Harry Dunn's family: 'Our campaign is only possible because we are such a strong team'

Northamptonshire teenager's parents, step-parents and step-brother sit down together to discuss their attempts to fix the world

Saturday, 1st February 2020, 7:21 am
Updated Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 5:01 pm

There is one word that comes to Ciaran Charles' mind when asked how to describe Harry Dunn's family's past few months of campaigning for justice.

"My favourite word for it is unfathomable because you just can't wrap your head around any of it at all," the Northamptonshire teenager's step-brother said.

"Everyone goes through loss and grief but how many people get thrust into the media over a diplomatic immunity scandal, and then go to the White House and all that.

Tim and Tracey Dunn
Tim and Tracey Dunn

"Everybody knows these guys now but it's all for the wrong reasons. So it's very strange and I don't think it will ever sink in to be honest, not for a long time anyway."

Ciaran is referring to his parents, Bruce and Charlotte Charles, step-parents Tim and Tracey Dunn and family advisor/friend/spokesman Radd Seiger.

They have all been working as a team to right the wrongs of the world since Anne Sacoolas flew back to the United States claiming diplomatic immunity over the crash near Croughton in August that killed Harry at the age of 19.

Their shared beliefs unite them - a belief she will come back, a belief that the scandal would have been brushed under the carpet had it not been for them, and a belief that they could not have done any of it without each other.

Harry Dunn

Harry's mum Charlotte said: "I think that's partly what makes it a little bit unique because we wouldn't be able to do it with just Bruce and I or just Tim and Tracey.

"There is very much a togetherness like a big team. We literally are feeding off each other and gaining strength all of the time.

The media storm around the family has seen them swept in front of some of the most powerful people in the world, including the US president and British foreign secretary.

But Charlotte said there has not been a lot of reflection due to their busy schedules and the focus on 'doing what needs to be done for Harry'.

Charlotte and Bruce Charles

They started out feeling like the powers-that-be were against them but they now believe the British authorities on their side - it is just the Americans who they need to convince.

"That's been a long haul and behind all of that shouting, for want of a better word, there's been a lot of heartache," Charlotte said.

Starting their campaign, the family knew they had an uphill battle ahead to ensure the crash was fully investigated by Northamptonshire Police, the UK Government would put their own citizens before the 'special relationship' with the US and the Americans would respect the law.

The family believes simply talking face-to-face to whoever it may be - Chief Constable Nick Adderley, Dominic Raab or Donald Trump, has been the key to getting two out of three, so far.

Harry's mum Charlotte Charles

"Forget all the politics of it all, to get in a room and talk like humans to each other rather than through legal processes is so much better," Bruce said.

But Charlotte is certain that had they done nothing then Harry's death and the 'denial of justice', as Boris Johnson put it, would have been brushed under the carpet.

"Without a doubt, if we hadn't continued to do what we've been doing, we all still do strongly believe that they all hoped we were just going to go away," she said.

The family's campaign is all-encompassing - from raising awareness of the pressure on the emergency services to supporting a new pavilion in Charlton in his memory.

But of all the issues, the biggest is RAF Croughton as they know people scared to drive along the B4031 because of the risk of getting hit somebody on the wrong side of the road, Tracey said.

How the diplomatic immunity treaty applies to the airbase used by the US Air Force is being reviewed while police will be providing road safety support to those working and visiting the base.

Harry Dunn's family (L-R) Bruce Charles, Charlotte Charles, Ciaran Charles, Radd Seiger, Tracey Dunn and Tim Dunn

But the family wants to ensure no American service personnel at any of the British bases involved in a police incident are ever allowed to leave the country.

Tim said: "It's our biggest aim to get RAF Croughton sorted because people in the county can't have the thought of driving along there and getting hit by somebody and not getting justice."

Another important concern for the family is East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) as Harry waited more than 40 minutes for an ambulance after the crash.

The teenager was classed as a category two emergency by the 999 call handler but Tim believes it should have been the highest priority.

"It's difficult as we don't blame the ambulance service but the 42 minutes he was waiting before the ambulance got there is quite a long time," he said.

So they are working with EMAS and the Northamptonshire clinical commissioning groups to raise awareness of how best to tell the call handler about an emergency so it is classed accurately.

Closer to Harry's home in Charlton, his family are working with the village to build a new sports pavilion named after the teenager.

Bruce said: "We don't want it built because of Harry, we just want to help. But to have his name on it would be a fitting tribute and memorial for him."

The family has been overwhelmed by the support they have received.

From the neighbours who put up green ribbons around the area and the strangers donating online to Northampton Town FC putting Harry's face on the big screen at Sixfields during the FA Cup match against Derby County and the protestors showing their anger outside RAF Croughton.

But they are looking forward to the day when the political wrangling and criminal proceedings are over and they can finally grieve for Harry and celebrate his life.

Ciaran said: "Once all of the political stuff blows over and we can actually celebrate Harry and do all of the good stuff in his name, that's the bit I'm looking forward to the most, the good side of it."