The parents of a 19-year-old motorcyclist killed in a head-on collision with an American driver may have lost their High Court battle over whether the woman who fatally struck their son had diplomatic immunity but are now they are more determined than ever to see that justice prevails in their son’s death.
”I promised my boy I would get him justice and that is just what we are going to do. No one is going to stand in our way,” Harry Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said after the ruling, the Associated Press reported. Charles said she and her family "are more focused now than ever on fulfilling our promise.”
Charles and Harry's father, Tim Dunn, plan to appeal the ruling, family spokesman Radd Seiger said.
Harry was killed in August 2019 when his motorbike collided with a vehicle being driven by 43-year-old American Anne Sacoolas near RAF Croughton, a Royal Air Force base in Northamptonshire used by the U.S. Air Force for its communications. Sacoolas then traveled to the United States, citing diplomatic immunity.
In December, Sacoolas was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, but an extradition request was denied in January.
Lord Justice Flaux and Justice Saini ruled that Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity "on arrival in the U.K." under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. As this had not been "expressly waived," it meant Sacoolas "had immunity at the time of Harry's death." It was concluded "that Sacoolas enjoyed immunity from U.K. criminal jurisdiction at the time of Harry's death,” they said, the BBC reported.
The family's case centered on a 1995 agreement between the U.K. and the U.S. granting immunity to administrative and technical staff at the RAF base, which the U.S. waived in relation to "acts performed outside the course of their duties,” the news outlet wrote.
According to the BBC, lawyers for Dunn and Charles said that the Foreign Office "took upon itself the authority to resolve the question of immunity and ultimately and unlawfully decided to accept the US embassy's decision that Anne Sacoolas had immunity.”
In written submissions, the Foreign Office said its officials had "objected in strong terms" to Sacoolas leaving the U.K., and said it repeatedly emphasized that the department "wanted the Sacoolas family to co-operate with the U.K. authorities."
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab noted that it was important that the High Court found that the Foreign Office behaved acted properly, lawfully and in good faith, but also recognized it won't provide any solace to the family.
“My heart is with them. We’ve made it clear right from the onset that we are on their side and that we stand with them. We’ve called and we will continue to call for Anne Sacoolas to return home to face justice in the U.K. and we will continue to offer support the family with their legal claim in the U.S.,” Raab told the BBC.
The High Court also rejected a claim by Harry’s parents that the Foreign Office had "usurped" Northamptonshire Police's investigation into their son's death. Flaux and Saini found officials had "sought to assist rather than obstruct Northamptonshire Police in their investigation.”
In a statement, Harry's father said, "It’s bad enough feeling the horrible pain of not having Harry around and missing him, but I can't believe the governments are putting us through this.”
”It all seems so cruel and needless and I am just as angry today as I ever have been but so determined to see it all through until we have justice," he said.
The family's spokesperson took to Twitter after the judgment Tuesday.
“Harry’s totally innocent family continue to find themselves in the middle of a war and are being tortured right in front of our eyes each and every day... This judgment is simply wrong and we believe this Court has not grasped the issues in the case which are completely novel and untested," Seiger wrote. "The parents are immediately appealing against this judgment on strong legal advice and will take their case to the highest court in the land for a definitive ruling, which this one from the lower Court is not.
“More important, however, the bottom line remains that you do not get to kill someone and walk away in 21st Century Britain, no matter who you are," Seiger continued.