02 Nov Harry Dunn death: US diplomat denied ‘virtual’ trial | UK News
The alleged killer of Harry Dunn is being urged to surrender to a UK court, for a “proper trial”.
Nineteen-year-old Mr Dunn was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 last year.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Anne Sacoolas admitted the 43-year-old had been driving on the wrong side of the road for around 20 seconds before the collision.
Initially a virtual trial had been discussed but Chief Crown Prosecutor for the East Midlands Janine Smith has told representatives of the man’s family that would mean Sacoolas “would not surrender to the court nor accept the court’s powers”.
She said the CPS believed there was no other way for Sacoolas to surrender “apart from… physically returning to the jurisdiction”.
Her words come despite a letter sent on behalf of US President Donald Trump to the family’s constituency MP Andrea Leadsom, in which the US Embassy said it was its “sincere hope” the CPS would make proposals for a virtual trial to Sacoolas’s lawyers.
Ms Smith told the family’s representatives that an extradition request for the suspect, which was rejected by the US State Department in January, was no longer live.
She added that, if the family was to win its court battle over the diplomatic immunity asserted on behalf of Sacoolas, the CPS “may be able to consider making a further request for extradition”.
In a letter to the Dunn family’s representatives, Ms Smith said: “We have recently written again to the lawyers representing Anne Sacoolas, explaining the next step in this case is for her to surrender to the jurisdiction of the court.
“We confirmed to them that we do not wish to stand in the way of commencing and concluding the criminal proceedings but a proper trial would need to take place.
“We explained to them that we will consider ways and opportunities to move this case forward but this can only be on the basis that Anne Sacoolas surrenders to the jurisdiction of the UK court.”
Sacoolas was able to leave the UK 19 days after the crash after the US government asserted diplomatic immunity on her behalf.
The family has contested the decision and the High Court will determine whether the suspect was entitled to immunity later this month.
Updating the family about the prospect of a virtual trial, Ms Smith continued: “When we spoke of a virtual trial at our meeting with you, the (Director of Public Prosecutions) explained that the coronavirus legislation was introduced specifically to deal with cases during the pandemic and it wasn’t intended that the legislation would allow suspects to appear from another country.
“As we explained in the meeting, we are concerned that Anne Sacoolas would not surrender to the court nor accept the court’s powers.
“We have not been able to identify any other method, apart from Anne Sacoolas physically returning to the jurisdiction, by which her surrendering to the court could be achieved.”
Ms Smith added: “As you know, the extradition request was issued and refused by the US Secretary of State on the basis of diplomatic immunity.
“The request is no longer live but, following the Judicial Review, depending on the outcome, we may be able to consider making a further request for extradition.”
Reacting to the CPS’s letter, the family’s spokesman Radd Seiger said: “Having seen this latest letter from the chief prosecutor, Harry’s parents are just grateful that the CPS are doing their job.
“They are clearly doing it very well and they were very clear when we met with them on September 9 that the virtual trial which was being proposed would not deliver justice.
“This case is all about justice and upholding the rule of law.
“The CPS remain intent on ensuring that Mrs Sacoolas comes back to the UK to answer the charges laid against her.
“That has been the parents’ position from the outset and that is precisely what must happen.”
Sacoolas’s lawyers and the CPS have been approached for comment.