A US suspect granted diplomatic immunity after a crash which killed teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Harry’s mum Charlotte Charles called the charging of Anne Sacoolas ‘a huge step’ towards seeking the justice she had promised her son (above).
Mrs Sacoolas, the wife of a US intelligence officer, returned to her home country after the car she was driving allegedly collided with the 19-year-old’s motorbike outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27.
The 42-year-old suspect sparked an international controversy after claiming diplomatic immunity — despite the Foreign Office later saying Mrs Sacoolas’s husband was not a registered diplomat in a recognised role.
Chief crown prosecutor Janine Smith, said: ‘Following the death of Harry Dunn in Northamptonshire, the Crown Prosecution Service has today authorised Northamptonshire Police to charge Anne Sacoolas with causing death by dangerous driving.
‘The director of public prosecutions has met with Harry Dunn’s family to explain the basis of the decision we have made following a thorough review of the evidence available.’
After the charging decision, Mrs Charles said: ‘My son died on August 27, doing what he loved most, riding his beloved motorbike.
‘He was riding perfectly safely that evening. He had his whole life in front of him and he was taken from us far too young.
‘The pain of our loss eats away inside us. It is constant and unrelenting.’
She went on: ‘On behalf of our family, I would just like to say that we are relieved that Anne Sacoolas has finally been charged in respect of Harry’s death.
‘Northamptonshire Police told us that we had a less than 1 per cent chance of having anyone held accountable for Harry’s death.
‘Were it not for our friend and neighbour Radd Seiger taking up the matter on our behalf, who became our adviser and spokesman without any fee at all, and our determination to uphold our promise to Harry as he lay dying in hospital that we would get justice for him, we would not be where we are.
‘No one should ever have to go through what we have been through. We are so grateful for all the support the public and media have given us.
‘It is their loud voices and fear that the same thing could happen to them that have focused the minds of those in authority and ensured that this was not swept under the carpet.
‘We now expect Anne Sacoolas to be treated in the same way as any other person and to be subject to the same legal process as the rest of us would be.’
Northamptonshire Police added: ‘We welcome the charging decision announced today by the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to Anne Sacoolas.’
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, families of diplomats are granted immunity from arrest or detention. According to the CPS, immunity does not apply to dependants of consular officials based outside of London.
Mrs Sacoolas was twice interviewed by Northamptonshire Police — once on the day after the crash, and by officers who travelled to the US.
Meanwhile, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said today that a review into the immunity arrangements at Croughton for US personnel and their families had concluded.
It found that it was an ‘anomaly’ that family members had ‘greater protection from UK criminal jurisdiction than the officers themselves’.
Harry’s death was the start of three months of legal battles for the teenager’s family — a judicial review against the Foreign Office, a referral of Northamptonshire Police to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), an investigation into the US administration’s handling of the case and a civil claim against Mrs Sacoolas herself.
Since the investigation into the teenager’s death was launched, the family have taken their fight to the US and met president Donald Trump at the White House.
The meeting with Mr Trump also sparked controversy after it emerged that Mrs Sacoolas had been sitting in the room next door, ready to meet Harry’s parents — an offer the teenager’s family refused.
The decision to charge the suspect came just days after Mrs Charles was left ‘utterly devastated’ by footage which showed Mrs Sacoolas reversing out of her driveway at her home in the state of Virginia.