World, Americas, Europe

Grieving family sues UK, US over son's killer roaming free

Parents of British teenager put up extraordinary fight for justice for their son, killed by US driver who fled scot-free

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal   | 12.11.2019
Grieving family sues UK, US over son's killer roaming free

LONDON

On the evening of Aug. 27, Harry Dunn, a young Englishman riding his motorbike near an air force base, had no idea that a middle-aged American woman driving on the wrong side of the road would collide with him head-on, leading to his being declared dead in hospital shortly thereafter.

The 19-year-old had no any idea that the person that hit him, Anne Sacoolas, was the wife of an American officer who worked at the Royal Air Force Croughton airbase, used by the U.S. military, and that she would flee to her country, escaping prosecution on U.K. soil by claiming diplomatic immunity.

Dunn had a simple life in Barnbury, England, where he lived, and nobody had any idea that this case would make headlines worldwide, not only for the devastation of the loss to his parents and twin brother, but also because the person who caused the young man’s death freely traveled to the U.S. despite promising the local police otherwise, and she was able to do so by abusing the rights granted her under diplomatic immunity. 

Family sues US and UK

Now fighting for justice for their son, Harry’s parents are launching legal battles on both sides of the Atlantic and suing the governments of the U.K. and U.S. for “misconduct.”

The legal challenges have grabbed global attention, as they are lawsuits filed by an “ordinary” British family against both the British and American administrations.

“Firstly, the driver Mrs. Sacoolas must return to the U.K. to face the English justice system,” Radd Seiger, the family’s legal adviser, told Anadolu Agency.

“She took Harry’s life that night and it is gross and disgusting that she simply ran away from the problem, with the help and support of President Trump and his administration,” he added.

“She has admitted her culpability for the collision, having driven on the wrong side off the road for approximately 400 meters [1,312 feet], and is therefore guilty of a very serious crime and is a fugitive on the run. If she does not return voluntarily, then she must be extradited.”

Seiger said the parents are also “suing her for civil damages following the fatality.”

The adviser also said it was “clear that both the U.S. and U.K. governments are guilty of unlawful conduct in respect of allowing her to leave the U.K. after the accident, asserting and accepting that Mrs. Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity, when she never did.”

“That also applies to the British police, who should never have allowed her to leave. All three of them are being sued by the parents to expose that misconduct and the subsequent attempt to cover it up.”

Family disappointed

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Harry’s parents expressed their disappointment, distrust, and anger with the governments of the U.K. and U.S. alike.

“The more our advisers looked into things in both London and Washington, the more problems they found,” said Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles, Harry’s parents.

“They told us that things were just not right and this therefore became a much bigger enquiry where we knew we were standing up for the rights of normal ordinary people like us all around the world.

“When governments abuse their power, we all have to stand up to them and that is just what we are doing in Harry’s name. He was a very principled young man who always believed in right against wrong. We will not let him down in this search for justice. We are doing this for him and all of us.”

They said that having to deal with this legal wrangling “when we should be able to grieve for his loss” is “just awful,” adding: “We have had to shut down emotionally and can’t get closure until this is all done.”

Sacoolas “must present herself” to the local Northamptonshire Police and the courts to go through the legal process, according to the family.

“As for both governments, we intend to fully expose their misconduct through the courts so that the whole world can see the extent to which they have abused their power and harmed us as a family,” they said.

“We will do everything we can to ensure that this never happens again.”

Also lashing out at the British government, the Dunn family said they were lied to by their own government on more than one occasion and that authorities “tried to cover up the truth.”

No diplomatic immunity

Seiger, their lawyer, says “both governments now agree that Mrs. Sacoolas no longer has diplomatic immunity” and “there is therefore no reason now why the police cannot charge her with the serious crime and bring her back to face justice.”

He said “the more difficult part of the project now is exposing the unlawful misconduct, and that will require very high-profile court hearings on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Seiger added: “It is clear that neither government are simply going admit their fault, so the only option available to the parents now is going to court. They know that they are not only seeking justice for Harry, but have a greater responsibility to all of us now to ensure that governments are taught a lesson that they cannot just step on the little person with impunity.

“We all have rights and it is important fight for them when they are abused.”

Trump made us feel ‘unclean’

Harry’s parents also took exception to U.S. President Donald Trump’s treatment of them during their Oct. 16 White House visit, when he offered them, with no warning, a meeting with Sacoolas then and there.

Accusing Trump of not having their interests at heart, the parents said his suggestion to make them meet the person who caused their son’s death was “disgusting” and made them feel “unclean.”

“He gave us no notice of what he intended when he asked us to come to the White House that day,” they said.

“Mrs. Sacoolas had killed Harry just a few weeks earlier and now he just wanted to spring her on us, with the world’s media watching! We had said we would be happy to meet Mrs. Sacoolas one day in the U.K. as part of the legal process, but that would have to be in a controlled environment with mediators and therapists around,” they added.

They said they would rather have had a warning and chance to say “yes or no” to such a meeting, “instead of ambushing us.”

“What a disgusting thing to do to us. We know what he really wanted. He just wanted to buy us off and shove the whole issue under the carpet,” they said.

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