Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Harry Dunn: Lawyer accuses foreign secretary of ‘scandalous attempted cover up’, as family to receive disclosure documents

Parents of teenage motorcyclist seeking judicial review into Foreign Office’s handling of his death

Chiara Giordano
Saturday 02 May 2020 19:09 BST
Comments
Moment Harry Dunn's parents find out US diplomat's wife Anne Sacoolas is charged

The lawyer representing Harry Dunn’s family has accused the foreign secretary of a “scandalous attempted cover up of the truth” over the 19-year-old's death.

The teenager died in August last year after his motorbike crashed into the car of Anne Sacoolas outside RAF Croughton, a US military base in Northamptonshire.

Ms Sacoolas, whose husband is a US intelligence official stationed at the base, claimed diplomatic immunity following the crash and returned to the US about three weeks later.

The 42-year-old, who was allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road at the time of the collision, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving after leaving the country, however the US has refused to extradite her to the UK.

Mr Dunn’s family is now seeking a judicial review into the Foreign Office’s handling of their son’s death.

Disclosure documents last month revealed a senior diplomat at the Foreign Office sent a text message to their US Embassy counterpart saying they should “feel able” to put Ms Sacoolas on the next flight home.

Initial disclosure documents also showed a briefing note copied to foreign secretary Dominic Raab’s private secretary from three days after the fatal crash – which revealed concern for some “very unpalatable headlines”.

A witness statement from the senior investigating officer at Northamptonshire Police said an official at the Foreign Office had requested the force delay telling the Mr Dunn’s family that a waiver for Ms Sacoolas’s diplomatic immunity had been declined by the US – adding that it would help if they could get their “ducks in a row” beforehand.

Radd Seiger, representing the Dunn family, on Saturday accused Mr Raab of a “cover up” and claimed the foreign office was in breach of a court order by failing to hand over disclosure of documents for their judicial review claim by 4pm on Friday.

The family of Harry Dunn (left to right) mother Charlotte Charles, stepfather Bruce Charles, family spokesman Radd Seiger, father Tim Dunn and stepmother Tracey Dunn outside the Ministry Of Justice in London after meeting with the Director of Public Prosecutions. (David Mirzoeff/PA)

Mr Seiger said: “Harry’s parents continue to suffer extreme emotional and psychological hardship. Time is therefore of the essence.

“Every passing hour, let alone day, increases the danger for them and I have made that clear to Mr Raab consistently throughout.

“But frankly, his conduct in the judicial review has been nothing short of disgraceful.

“His whole attitude throughout the case so far has been of a school yard bully, making threats to the parents of bankruptcy if they brought the case at all and attempting to harass them at every step along the way refusing to give them the information they are entitled to.”

He added: “He has hired four top barristers to run the case for him and there are numerous lawyers in the government legal department behind him too.

“Between them all, all they have managed to do so far is to conspire with him to engage in a scandalous attempted cover up of the truth, when the very opposite should be happening.

“It has been like trying to extract hen’s teeth.”

The Foreign Office has strongly refuted the claim that there was a court order or deadline.

A spokesperson said in response: “We have deep sympathy for Harry’s family. We have done and will continue to do everything we properly can to ensure that justice is done.

“We are responding to legal action in the judicial review in the normal way and have responded to all the court requirements in full.”

The Independent understands the disclosure of documents is expected to be handed over to the family in the course of next week.

Mr Seiger also called on the Foreign Office to demand the return of Ms Sacoolas, who is alleged to have been a more senior spy than her husband and to have worked for the CIA.

Mr Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, wrote to Donald Trump last week asking him to review a decision to block an extradition request for their son’s alleged killer.

In response, the US State Department reiterated its position that at the time of the accident, and for the duration of her time in the UK, the driver had immunity from criminal jurisdiction.

However Ms Charles said she was optimistic about receiving a “personal response” from the US president and secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in