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US suspect in Harry Dunn death must agree to UK return ahead of meeting parents

UK News | Published:

The teenager was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car allegedly driven by an American intelligence official’s wife.

Harry Dunn death

The family of 19-year-old Harry Dunn has said they will only meet the US woman suspected of causing their son’s death if she promises to return to Britain.

Family spokesman Radd Seiger told Sky News the condition was a “non-negotiable red line in the sand” if Anne Sacoolas wished to meet with the teenager’s parents while they are in America.

Mr Dunn died when his motorbike crashed into a car outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27.

The suspect, 42-year-old Mrs Sacoolas, has been said by the US to be covered by diplomatic immunity as the spouse of a US intelligence official, though that protection is now in dispute.

Mr Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, flew to the US on Sunday to, as Mr Seiger said, “put pressure on the US administration to do the right thing”.

Ms Charles said before boarding her flight that she had received a letter from Mrs Sacoolas expressing her “deepest sympathies and apologies”.

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“To be perfectly honest, yes, it’s the start of some closure for our family,” she was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.

“Having said that, as it’s nearly seven weeks now since we lost our boy, sorry just doesn’t cut it”.

Earlier, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) wrote to the family to say Mrs Sacoolas did not have diplomatic immunity.

Mr Seiger said the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s letter stated: “The US have now informed us that they too consider that immunity is no longer pertinent.”

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The letter, sent by Mr Raab to the family, said: “We have pressed strongly for a waiver of immunity, so that justice can be done… Whilst the US government has steadfastly declined to give that waiver, that is not the end of the matter.

“We have looked at this very carefully… the UK Government’s position is that immunity, and therefore any question of waiver, is no longer relevant in Mrs Sacoolas’ case, because she has returned home.”

Mr Raab added that the matter was now “in the hands” of Northamptonshire Police and the CPS.

An FCO spokesman told the PA news agency that the office “would not be commenting further on the content of the letter”.

Letter
Harry Dunn’s family received a letter from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab which said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office considered Anne Sacoolas’s immunity ‘no longer pertinent’ (Family of Harry Dunn/PA)

Before the letter was sent by the FCO, the family’s lawyer Mark Stephens told PA: “There are approximately 20,000 official diplomats in this country – there’s a definitive list of who is and who isn’t.

“We know definitively that this guy was not a diplomat and therefore was not entitled to diplomatic immunity. That has a number of consequences.

“That means that the Americans have made a false claim. She would not have been entitled to claim diplomatic immunity.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Sacoolas’s legal representative Amy Jeffress, from the law firm Arnold and Porter, said: “Anne is devastated by this tragic accident.

“No loss compares to the death of a child and Anne extends her deepest sympathy to Harry Dunn’s family.”

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said America was “absolutely ruthless” in its safeguarding of Mrs Sacoolas following the decision to grant her diplomatic immunity.

Mr Johnson said although President Donald Trump was sympathetic towards Mr Dunn’s family’s views on the use of diplomatic immunity, the US was “very reluctant” to allow its citizens to be tried abroad.

Harry Dunn with his mother Charlotte Charles
Harry Dunn with his mother Charlotte Charles (Family handout/PA)

Speaking of taking their campaign to the US, Mr Dunn’s family said in a statement that they “continue to live in a nightmare” and have so far been unable to grieve after his death.

A statement released on behalf of the family said: “As if losing Harry was not enough, they now find themselves having to expend enormous time and energy, which they can ill afford, generating sufficient publicity to garner public support to persuade the US government to help achieve closure and return the driver Mrs Sacoolas to England to face the consequences of her actions.”

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