September 20, 2021

Harry Dunn’s parents fly to the US to put pressure on the White House to ‘do the right thing’


Harry Dunn (pictured) died when his motorbike crashed into a car outside an RAF base on August 27

Harry Dunn’s mother has said ‘sorry just doesn’t cut it’ as the grieving parents fly to the US to put pressure on the White House to ‘do the right thing.’

Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn are departing to New York after the Foreign Office said US intelligence official’s wife, Anne Sacoolas, does not have diplomatic immunity.

Mrs Sacoolas said she wants to meet the grieving parents after the incident in which Mr Dunn died when his motorbike crashed into a Volvo allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road, outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27.

But, on her departure from the UK, Ms Charles told Sky News:  ‘My opinion on Anne Sacoolas now wanting to come forward and say sorry – to be perfectly honest, yes it’s the start of some closure for our family.

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

‘That’s not really quite enough. But I’m still really open to meeting her, as are the rest of us. I can’t promise what I would or wouldn’t say, but I certainly wouldn’t be aggressive.’

It comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel has played down suggestions that Anne Sacoolas could be extradited from the United States over the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn in a road accident. 

Asked on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show whether Ms Sacoolas could now be extradited to the UK, Ms Patel said: ‘The Foreign Secretary has been working with his American counterpart, he has been in touch with the US administration on this.

A letter from Dominic Raab says the question of Sacoolas’s diplomatic immunity is ‘no longer relevant’

 Harry, right, and Niall, aged three. Niall has taken news of his brother’s death particularly hard as the two were ‘extremely close’

‘It very much seems that the lady in question wants to start co-operating with the discussions and the investigations and I think that we should support that.

‘We need to ensure that justice is done but obviously that co-operation with this investigation takes place. That is absolutely right.’

The family’s spokesman Radd Seiger said the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has written to Mr Dunn’s family about Mrs Sacoolas, saying: ‘The US have now informed us that they too consider that immunity is no longer pertinent.’

‘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,’ the BBC quoted Mr Raab’s letter saying.

‘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.’ 

The devastated family have not been able to grieve since the crash, and Mr Dunn’s non-identical twin brother Niall has taken the news the hardest, as the teenagers were ‘extremely close.’

Harry’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told The Sunday Times:  ‘It’s really hard, extra hard, for Niall , he is not a talker — he tends to bottle things up quite a lot — but we know he’s feeling it.

‘They were chalk and cheese. Harry would be out there riding his motorbike all the time but Niall loved being at home.

The 19-year-old victim’s parents, Charlotte Charles (pictured) and Tim Dunn, have now decided to take their fight to the US

‘He’s shut in the other room at the moment but he keeps up with everything on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and all those. We keep in touch with him every hour to check on him but we don’t give him information unless he asks for it.

‘He absolutely wants Sacoolas to come back to the UK and face justice. He really does want that to happen. He feels the same as us. He just doesn’t understand why she’s been allowed to walk away.’

Mr Dunn’s parents Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn have said they would be flying to New York where they will give interviews for television shows, and then later go to Washington to meet politicians.

Harry’s heartbroken mother added her son ‘would have loved’ to explore New York.

She said:  ‘My husband is a US citizen so we’ve flown into New York many times and driven to visit family living on the coast, but we have actually never slept there.

‘We are going to be now. We wish it was in different circumstances.’

The suspect, 42-year-old Anne Sacoolas (pictured) – who is reportedly married to a US intelligence official, was granted diplomatic immunity following the crash

Meanwhile Mrs Sacoolas’ legal representative Amy Jeffress, from the law firm Arnold and Porter, last night 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.’ 

The ‘excellent news’ according to Mr Dunn comes at the same time as legal discussions have opened between the two parties.  

Radd Seiger, who is representing Mr Dunn’s family, told ITV News he had spoken to Mrs Sacoolas’ legal team ‘very briefly’ over the phone after arriving in the US on Saturday.

He said: ‘We have agreed to meet each other at the earliest possibility as soon as we can co-ordinate our diaries.’

It is the first contact between both parties since Mrs Sacoolas left the UK.

Mrs Sacoolas’ lawyer said: ‘Anne would like to meet with Mr Dunn’s parents so that she can express her deepest sympathies and apologies for this tragic accident.

‘We have been in contact with the family’s attorneys and look forward to hearing from them.’

The lawyer said Mrs Sacoolas spoke with ‘authorities’ at the scene of the crash and met Northampton police at her home the following day.

‘She will continue to cooperate with the investigation,’ the lawyer said.

He also told Sky News it was a ‘positive step forward’, saying: ‘It’s a great sign (Mrs Sacoolas’ lawyer has) reached out to us and we will be engaging in embracing those discussions as openly and as positively as we always do.’

It is understood to be the first contact between the two parties since Sacoolas left the UK after she was granted diplomatic immunity following the crash. 

It raises hopes that a major row between the US and UK governments could be avoided. 

The victim’s parents have also decided to take their fight to the US.  

Spokesman Radd Seiger (centre) said he has had a brief phone conversation with Sacoolas’s lawyers

How the diplomatic row unfolded 

August 27: Harry Dunn, 19, was killed as he rode his motorbike near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire. Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat, reportedly hit him with her Volvo while driving on the wrong side of the road.

