Trump defends diplomat's wife involved in car crash that killed British teenager: 'It happens'

Comments come as president turns down Boris Johnson request to waive diplomatic immunity 

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 09 October 2019 17:40 BST
Donald Trump defends US diplomat's wife who killed teenage Briton Harry Dunn in crash

Donald Trump has defended the wife of a US diplomat accused of killing a British teenager in a road accident, suggesting it is difficult to drive on the other side of the road and that “it happens”.

Speaking at the White House after a conversation with prime minister Boris Johnson, during which he apparently rejected a request to consider waiving the woman’s diplomatic immunity and her returning to Britain to face the police, the president said he wanted to try and bring about “healing”.

Mr Trump said the US would shortly be speaking to the woman, and that there were many Americans who sympathised with the plight of teenager’s parents, who he said was killed in a “terrible accident”.

Yet he also appeared to back the diplomat’s wife, Anne Sacoolas, saying that it could be difficult “driving on the opposite side of the road”.

“The woman was driving on the wrong side of the road. That can happen,” he said. “Those are the opposite side of the road. I won’t say it ever happened to me, but it but it did.”

He added: “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. It happens. You have to be careful.”

Mr Trump comments came after a call on Wednesday with Mr Johnson to discuss the case of the diplomat, who left the country after being involved in an accident close to RAF Croughton, a British military base used by the US Air Force. The teenager had been on a motorcycle.

The young man’s parents, who recently met with British foreign secretary Dominic Raab, have said they plan to start civil action against Ms Sacoolas.

Mr Trump did not specify what he intended to do try and help the family of the British teenager, but said officials would speak to the woman and “see what we can come up with”.

He said the confusion was understandable but “two wonderful parents have lost their son”.

In a statement issued by Downing Street, a spokesman confirmed the two leaders had discussed “the tragic death of Harry Dunn”.

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

“The prime minister urged the president to reconsider the US position so the individual involved can return to the UK, co-operate 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.”

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

Speaking after the meeting, the 19-year-old’s mother told reporters she felt “let down by both governments”.

Ms Charles said: “I can’t really see the point as to why we were invited to see Dominic Raab. We are no further forward than where we were this time last week.

“Part of me is feeling like it was just a publicity stunt on the UK Government side to show they are trying to help.” Mr Raab said he shared the “frustration“ felt by the family and vowed to continue to ”press the US authorities“ into co-operating with the UK investigation.

“I share the frustration of Harry’s mother and father,” said Mr Raab. “They have lost their son and the justice process is not being allowed to properly run its course.”

The family’s lawyer and spokesman Radd Seiger, said the family would be willing to talk with Mr Trump about the issue and confirmed they plan to travel to the US.

“Meet us. Let’s have a chat. Nobody wants to litigate,” he said.

Mr Seiger said they were engaging lawyers to take a civil case against Mrs Sacoolas in America.

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

“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.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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