Harry Dunn family's long campaign secures court date - Anne Sacoolas to face English court next month over Banburyshire teen's death

The site of the collision between Harry Dunn's motorcycle and Anne Sacoolas' carThe site of the collision between Harry Dunn's motorcycle and Anne Sacoolas' car
The site of the collision between Harry Dunn's motorcycle and Anne Sacoolas' car
A woman who was charged with death by dangerous driving after a Charlton teenager died more than two years ago will face trial in an English court, it has been announced.

Anne Sacoolas, aged 42, who is now in America, was charged in December 2019 after the fatal collision which killed 19-year-old Harry Dunn.

The collision happened on August 27, 2019 outside RAF Croughton where she and her husband were stationed. Harry Dunn’s family have since fought for court proceedings to go ahead.

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Yesterday (Monday) the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed Sacoolas will face the charge in a London court in January 2022.

Charlotte Church, mother of Harry Dunn. Mrs Church has campaigned tirelessly to win justice for her sonCharlotte Church, mother of Harry Dunn. Mrs Church has campaigned tirelessly to win justice for her son
Charlotte Church, mother of Harry Dunn. Mrs Church has campaigned tirelessly to win justice for her son

A CPS spokesman said: “While the challenges and complexity of this case are well known, we remain committed to securing justice in this matter.

“The case will be heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on January 18.

“Anne Sacoolas has a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online, which could in any way prejudice any proceedings.”

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: "Welcome news that Anne Sacoolas will face a UK court. We continue to support the family to get justice for Harry Dunn."

Harry Dunn who was killed in a collision with Anne Sacoolas' car in August 2019Harry Dunn who was killed in a collision with Anne Sacoolas' car in August 2019
Harry Dunn who was killed in a collision with Anne Sacoolas' car in August 2019

Mr Dunn's mother, Charlotte Charles, told the BBC: "My family and I are feeling very emotional and overwhelmed having just learned the news that Mrs Sacoolas is now to face our justice system. It is all that we asked for following Harry's death."

At the time of the collision Harry Dunn was heading out of Croughton on his motorcycle after a visit to his twin brother, Niall's, house.

The teen was hit head-on by a car Sacoolas is alleged to have been driving, which had just left RAF Croughton and was driving towards the village on the right-hand-side of the road.

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The base is used by the US Air Force as a surveillance centre and Sacoolas' husband, Jonathan, was based there on behalf of the American government.

Harry Dunn's family, Bruce Charles, Charlotte Charles, Ciaran Charles, Radd Seiger (adviser and spokesperson for the Family of HarryDunn), Tracey Dunn and Tim DunnHarry Dunn's family, Bruce Charles, Charlotte Charles, Ciaran Charles, Radd Seiger (adviser and spokesperson for the Family of HarryDunn), Tracey Dunn and Tim Dunn
Harry Dunn's family, Bruce Charles, Charlotte Charles, Ciaran Charles, Radd Seiger (adviser and spokesperson for the Family of HarryDunn), Tracey Dunn and Tim Dunn

Harry was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford after suffering serious injuries but was pronounced dead a few hours later with his parents beside him.

Anne Sacoolas was initially co-operative with police but the next day the force was informed she had diplomatic immunity and could not be prosecuted.

That claim of diplomatic immunity was at the centre of the ensuing scandal as it was based on a loophole in the agreement for US diplomats based at RAF Croughton.

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It was agreed in the 1990s that diplomats at the base would not get immunity for actions taken outside of their jobs, such as a car crash, but it did not explicitly include their families.

Because Anne Sacoolas was officially designated a spouse with the British government, US government lawyers argued the waiver did not apply to her and she could claim diplomatic immunity.

Three weeks after the crash, she and her family flew back to the States, despite Northamptonshire Police's attempt to get the immunity revoked.

That prompted Harry's family to start their campaign to shed light on their injustice and get Anne Sacoolas before a British court. The campaign made headlines across the globe.

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It has taken them from protests outside RAF Croughton and in London to meetings with the foreign secretary in Whitehall and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Anne Sacoolas was charged with causing death by dangerous driving by the Crown Prosecution Service in December, 2019 and the Home Office applied for her extradition, which the US State Department rejected.

Mrs Sacoolas, who previously worked for the CIA, refused to return to the UK for fear of being unfairly tried.

Harry's family have fought on regardless, challenging the diplomatic immunity claim in the High Court, suing the Sacoolases for damages in the US and keeping getting justice for him a priority for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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Charlotte Church told JPI Media in August that the critical moment of change in the campaign came when President Biden won the election last November.

"Prior to that, we knew that President Trump, Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo and Attorney General Bill Barr were flatly refusing to reverse the decision.

"We just knew that President Biden would take a different approach to our case with his focus on human rights, his more empathetic approach generally, and that he had lost family members in a car crash. We knew that him coming into power was a game changer.

"Our spokesman, Radd Seiger, got to work straight away and through a lot of dialogue and effort in London and Washington, we were overjoyed to see that Boris Johnson and President Biden announced at G7 that the path to justice had been cleared.

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"We are very confident that our main campaign objective of ensuring that there is accountability for Harry’s loss will be achieved sooner rather than later."

The family has thanked the support of their community in south Northants and also the American service people at the Croughton base.

Mrs Church said: "The case remains at such a high profile on every continent and we still get thousands of supportive messages from all over the world.

"It is unbelievable to us that Harry’s passing has had such a massive impact on people and I hope that the US government will have learned its lesson and do the right thing next time instead of trying to run away from its moral and legal obligations.

"I also hope that people will see what is possible when you refuse to accept injustice lying down and that we inspire others to fight for what is right."

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