August 28: Police speak with Sacoolas but she is granted diplomatic immunity

August 28: September 16: Sacoolas leaves the country for the US

October 4: Harry’s parents call on President Trump to intervene and return Sacoolas to the UK

October 9: Boris Johnson says he will speak to Trump to ask for Sacoolas’s return and rescind diplomatic immunity

October 9: Trump defends Sacoolas, saying it’s difficult to drive on the correct side of the road in the UK

October 12: Lawyers from both sides make contact for the first time 

They said they will visit both New York and Washington DC to gain support from Americans and ‘put pressure on the US administration to do the right thing’. 

On Friday, the Prime Minister said America is ‘absolutely ruthless’ in its safeguarding of Mrs Sacoolas following the decision to grant her immunity.

Boris Johnson said although President Trump was sympathetic towards Harry’s family’s views on the use of diplomatic immunity, the US are ‘very reluctant’ to allow citizens to be tried abroad.

Speaking of taking their campaign to the US, Harry’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.

‘If it had been done sooner it would have saved a life’: Signs reminding motorists to ‘drive on the left’ appear on the road where Harry Dunn, 19, was ‘killed by US diplomat’s wife’

    New road signs and markings have appeared outside the RAF base where teenager Harry Dunn was killed after being hit by a car driving on the wrong side of the road.

    Arrows indicating the direction of travel have been painted on both sides of the road as well as a ‘please drive on left’ sign. 

    The markings have appeared by the RAF Croughton base in Northamptonshire where Harry Dunn was knocked down on his motorbike in August.

    New road signs and markings have appeared outside the RAF base where teenager Harry Dunn was killed

    Some local residents said it was ‘unbelievable’ drivers had to be reminded which lane to travel in, while others said the signs had come too late. 

    Ian Parkes said on Facebook: ‘Just a simple thing that had it been done sooner could have saved a life. It is so tragic and not the first time it’s happened outside a US base.’

    Another local said: ‘It’s unbelievable, the idea that top intelligence officers can’t remember which side to drive on.’ 

    The car which crashed into Harry was allegedly driven by the wife of a US diplomat, Anne Sacoolas and police said they had CCTV footage of her driving on the wrong side of the road.

    After the crash, she returned to the US and claimed diplomatic immunity meaning she would not be able to be prosecuted in the UK.  

    Team Harry: The PR and legal machine fighting for justice in US 

    The parents of Harry Dunn arrive in America this weekend to kick start a high-profile public relations drive which they hope will result in Anne Sacoolas returning to Britain.

    On Monday, Charlotte and Tim Dunn will be interviewed by America’s biggest television broadcasters; NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox. They are also hoping to meet with President Donald Trump while appointments have already been confirmed with a number of leading politicians in the country.

    The couple have assembled a formidable team in their quest to secure justice for their son. It is led by Radd Seiger, a lawyer and former partner with Kennedys law firm in London. He was also head of insurance dispute resolution at defunct construction firm Corillian. He lives in Brackley, Northamptonshire and is a neighbour of the Dunn family who knew Harry well. He became involved in the case soon after his death and also acts as spokesman for the family.

    Mr Seiger arrives in Washington tomorrow, ahead of Charlotte and Tim to meet with lawyers they are hoping to appoint so that a civil case can be started against Ms Sacoolas. He will then spend the remainder of the week with them attending briefings with the media and politicians.

    As the profile of Harry’s case increased over the past week, the team has been bolstered by legal heavyweights Geoffrey Robertson QC, who has represented Salman Rushdie, Mike Tyson and Julian Assange. Also on board is Mark Stephens, from Howard Kennedy LLP, who has also worked for Julian Assange and defended James Hewitt over his affair with Princess Diana. Both men are specialists in the area of diplomatic law and came on board following approaches by Mr Seiger.

    Mr Stephens has prepared a detailed dossier for Mr Seiger and the Dunns for their trip to America and also recommended the lawyers they should appoint over there, although he is not willing to name them as yet.

    The Dunn family’s American PR drive is being orchestrated by Jane Eggleton, a crowd funding media specialist who works as a consultant with the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe. She runs her own company called Eggleton Communications and has worked on a number of high-profile campaigns such as the Jo Cox Fund.

    Ms Eggleton will continue to be involved in the campaign once the Dunns return from America. She became involved in the case because of Harry’s GoFundMe page, which has become the website’s most widely viewed page.

    Despite the large number of readers it has attracted, to date, it has only generated just over £30,000 and has a target of £75,000. The question remains however, if that will be enough to cover the costs of the campaign given the big hitters that have become part of it?  

    The costs of travelling to America will be met through the funds that have been raised. Mr Seiger is not receiving any payment for his extensive work for the Dunns while Ms Eggleton is not charging for her services either.

    GoFundMe told MailOnline: ‘Harry’s page has been one of the top trending Gofundme campaigns this week. ‘Yes, we’ve been supporting the family a little, it’s a totally free service we offer to campaign organisers.’

    While it has not been established how much Mr Stephens and Mr Robertson will charge, if anything at all, both are top of their profession and leading lawyers can cost anything between £500 to £1,000 per hour.

    Mr Stephens told MailOnline: ‘We have not discussed cost as yet with the Dunns. We will sit down with them and have that conversation once they return from America.’

    As lawyers in America have yet to be appointed, it is also not clear how much they will charge.

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