Anne Sacoolas: who is US national charged over death of Harry Dunn - and when is case going to court in UK?

Anne Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan flew from the UK to the US in the weeks after Harry Dunn’s death, after she received diplomatic immunity

US citizen Sacoolas left the UK in the weeks after the incident near RAF Croughton on 27 August 2019, in which 19-year-old Dunn was killed.

Sacoolas, 44, pleaded diplomatic immunity - a legal loophole protecting foreign diplomats from prosecution - but the case will now be heard in the UK in January 2022.

Here’s what you need to know...

Who is Anne Sacoolas?

Anne Sacoolas is the wife of a US diplomat who was stationed in the UK at a secret base at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, in August 2019.

It is alleged she had been driving on the wrong side of the road close to the RAF base and collided with Harry Dunn’s motorbike in an incident which killed the teenager.

The US has confirmed she had also been an intelligence officer and the family had only been in the UK a few weeks before the incident. She was granted diplomatic immunity.

Sacoolas and her husband, Jonathan, boarded a private jet soon after and flew to the US where they have remained, as the family of Harry Dunn mourned his death back in the UK.

Anne and Jonathan Sacoolas have been married since 2003 and have three children together.

What is diplomatic immunity?

After Anne Sacoolas pleaded for diplomatic immunity, political tensions between the UK and US rose. An initial extradition request from the Home Office was turned down by the US.

Diplomatic immunity is a status reserved for foreign diplomats who do not have British citizenship, which means they cannot be prosecuted for any crime or civil case in the UK.

In this incident, it also applied to the family of US diplomats in a prearranged agreement.

The status is applied to allow foreign diplomats to do their jobs without fear of prosecution under the 1961 Vienna Convention, to encourage peaceful discussions between nations.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations states: "He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with the due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity."

People entitled to diplomatic immunity under the convention are still expected to obey the law.

Why is Anne Sacoolas now facing criminal proceedings?

After two and a half years of campaigning, the family of Harry Dunn will have the facts around his death examined in a UK court.

Anne Sacoolas was charged with causing Harry Dunn’s death by dangerous driving by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in December 2019.

She is expected to appear via video link from the US, though her legal representatives have said an agreement is yet to be reached, when the case will be heard.

The case will be heard on 18 January at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the CPS said.

After hearing the news, Harry Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, said: "My family and I are feeling very emotional and overwhelmed, having just learned the news that Mrs Sacoolas is now to face our justice system. It is all that we asked for following Harry’s death."

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