Harry Dunn death: Family left ‘angry and frustrated’ after ‘publicity stunt’ meeting with foreign secretary

Boris Johnson personally asks Donald Trump to ‘reconsider the US position’ on granting immunity to suspect

Samuel Osborne
Wednesday 09 October 2019 17:44 BST
Harry Dunn's family ask Anne Sacoolas to come back to the UK so they can begin their 'grieving process'

The family of a teenager killed in a car crash involving a US diplomat’s wife have said they have been left “angry and frustrated” after meeting with Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, which they described as a “publicity stunt”.

Harry Dunn, 19, was killed when his motorbike collided with a car in Northamptonshire on 27 August.

The suspect in the case, 42-year-old Anne Sacoolas, was granted diplomatic immunity following the crash and fled the UK.

The car was thought to have been driving on the wrong side of the road after leaving RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire – a military base used by the US Air Force.

Mr Raab met Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, and father, Tim Dunn, on Wednesday afternoon after having talks with the US ambassador, Woody Johnson, on Tuesday.

Giving a statement on behalf of the family, spokesman Radd Seiger said: “To say we are disappointed with the outcome would be an understatement.

“We are frustrated. We are angry.”

Speaking to reporters outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office following the meeting with Mr Raab, Mr Seiger added: “We are extremely grateful for the opportunity and that we’ve had that time with him.”

“We need some time to gather our thoughts and compose ourselves. We just need about an hour or so to gather our thoughts,” he said.

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Charles said she felt “let down by both governments”.

“I can’t really see the point we were invited to see Dominic Raab, we are no further forward than where we were this time last week,” she said.

“Part of me is feeling like it was just a publicity stunt on the UK Government side to show they are trying to help.

“But, although he is engaging with us, we have no answers. We are really frustrated that we could spend half an hour or more with him and just come out with nothing.”

Asked by reporters if Mr Raab said he would “continue to pressure” the US, Mr Dunn’s father Tim Dunn said: “I don’t know if pressure is the right word.

“He said he would ask again, I don’t want to say anything too horrible but I wasn’t impressed today.

“I felt extremely let down by the government today, or by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“I’m deeply, deeply disappointed that they think it’s okay to kill a young lad on his bike and they can just walk away. I’m so disappointed with today.”

Mr Dunn said he did not believe the government had any “clout” in the situation, adding he did not think the prime minister’s involvement would “do any good”.

He added: “I don’t think the government or the Commonwealth Office have any clout to do anything.

“I don’t think Boris will do any good either.”

Ms Charles said the family is still determined to fight for justice for their son.

She said: “We will still keep going. There’s still fire in our bellies to continue.

“We’ve always had an extra feeling over the top of that utter awful nausea feeling that you get every morning when you wake up and you realise you’ve lost your boy.

“There’s always been another gut feeling in our tummies that something is not right. And as parents I think you know when something just isn’t clear enough.

“We are not going to stop here. We have said all along we agreed as a family if we didn’t get anywhere today, it’s not going to stop us. We will go to Washington.”

The lawyer for Mr Dunn’s family said they are engaging lawyers to take a civil case against Ms Sacoolas in the US.

“Our position is that she doesn’t have immunity and that waivers are always granted in these circumstances,” Radd Seiger told reporters in Westminster on Wednesday.

“Now we can disclose to you we have brought lawyers on board ... We are going to Washington soon to help us get that justice for Harry.”

Mr Raab said the government was “continuing to press US authorities” to allow police to follow up their inquiries into the motorcyclist’s death.

The foreign secretary said: “I share the frustration of Harry’s mother and father. They have lost their son and the justice process is not being allowed to properly run its course.

“The prime minister has spoken to President Trump this evening about the case and made clear that what has happened is not acceptable.

“We are continuing to press the US authorities for their cooperation to ensure the police can pursue this case unimpeded and to allow Harry’s family to get justice.

“We will use every avenue and opportunity open to us to try to right the wrong and allow the justice system follow its natural course. “

Boris Johnson vows to raise case of 19-year-old Harry Dunn with the White House if required

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, has spoken to Donald Trump, the US president, to personally ask him to “reconsider the US position” to grant immunity to Ms Sacoolas, Downing Street said.

“The prime minister urged the president to reconsider the US position so the individual involved can return to the UK, cooperate with police and allow Harry’s family to receive justice.

“The president said he was fully aware of the case and deeply saddened by what has happened, and he expressed his condolences to Harry’s parents.

“The leaders agreed to work together to find a way forward as soon as possible.”

During a press briefing at the White House, Mr Trump appeared to defend the diplomat’s wife by saying Americans driving on the other side of the road in the UK “happens”.

When asked about the young motorcyclists death, the US president 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.

“When you get used to driving on our system and then you’re all of a sudden on the other system where you’re driving – it happens. You have to be careful, very careful.

“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. It was an accident, it was a terrible accident.”

It has since emerged that Ms Sacoolas was previously handed a fine for “failure to pay full time and attention” while driving in the state of Virginia in 2006.

Northamptonshire police chief constable Nick Adderley said US authorities had been appealed to in “the strongest terms” to apply a waiver and “allow the justice process to take place” after Ms Sacoolas left the UK despite telling officers she did not plan to do so.

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