Foreign Office officials failed to inform Northamptonshire police that Harry Dunn’s alleged killer would be returning to the US after the crash in which he died, it has been claimed.
Sacoolas was granted diplomatic immunity and fled Britain nearly three weeks after the car she was driving allegedly collided with 19-year-old Harry’s motorbike outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27.
When the Foreign Office was told she would be returning to the US – despite being under investigation in relation to the crash – it’s officials allegedly didn’t pass the information on to Northamptonshire Police whose responsibility was to establish whether she had diplomatic immunity.
It comes as Harry’ parents say they are unable to sue their son’s alleged killer due to a delay in police handing over an accident investigation report. It has also been claimed that Sacoolas – whom the US has refused to extradite to the UK – is said to be ‘desperate’ to return to Britain to meet Harry’s parents but will not surrender to police custody.
Anne Sacoolas (pictured back in the US) was granted diplomatic immunity and fled Britain nearly three weeks after the car she was driving allegedly collided with 19-year-old Harry’s motorbike outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27
The parents of Harry Dunn (pictured) have claimed they are unable to sue their son’s alleged killer due to a delay in police handing over an accident investigation report
In the days after Harry Dunn’s death, police say the Foreign Office told them Anne Sacoolas had immunity and they would seek a waiver. But over the following fortnight, Northamptonshire Police say they were not told about discussions in the UK about the legality of that immunity, according to ITV News.
On Friday September 13, two Senior Foreign Office officials met US embassy counterparts who said diplomatic immunity wouldn’t be waived and the Sacoolas family would return to US the next day unless the UK had strong objections – which officials say they expressed.
The following day, a senior Foreign Office official purportedly sent a text message to their US embassy counterpart saying: ‘I think that now the decision has been taken not to waive [immunity] there’s not much mileage in us asking you to keep the family here. It’s obviously not us approving of their departure but I think you should feel able to put them on the next flight out…’
On Sunday, September 15 Anne Sacoolas and her family flew back to America. Northamptonshire Police allegedly only found out she had gone in a foreign office call the next day.
Documents seen by ITV News say the senior investigating officer recalls being told Anne Sacoolas had contacted Foreign Office officials days before leaving asking if there was anything stopping her and her family from going.
Harry Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles and stepfather Bruce Charles outside the Ministry Of Justice in London late last year
Charlotte Charles, Harry Dunn’s mother says she is shocked by revelations.
‘I’m really angry,’ she said. ‘It’s just beyond belief that given the number of times we’ve with met them. We should have been properly grieving in those first few months
‘We should have been given the chance and we deserved the truth.
‘To send that in a text message. I mean seriously who the hell have we got running our country?’
A month after the text message – on October 21 last year – Dominic Rabb gave this account of the Foreign Office reaction to learning Anne Sacoolas was leaving.
‘We duly and immediately objected in clear and strong terms and we have done ever since.’
ITV News has seen a Foreign Office email copied to Dominic Rabb’s Private Secretary three days after the crash outlining what happened. It reveals concern over the potential for ‘some very unpalatable headlines’.
Harry Dunn would have turned 20 last month. His birthday fell on Mother’s day this year.
His mother said: ‘Ever since the birthday…every day you know that he’s always ever only going to be 19. The plans that he had are never going to happen. When the birthday came round he’s always only going to be 19.’
Asked whether she can ever trust the foreign secretary in the light of the recent revelations, Ms Charles said: ‘Never, nor his team. I’ll never trust any of them again. As far as I’m concerned he needs to completely re-evaluate the position he holds.’
Tim Dunn, Harry’s father, added: ‘I felt from the start they lied and they’ve messed it up. We must get the truth for Harry’s sake.. He was a good lad and he deserves it.’
Radd Seiger, adviser and spokesperson for the family of Harry Dunn added: ‘It is now crystal clear that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office let Harry’s family down badly after he died. There is now no doubt about it.
‘Serious questions will have to be asked. In not passing relevant information and material about the ambiguity of Mrs Sacoolas’ diplomatic position to Northamptonshire Police, who’s responsibility it was to establish if she had diplomatic immunity, the FCO interfered in the police’s investigation into the case. It does not get more serious than that.
‘Worse still, they let Mrs Sacoolas return to the USA when they had no right to do so, having agreed themselves with the American Government that she did have immunity.
‘On top of it all, they have done their level best to cover this all up. We will call for a full enquiry and investigation, possibly a criminal one, when we know the full truth.’
The family of Harry Dunn (left to right) mother Charlotte Charles, stepfather Bruce Charles, family spokesman Radd Seiger, father Tim Dunn and stepmother Tracey Dunn outside the Ministry Of Justice in London in December last year
He added: ‘We do not yet know who was responsible for making these decisions. But let me be clear, given the damage and anguish this has caused to the family, we will find out and ensure that those responsible for this obvious misconduct in public office will be held to account.
‘We will leave no stone unturned in our search for the truth, no matter how high up the chain this goes and woe betide anyone who attempts stands in our way.
‘It is high time the FCO come clean, admit their conduct, drop their absurd defence to the Judicial Review and approach us to discuss openly and with transparency what they are going to do to clear this mess up for the benefit of the family. It is the least they deserve after all they have been through.’
