Could Harry Dunn crash driver agree to a virtual trial?

Could Harry Dunn crash driver agree to a virtual trial? American diplomat’s wife who is accused of killing motorcyclist, 19, is willing to discuss hearing the case in a UK court

  •  Harry Dunn, 19, died when his motorcycle was struck by car near RAF Croughton
  • Anne Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity after the collision in August 2019
  • Director of Public Prosecutions the family today that he was ‘actively considering’ a virtual trial for Sacoolas in an ‘unprecedented legal scenario’

The American driver accused of killing motorcyclist Harry Dunn is willing to discuss taking part in a virtual trial in a UK court, it was claimed yesterday.

The Director of Public Prosecutions told 19-year-old Harry’s parents on Wednesday he was ‘actively considering’ a virtual trial for Anne Sacoolas, 43, in an ‘unprecedented legal scenario’. 

Yesterday, sources close to the mother-of-three said she wished to speak to British authorities to find a path forward. But it is understood she has not yet been formally approached.

The family of Harry Dunn (pictured) have been told that his alleged killer is willing to discuss taking part in a virtual trial in a UK court

Anne Sacoolas (pictured) claimed diplomatic immunity following the collision in August 2019 that took the life of the 19-year-old

Harry’s motorbike was hit by a car on the wrong side of the road outside RAF Croughton – a US intelligence base – in Northamptonshire last year.

Mrs Sacoolas, who is married to a US intelligence officer, fled the UK controversially claiming diplomatic immunity. 

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in her absence last December.

But Mr Max Hill QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, told Mr Dunn’s parents Tim Dunn, 50, and Charlotte Charles, 45, that he believed Mrs Sacoolas did not have diplomatic immunity when she left the UK.

Mrs Sacoolas claimed she was immune from prosecution after her Volvo SUV collided head-on with 19-year-old Harry’s motorbike in August 2019.

The DPP’s assessment of the position puts him at odds with the stance taken by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who told the Commons last October that Mrs Sacoolas did have immunity.

 File photo dated yesterday shows the family of Harry Dunn, mother Charlotte Charles (left) and father Tim Dunn (right) with their partners, arriving at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, where they met with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

In December, three months after she flew home to Virginia with her family, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charged Mrs Sacoolas with causing the teenager’s death by dangerous driving over the crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.

In response to the charge, Mrs Sacoolas’s US lawyer, Amy Jeffress, said her client would not ‘return voluntarily’ to the UK over what was described as a ‘terrible but unintentional accident’.

In January this year an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by the US State Department.

Last month the Dunn family were informed that Attorney General Suella Braverman QC was examining the possibility of a virtual trial or a trial in the absence of Mrs Sacoolas.

A letter sent by the CPS to the Dunns’ MP, Andrea Leadsom, this week described holding a virtual trial as ‘an unprecedented legal scenario’.

It added: ‘Before such a step could be even contemplated, a host of factors (both legal and diplomatic) would have to be considered.’

It is understood that Mrs Sacoolas has not yet been formally approached about the matter.

Following Wednesday’s meeting with Mr Hill, the Dunn family’s spokesman, Radd Seiger, said the family had been told that the US Government would only agree to a virtual trial if it was under US law – something he surmised would be a ‘show trial’.

Mr Seiger said the Dunn family would only accept a virtual trial if the suspect was tried under UK law.

He added: ‘Yesterday, Max Hill QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, shockingly told us that the US administration’s position remains that there are no circumstances in which Mrs Sacoolas would submit herself to the English legal jurisdiction.

‘It now appears, if what is being said is true, that Mrs Sacoolas herself holds a different position.

‘I would therefore urge the Attorney General to bypass the US administration and go straight to Mrs Sacoolas’s lawyers to make this possibility a reality.

‘There can be no further delay for the sake of these parents – they are suffering intolerable pain.’

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