn have also brought a civil claim against Sacoolas and her husband in the US state of Virginia.