Harry Dunn death: Parents decline White House meeting with Anne Sacoolas

15 October 2019, 16:50 | Updated: 16 October 2019, 01:51

The parents of Harry Dunn have refused a White House meeting with Anne Sacoolas, the US driver involved in their son's fatal road crash.

Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles were at the White House to meet President Trump, when it emerged that Mrs Sacoolas was also there.

They told reporters they had declined the offer to meet, because in the absence of counsellors or mediators it would not have been appropriate.

President Trump told the couple that their case was compelling, but Mrs Sacoolas would remain in the US.

Following the meeting with the president they told Sky News that Mr Trump had been sympathetic and respectful and that he would look at the case again, but reiterated that the US position remained unchanged and Mrs Sacoolas would not return to the UK.

Harry, 19, died when his motorbike collided with a car outside an RAF base in Northamptonshire in August.

Mrs Sacoolas returned to America after being granted diplomatic immunity because of her husband's work.

Ahead of the White House meeting, Mr Dunn told Sky News: "I'm just still shocked that we got this invitation so quick, out of the blue we are talking to you guys then we are coming to Washington.

"Hopefully it's good news that she's [Ms Sacoolas] coming back to the UK and the government has said this is the way to go."

He added: "We came to America to get our point across and Anne back to the UK. If are going to the White House, surely this is a good step forward."

Harry's mother, Charlotte Charles, said she was "really pleased" about the White House meeting but doesn't want to get her hopes up.

"We are keeping our fingers crossed that we're not going to go and have a 'there-there' pat on the back, but of course I'm pleased," she told Sky News.

"I just don't know what to expect and we keep our fingers crossed that it's not just an invitation to have a general chat.

"We got hopeful when we got the invite to see Dominic Raab, but we don't want to get our hopes up too much."

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Mr Dunn called on President Trump to help secure justice for his son.

He said: "On that night there was an accident, a lady made a mistake, she killed our son, she didn't mean to kill him, she didn't mean to have an accident, but you cannot walk away from that and just leave and expect nothing to happen.

"Our boy died and he deserves to have some justice. That's all we want.

"I would say to him (President Trump) as a man, as a father, how could you let this happen, if you are a father and your child died surely you'd want that person to own up and take responsibility for their action?"

Harry's mother said all the family wanted was for Ms Sacoolas to return to the UK to face justice, saying it was "the right thing to do".

The Foreign Office previously said she no longer has diplomatic immunity because she had returned home, meaning the case could be taken forward by Northamptonshire Police.

Ms Sacoolas, 42, said in a statement from her lawyers that she is "devastated", though her whereabouts are uncertain.

Earlier on Tuesday, police said they had visited the scene where Harry was killed and that prosecutors would receive a file on the case "very soon".

Police have said they were not given advance warning that Ms Sacoolas was leaving the country three weeks after the crash.

A source close to the diplomat's wife said on Monday that Ms Sacoolas had stayed at the scene after the collision and spoke to Harry to tell him she would call for help.

Ms Sacoolas was also said to have waved down another car which pulled over, allowing her to return to comfort her young children in her own car.

Radd Seiger, a spokesman and adviser to Harry's family, said: "The only proper way [for Ms Sacoolas] to conduct herself is to return to the UK to face the music and to pass any information that she has to the police so that they may further their enquiries into the circumstances of the collision."

Harry's family have called on the Foreign Office to release all documents relating to its advice to Northamptonshire Police regarding the diplomatic immunity Ms Sacoolas was granted.

Mr Seiger said: "What we don't know is whether somebody cocked up or whether they were put under pressure by the Americans to concede.

"But we want to conduct an investigation into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's decision to advise Northamptonshire Police that this lady had the benefit of diplomatic immunity.

"If we're not satisfied, then we'll go to a judicial review and ask a High Court judge to review it all."