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Image / Editorial

‘From one mother to another’: Family of Harry Dunn seek justice despite challenge of diplomatic immunity


by Amanda Cassidy
11th Oct 2019
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The tragedy of losing their son was made worse by a system that protects diplomats and their families. Amanda Cassidy looks at the case of Harry Dunn and why his parents refuse to give up their fight for justice.


“If she had stayed, we’d have tried to get her a suspended sentence so she could have continued being a mum and not taken away from her own children. But forgiving her for leaving? I’m nowhere near.”

The heartbreaking words of Charlotte Charles, mum to 19-year-old Harry who died in a collision in August with a car allegedly being driven by Anne Sacoolas, a US diplomat’s wife on ‘the wrong side of the road’ in Northamptonshire.

It is believed she left to return to the US shortly after the incident.

“We can’t just let it go like this.”

Justice

Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, Harry’s parents spoke movingly about their campaign to appeal to Ms Sacoolas to come back to the UK to face justice.

His father, Tim said they are prepared to travel to the US to fight her diplomatic immunity claim. “We will appeal to the media in the US to try and get the country to send her back. We got to. We can’t just let it go like this.”

This week, they suffered a setback when US President, Donald Trump spoke about Harry’s case case at a press event.  “We’re going to speak to her and see what we can come up with so there can be some healing.” But it seems less likely Sacoolas will not return to the UK for trial after pictures of Trump’s cue card were photographed on his way into the conference.

It reads: “(If raised) Note, as Secretary Pompeo told Foreign Secretary Raab, that the spouse of the US government employee will not return to the United Kingdom.”

“They think it’s OK to kill a young lad on his bike and they can just walk away.”

Unacceptable

His throwaway remark that “it happens” left Harry’s family disgusted. Mr Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said the US’s apparent approach was “beyond any realm of human thinking”.

Mr Trump said; “The woman was driving on the wrong side of the road, and that can happen. You know, those are the opposite roads, that happens. I won’t say it ever happened to me, but it did. So a young man was killed, the person that was driving the automobile has diplomatic immunity, we’re going to speak to her very shortly and see if we can do something where they meet.”

Downing Street confirmed that the UK Prime Minister, Mr Johnson had also urged the US president to reconsider the decision to grant immunity to Mrs Sacoolas.

Diplomatic immunity is a status reserved for foreign diplomats and their families means that they cannot face court proceedings for any crime or civil case unless the foreign government can waive immunity.

For now, Harry’s parents continue to fight for justice on behalf of their son despite being “let down” by both the UK and US governments. His father said they need some closure so they can mourn their son in peace. “I’m deeply, deeply disappointed that they think it’s OK to kill a young lad on his bike and they can just walk away.”

Image via BBC

Read more: The picture that broke a million hearts and why we can’t look away

Read more: “Let’s stop pretending we are not parents in the workplace’

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