Harry Dunn's family accuses US government of 'obstructing' inquest into son's death and of 'not caring about UK lives'

Harry Dunn and his mother

The family of Harry Dunn have accused the US government of "obstructing" their son’s inquest

PA
Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler


Published: 13/06/2024

- 22:47

The US State Department asserted diplomatic immunity on behalf of the driver and she was able to leave the UK

The family of Harry Dunn have accused the US government of "obstructing" their son’s inquest after both representatives of the US embassy and driver Anne Sacoolas were absent from the four-day inquest.

Sacoolas said in a witness statement that the crash which killed the teenage motorcyclist in August 2019 is something that will live with her "every single day for the rest of my life".


The US State Department asserted diplomatic immunity on behalf of Sacoolas and she was able to leave the UK 19 days after the fatal collision.

Northamptonshire coroner Anne Pember criticised the US government over a lack of training for diplomatic personnel at RAF Croughton before Dunn’s death.

Harry DunnAnne Sacoolas, a US Government employee, has apologised for the “tragic mistake” which killed teenager Harry DunnPA

The inquest heard that when asked what she believed had caused the collision, she told Northamptonshire Police officers: "I drove like an American and drove on the American side of the road."

Coroner Pember, recorded his death as being as a result of “injuries sustained during a head-on collision” with a car on the wrong side of the road.

She also issued three prevention of future death notices: two to the Health Secretary regarding drugs carried by paramedics and overstretched ambulance services, and one to the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence addressing the US’s training of drivers in the UK.

Speaking outside the court, Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, reiterated her "disgust" at Sacoolas’s and the US Embassy’s decision not to attend the inquest – labelling it "disrespectful" to her son.

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She told reporters: "It further bolsters my opinion that they have no regard for myself or my family, our wider family – they just don’t care."

Sacoolas appeared before a High Court judge at the Old Bailey via video-link in December 2022, where she pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

She was advised against attending her sentencing hearing by her employer, which prompted the family to say they were "horrified" that the US government was "actively interfering in our criminal justice system".

Addressing the US government’s role prior to Harry’s death, spokesman Radd Seiger said: "It was not enough for them to kill Harry. It wasn’t enough for them to then kick Harry’s family in their darkest hour and seek to deny and delay the justice that they were entitled to.

Court artist drawing by Elizabeth Cook of US citizen Anne Sacoolas

Court artist drawing by Elizabeth Cook of US citizen Anne Sacoolas, 45, (right in TV screen), making an appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court via video-link from the United States

PA

"As we have all seen this week their attitude and approach to keeping their British hosts safe has been laid to bare and they have positively obstructed the Coroner’s inquiry and deprived the family of the answers they were entitled to as to why no-one has ever addressed the issue of safety of UK citizens.

"The next question is why have the UK governments over the years been happy to sit on the sidelines watching this scandal unfold."

He added: "The US ambassador at the time of Harry’s death was Woody Johnson. He told the UK government after he died that there were far more important things than Harry’s life.

"That is the American government’s position. The lives of UK citizens like Harry ultimately do not matter."

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