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Harry Dunn’s Family Say US ‘obstructing’ Inquest Into His Death

The parents of Harry Dunn, a teenage motorcyclist killed in a road collision, have accused the US of “obstructing” their son’s inquest, as they said they were looking forward to working with the next Westminster government to establish a public inquiry.

No representative of the US embassy nor the driver responsible, Anne Sacoolas, attended the four-day inquest, which concluded on Thursday, prompting the Dunn family’s spokesperson, Radd Seiger, to say Washington’s position was that “lives of UK citizens like Harry ultimately do not matter”.

Seiger told the PA news agency that Labour had promised the family a public inquiry into how Sacoolas was able to cause the 19-year-old’s death in August 2019 and leave the country after diplomatic immunity was asserted on her behalf.

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

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

Pember also issued three prevention of future death notices: two to the health secretary regarding drugs carried by paramedics and overstretched ambulance services; and one each to the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence addressing the US’s training of drivers in the UK.

Speaking outside Northampton coroner’s court, Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, reiterated her “disgust” at the decision by Sacoolas and the US embassy not to attend the inquest, saying it was “disrespectful” to her son.

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, who at the time of the crash was the wife of a US diplomat stationed at the airbase, fled to the US after the incident and claimed diplomatic immunity. She was sentenced via video link in December 2022 to eight months in prison, suspended for a year, for causing death by careless driving.

Addressing the US government’s conduct, Seiger told PA: “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.

“As we have all seen this week, their attitude and approach to keeping their British hosts safe has been laid 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. This Tory government have refused to get involved.

“Labour have promised us a public inquiry into the way we were treated and the failure on the part of both governments over the decades to address the issue of safety, which has led to thousands of people being killed and seriously injured.”

The inquest was told Saccolas, who supplied two new statements to the coroner, currently worked as an analyst for the US state department.

In one of the witness statements, Sacoolas apologised for the “tragic mistake” , saying she would live with it “every single day for the rest of my life”.

Sacoolas said she was not aware she was on the wrong side of the road “until after the collision”, having “instinctively moved to the right side of the road”.

After the crash, she “hysterically flagged down a motorist” and “begged her to get help”, the statement said.

The proceedings were delayed twice this week because of talks over whether she would attend the hearing.

Seiger added: “The UK government have also now seen how the US government treats our courts and judges.

“The question for the next British government is – are they just going to stand by and let the Americans continue to treat us all and our lives with such contempt?

“The US ambassador at the time of Harry’s death was Woody Johnson. He told the UK government after he [Dunn] 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.

“We won’t let them get away with it and we look forward to working with the next government to establish this public inquiry.”

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