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Harry Dunn's parents 'couldn't be more proud' as High Court hearing ends
12 November 2020, 20:43
Harry Dunn's parents have said they "couldn't be more proud that Harry's given us the strength to do it" following their High Court battle with the Foreign Office.
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".
Mr Dunn's parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, claim 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".
Charlotte Charles, speaking alongside Tim Dunn, said on Thursday the case had "opened our eyes up to an awful lot we didn't know" about the diplomatic immunity offered to their son's alleged killer, adding: "But it's done. It's dusted."
"It went as well as we possibly could have expected but we're not lawyers; we're not judges.
"I just feel as a family, as parents, we couldn't be more proud that Harry's given us the strength to do it."
Ms Charles and Mr Dunn are now battling with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in court on whether it had wrongly decided that Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity.
They also say the department had unlawfully obstructed Northamptonshire Police's investigation by keeping the force "in the dark".
"I must admit, before the last couple of days, it's the lowest I've felt," Mr Dunn said upon the conclusion of the two-day hearing.
"It's been a real struggle.
"I thought the last two days were very informative [...] but it's just a shame that Harry had to die for us to get where we are today.
"We've lost a lovely boy and the fight has been horrendous and we've had a great team help us out.
"But it still hurts to think that we've lost him to have to show what's going on in the country and what is happening.
"Fingers crossed it goes our way when they announce their decision."
The parents' case centres on a 1995 agreement in which the UK said it would include staff at RAF Croughton on the diplomatic list, but asked the US to waive the immunity of administrative and technical staff in relation to "acts performed outside the course of their duties".
The FCDO says that waiter only applied to staff at RAF Croughton and not their family members, meaning Sacoolas did have immunity at the time of the crash.
But, at a remote hearing on Wednesday, Sam Wordsworth QC - representing Ms Charles and Mr Dunn - said Sacoolas had "no duties at all" at the base and therefore "never had any relevant immunity for the US to waive".
Mr Wordsworth told the court that, under the 1995 agreement, "the US agreed to waive the immunity of the administrative and technical staff from criminal jurisdiction in respect of acts performed outside the course of their duties".
The barrister added: "It follows that administrative and technical staff at RAF Croughton were only ever entitled to a limited immunity.
"Mrs Sacoolas could and did only derive her immunities and privileges from Mr Sacoolas in circumstances where no immunity from criminal jurisdiction was conferred on Mr Sacoolas in respect of acts performed outside the course of his duties.
"Mrs Sacoolas, likewise, had no such immunity, hence she was not immune with respect to the criminal proceedings at issue in this case."
At the end of the hearing on Thursday, Mr Dunn said he thought his son would be "so proud" of his parents.
"He'd be saying to us: 'Don't you stop now - you carry on'.
"We found something we believe is not right and it needs to be fixed and Harry would be saying: 'Come on, let's get the right result'."
The outcome of the hearing may take several weeks to come back, although Lord Justice Flaux, sitting with Mr Justice Saini, said they would give their judgement "as soon as we possibly can".