Northamptonshire Police 'absolved of any blame' over Harry Dunn scandal, according to family

Force was 'left in the dark' by government officials who allowed Anne Sacoolas to leave the UK, campaigners argue

Monday, 27th July 2020, 12:16 pm
Updated Monday, 27th July 2020, 12:20 pm

Harry Dunn's family have dropped their legal case against Northamptonshire Police after becoming satisfied the force was not at fault for denying the teenager justice.

Police did not grant diplomatic immunity to Anne Sacoolas, the American driver accused of killing the 19-year-old in a wrong-way crash in south Northamptonshire, nor allow her to leave the country, according to the campaigners.

The decision comes after the Foreign Office released new documents to the family as part of their judicial review into the government's handling of the scandal.

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Harry Dunn

A statement from the family said: "Having carefully reviewed the documents disclosed by the foreign secretary, the parents are now satisfied that the police are absolved of any blame and could have done no more last August and September to ensure that Mrs Sacoolas was brought to justice.

"The documents clearly show that the police investigation was effectively stopped in its tracks abruptly when the foreign office told the police shortly after Harry died that Mrs Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity, despite the fact that internal documents in the Foreign Office show that there was very real uncertainty about that.

"The documents reveal that the Foreign Office kept the police in the dark for 14 days over the uncertainty surrounding Mrs Sacoolas’ claim to immunity, failed to tell them that Mrs Sacoolas was planning to leave the country, and then did not tell the police that she had gone until the day after she left.

"In the United Kingdom, it is the police’s responsibility to establish who has diplomatic immunity, not the foreign secretary's - yet he and his team did just that, the parents say unlawfully."

Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police, Nick Adderley, addresses the media during a press conference about the Harry Dunn scandal in October, 2019

Harry died in hospital after the head-on crash with Sacoolas' car near Croughton on August 27, 2019.

She claimed diplomatic immunity as the wife of an American serviceman at RAF Croughton as the waiver for the base used by the United States Air Force did not explicitly include spouses.

Sacoolas, a former CIA official herself, then left the UK a few weeks after the crash, sparking the family's international campaign calling for her to return.

Harry's family argue she never should have been granted immunity and the Foreign Office is at fault for accepting the US government's position and allowing her to go back to the States.

Northamptonshire Police had been included in their application for a judicial review as the force was involved but it is now clear they were 'left in the dark' by Whitehall as much as the family, they claim.

Police will now just be an 'interested party' in the hearing, scheduled for November, to supplement the evidence and documents available to the High Court

The family's statement added: "Northamptonshire Police issued a statement last week saying that they continue to work with the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that Mrs Sacoolas returns to the UK to face justice.

"There is no question that that is what she must do."

The Foreign Office says it acted lawfully throughout while Northamptonshire Police did not want to comment while the court proceedings are ongoing.