US diplomat wife Anne Sacoolas charged over Harry Dunn death crash

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery

The mother of Harry Dunn has said a decision to charge the wife of a US intelligent officer linked to the death of her son has said they can now look forward to Christmas with hope.

Speaking to ITV News, Charlotte Charles said: "I can go and buy a tree. It sounds a stupid thing to say, just a simple thing like that, but I can actually go and buy a tree."

"We know we can go into Christmas know, for the rest of the family, yes it won't be the same but at least we know when the new year comes we can come back fighting again," his father Tim Dunn added.

US officials have expressed disappointment at the decision, with the State Department saying it fears "it will not bring a resolution closer".

Anne Sacoolas is thought to have been driving on the wrong side of the road when Harry, 19, was knocked off his motorbike near the RAF Croughton base in Northamptonshire in August.

Since seeking diplomatic immunity - owing to her husband's role with the US government as an intelligence official - she skipped the UK in the weeks following the collision and has not returned.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has welcomed the decision to charge Sacoolas.

Family have 'kept promise' to son, mother says

Speaking outside the Crown Prosecution Service on Friday where the family had just been told it was charging Ms Sacoolas with causing the death of Harry by dangerous driving, his mother, Charlotte Charles, said the charge meant she had “kept her promise” to her son.

Ms Charles said: "We feel that we have made a huge step in the start of achieving the promise to Harry that we made.

"We made that promise to him the night we lost him to seek justice thinking it was going to be really easy.

"We had no idea it was going to be so hard and it would take so long but we feel it is a huge step towards that promise we made Harry."

Ms Charles thanked the public and the media for their support.

"I'm going to go and buy a Christmas tree and go decorate it in green lights like so many of our supporters have done," she said.

"I never thought I'd buy a Christmas tree this year so thank you."

Speaking earlier to ITV News, Ms Charles said: “The night we lost him, we had no idea of the fight we were going to have on our hands, but to be able to promise a child - no matter how old they are - of yours that you are going to promise them that you will get justice and that it will be done…”.

“I didn’t realise how immensely difficult that was going to be.

“Any promise we’ve ever made to the children we’ve never broken, no matter what it costs us, and… to be able to feel confident and proud that we carried out that promise and didn’t let him down.”

Harry's father, Tim Dunn, also spoke to ITV News about the level of support the family had received in their ongoing fight for justice.

He said: “I feel the support we have had from the public has been amazing, we couldn’t have done it without their support.

“It just goes to show as a country how we can come together when there is a wrong that’s been done and it makes me a little bit proud that as a country there is the fight in us to get the right result.

“And I just want to say thank you to everybody that’s backed the Harry campaign, thank you so much.”

Harry Dunn's family pledged to get justice after the fatal crash. Credit: PA

After meeting Harry’s family and their spokesman Mr Seiger on Tuesday, foreign secretary Dominic Raab appealed for Ms Sacoolas to “do the right thing and to come back if charged.

Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley, who also met Harry’s father and Mr Seiger earlier that day, said he must remain impartial during the investigation but that could change if a charge is made.

He added that he would focus on steps for extradition once a charge is made.

It's not clear at this stage whether Ms Sacoolas will be forced to answer the charge in the UK or how much cooperation British authorities will receive from their US colleagues in seeking extradition.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already indicated she would not be sent to the UK.

US officials 'disappointed' at decision by British prosecutors

The US State Department said it was "disappointed" at the decision to charge Sacoolas, adding her extradition would be an "egregious abuse" of the law because it was "clear" she had immunity during her time in the UK.

A spokesperson said: "We are disappointed by today's announcement and fear that it will not bring a resolution closer. This was a tragic accident, a young man has lost his life, and his family is grieving.

"No one could hear about this tragic accident and not feel incredible sadness over this loss.

The President, the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador in London, and others in our government have all expressed sincere condolences to the Dunn family for this tragedy."

The spokesperson added: "It is the position of the United States government that a request to extradite an individual under these circumstances would be an egregious abuse.

"The use of an extradition treaty to attempt to return the spouse of a former diplomat by force would establish an extraordinarily troubling precedent.

"We do not believe that the UK's charging decision is a helpful development."

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "I welcome the taking of a charging decision which is an important step towards justice for Harry and towards solace for his family, but it is not the end.

"I hope that Anne Sacoolas will now realise the right thing to do is to come back to the UK and cooperate with the criminal justice process."

Charging decision 'welcomed' by force with investigated fatal crash

Harry Dunn was 19 years old when he died. Credit: Handout

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."

A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman added: "We welcome the charging decision announced today by the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to Anne Sacoolas.

"However, because criminal proceedings are now active, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time."