An FCO spokesperson said: ‘We consistently called for Anne Sacoolas’s immunity to be waived before she left the UK. Both the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have been clear with the US that the refusal to extradite her amounts to a denial of justice, and that she should return to the UK.
‘We have the deepest sympathy for Harry’s family. We have done and will continue to do everything we properly can to ensure that justice is done.’
A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said: ‘Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn are presently seeking to bring a judicial review against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police. It would therefore be inappropriate for Northamptonshire Police to comment further at this time.’
It comes as lawyers acting on behalf of Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn have said they asked for an accident investigation report in early January in order to pursue a civil claim against 42-year-old US suspect Anne Sacoolas.
The family’s spokesman said the claim is essential in order for them to avoid ‘financial hardship’ – adding that their financial position has been made ‘repeatedly clear’ to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Northamptonshire Police.
Sacoolas spoke to police at the scene after crashing into the 19-year-old’s motorbike while driving on the wrong side of the road last August. Her husband was an intelligence officer at nearby RAF Croughton, a US spy base in Northamptonshire.
But the mother-of-three flew home with her family before any formal interview or charge, claiming diplomatic immunity.
Anne Sacoolas has been charged with causing the death of British teen, Harry Dunn by way of Dangerous Driving. She is seen here leaving her house in a car in Virginia, December 15, 2019
Harry Dunn, pictured in January 2014, with his newborn niece Lola Harber. He died in a collision outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August
Mr Seiger said the family are considering making an application to court should they not receive the report by Friday.
A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said they have been working with the family’s lawyers and the CPS to identify material that could be released ‘without prejudicing any criminal trial’.
Sacoolas was charged with causing death by dangerous driving last year but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January.
Mr Seiger said authorities are ‘conspiring to add to the family’s misery’
He said: ‘Harry’s family have, through their lawyer in Washington DC, been attempting to launch their civil claims in the USA for a number of months.
‘One of the documents that the lawyers in America need is the police accident investigation report. We have been requesting it since early January.
‘As the Crown Prosecution Service make clear in their own guidance, such requests for disclosure should generally be actioned as soon as possible.’
Mr Seiger continued: ‘The courts recognise the importance of families such as Harry’s being able to bring civil claims early on in order to avoid financial hardship.
‘As has been made repeatedly clear to the CPS and Northamptonshire Police, that is exactly the position that the family find themselves in.
‘Yet, all these months on, we still do not have the report.
‘That is unforgivable and the authorities are now conspiring to add to the family’s misery as if they were not enduring enough misery.
‘We have made it clear that we will be making an application to court in the next few days if it is not disclosed.’
In a statement, a spokesman for the force said: ‘Following the tragic death of Harry Dunn, Northamptonshire Police commenced a criminal investigation.
‘A file of evidence was prepared and handed to the Crown Prosecution Service on November 1 2019.
Since the crash which killed Harry, the county’s police force has said it investigated two other incidents of Americans allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road. Pictured is a crash in the same area which allegedly involved an American driver on the wrong side of the road
‘After considering the evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service authorised Northamptonshire Police to charge Anne Sacoolas with causing Harry’s death by dangerous driving.
‘In December 2019, the CPS began extradition proceedings, which are ongoing.
‘We remain committed to securing justice through the criminal justice system in the UK and will not take any action that will prejudice this.
‘The family have indicated they wish to pursue a claim for compensation against Anne Sacoolas in the United States.
‘We wish to support the family in that action and we have been working with the family’s lawyers and the Crown Prosecution Service to identify documentation that can be released without prejudicing any criminal trial.’
On Saturday Harry’s parents pleaded with the head of the Armed Forces to set up a meeting with base chiefs after claims of ‘three near misses’ involving their staff. In a letter to General Sir Nick Carter, they wrote that the base could not ‘practise splendid isolation’ when it comes to safety.
Since the crash which killed Harry, the county’s police force has said it investigated two other incidents of Americans allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road.
Last week, there were claims a third member of staff smashed into a fence in a nearby village after driving on the wrong side of the road.
Prosecutors have said Mrs Sacoolas should be charged with causing death by dangerous driving but the US has rejected an extradition request.
Last week, there were claims a third member of staff smashed into a fence in a nearby village after driving on the wrong side of the road. Pictured is a sign for RAF Croughton – near the site of Harry’s crash
A British security source, who had been in contact with counterparts in America, said: ‘We’re told she’s aware it’s cold comfort to Harry’s family but she has had sleepless nights since this tragic accident.’
Although Mrs Sacoolas has previously said she was ‘terribly, terribly sorry for that tragic mistake’, she has not met Harry’s parents.
The divorced couple went to the White House last October to raise the case with Donald Trump but he tried to ambush them into meeting Mrs Sacoolas by revealing she was in the next room.
Mrs Charles, 45, of Charlton, Northamptonshire, and Mr Dunn, 50, of nearby Brackley, were stunned and refused to see her.
The source told the Sunday Express: ‘She is still desperate to tell them in person how sorry she is.’
Any meeting would coincide with a trip to the UK later this year when Mrs Sacoolas is due to lecture at the Defence College of Intelligence in Bedfordshire.
In February, it was revealed she had been a CIA agent but had not been on active duty while in the UK.