Attorney General considering virtual trial for Harry Dunn's alleged killer

25 August 2020, 18:30

The Attorney General says he is considering a virtual trial for Harry Dunn's killer Anne Sacoolas
The Attorney General says he is considering a virtual trial for Harry Dunn's alleged killer Anne Sacoolas. Picture: PA

By Megan White

The Attorney General is considering the possibility of trying Harry Dunn's alleged killer virtually or in her absence, the Lord Chancellor has said.

The Dunn family's MP, Andrea Leadsom, wrote to ministers asking for them to consider the possibility of Anne Sacoolas standing trial while she is still in the US.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC, the first minister to reply to the request, said that "holding a trial virtually or in absentia are... being considered" by Suella Braverman QC.

Mr Dunn, 19, was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside a US military base in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.

Sacoolas, 42, the wife of a US intelligence official, claimed diplomatic immunity following the crash and was able to return to her home country, sparking an international controversy.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in December but an extradition request was rejected by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the following month - a decision later described by the US State Department as "final".

Harry Dunn's family scattered his ashes at one of his favourite holiday spots in Dorset
Harry Dunn's family scattered his ashes at one of his favourite holiday spots in Dorset. Picture: PA

In a letter to Mrs Leadsom, Mr Buckland said: "I quite understand how important it must be to Harry's family, as the anniversary of his death approaches, to achieve some sort of closure.

"The suggestions you put forward for resolving the impasse by holding a trial virtually or in absentia are as you know being considered by the Attorney General, and she will respond as decisions about criminal proceedings in individual cases are a matter for her and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Read more: 'Scattering his ashes was harder than his funeral' - Harry Dunn's family speaks out

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"My officials stand ready, however, to assist in any way they can."

Speaking after Mr Buckland's letter, Mr Dunn's mother Charlotte Charles said: "My family and I have not been able to grieve this year without justice and closure.

"It is doing us real harm and I can't believe how cruel the US government are being.

"We all know what their position would be if this had happened to any of their children. "They should be in no doubt - my family and I are going nowhere until we fulfil that promise to Harry.

"I can see the authorities in London are doing everything they can to ensure that that is just what is going to happen but we will leave them to decide how it happens."

After learning that a virtual trial was being considered, family spokesman Radd Seiger said: "If the authorities decide that a British trial led by a British judge in a British Court should take place with Mrs Sacoolas attending virtually, then the parents will raise no objection.

"They have never been concerned with the outcome of any criminal case. "Their measured, respectful call has simply been that Mrs Sacoolas must go through it.

"The outcome is not within the control of any victim of a crime but every victim is entitled to see that the life of their lost loved one did mean something, did matter, and that they had a fair crack of the whip at justice."

A government spokesperson said: "The Government's deepest sympathies remain with Harry's family. We are doing everything we can to achieve justice and the case continues to be raised at the highest levels."

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