Sacoolas will not return to UK for Harry Dunn hearing, say lawyers


Show caption A banner and a memorial area for British teenager Harry Dunn who died in a road traffic collision near to the entrance of RAF Croughton, in Croughton, near Brackley. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Reuters UK news Sacoolas will not return to UK for Harry Dunn hearing, say lawyers Woman charged with causing death of motorcyclist in August 2019 also yet to agree to appear by videolink Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor Tue 14 Dec 2021 13.14 GMT Share on Facebook

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Lawyers acting for Anne Sacoolas, the woman charged with causing the death of 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn in August 2019 have insisted she will not be returning to the UK to attend a hearing, insisting the collision was a terrible accident.

They also added that she had yet not agreed to appear by videolink, raising questions over a hearing due to start at Westminster magistrates court on 18 January. Announcement of the hearing was made on Monday by the Crown Prosecution Service

Radd Seiger, the adviser to the Dunn’s parents said: “I cannot comment on what her [Sacoolas’s] lawyers are saying. All I can say is that the Crown Prosecution Service very rarely speaks publicly. They have told us the first hearing will be Westminster magistrates court on 18 January. That is what we are going with.”

The news of the hearing was welcomed by the foreign secretary, Liz Truss. She said the UK would continue to seek justice for the Dunn family.

Amy Jeffress the lawyer acting for Sacoolas in the US said her client would not return to the UK to face a potential jail sentence of up to 14 years for what she claimed was a terrible but unintentional accident.

No agreement had been reached on attendance via videolink, it was added. “While we have always been willing to discuss a virtual hearing, there is no agreement at this time,” a separate spokeswoman for the Arnold & Porter law firm said. That raises the possibility that Sacoolas has agreed to make a statement to the court.

Seiger said: “Our point of principle is that you do not get to do this sort of thing and just walk away.”

He said it was up to the courts to make a judgment, adding: “We are not about separating this woman from her family. We do not want that either. We just want an acknowledgement, a recognition that if you do something wrong in your host country you face the consequences.”

He also praised Joe Biden, and said the family received signals early on that the US president was going to take a different approach to that Donald Trump had taken. He claimed the US recognised that this was never going to go away

He added that the former foreign secretary Dominic Raab fully accepted that decisions were made in the Foreign Office that should not have been made, and lessons have been learned.

He said Raab’s first duty was to Dunn’s family rather than relations with the US, which he had put first. At some stage, he said, there should be an inquiry in parliament about how the case was handled by diplomats, including the decision to allow the Sacoolas family to leave for the US with the US government citing diplomatic immunity.

The US claimed the RAF Croughton site – where Sacoolas’s husband worked – provided immunity to the families of US staff working there, a point disputed by the family.

Separately a civil claim has been settled in a district court in Virginia. Seiger refused to say if this involved a financial settlement.

• This article was amended on 14 December 2021 to correct the name of the base to RAF Croughton, not RAF Broughton as stated in an earlier version.