- Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat, is suspected of killing 19-year-old Harry Dunn while driving on the wrong side of the road in England this August.
- She and her family claimed diplomatic immunity to flee the country shortly afterward. Dunn’s parents and the UK government have repeatedly appealed, in vain, for her return.
- Dunn’s parents met President Donald Trump on Wednesday, during which he tried to “ambush” them into meeting Sacoolas, who was waiting next door, the family said.
- The family’s spokesman also claimed that Trump had several photographers waiting nearby to capture their meeting. The White House says there was only one.
- Dunn’s parents refused to see Sacoolas, saying that they would not meet her unless it was in the UK.
- The UK has since cancelled Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity, which means that if she returned to the UK she could face prosecution.
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The family of Harry Dunn, the British teenager who was killed in a fatal car crash involving a US diplomat’s wife, said they were “ambushed” by President Donald Trump’s offer to meet their son’s suspected killer.
Dunn died in August after being in a car crash involving Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US diplomat stationed in Northamptonshire, England, at the time. Surveillance footage showed Dunn riding his motorbike while a Volvo travelled on the wrong side of the road.
Sacoolas and her family claimed diplomatic immunity to leave the UK days after the crash, despite her promising to stay to be questioned at the time.
— Lisa Dowd Sky News (@LisaSkyNews) October 14, 2019
‘The bombshell was dropped soon after we walked in the room’
Dunn’s parents traveled to the US this week to appeal for Sacoolas’ return, and were invited to meet Trump at the White House on Tuesday.
Dunn’s parents said Trump was “very graceful and spoke very well to us” during the meeting, but said they were “a little ambushed” by his offer to meet Sacoolas, who had been waiting in the next room without their knowledge, the BBC reported.
“The bombshell was dropped soon after we walked in the room: Anne Sacoolas was in the building and was willing to meet with us,” Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles, told Sky News.
Radd Seiger, the family’s spokesman, also claimed that Trump had several photographers waiting to capture Dunn’s meeting with Sacoolas.
“It was almost like: ‘Hey I’ve got someone who wants to see you,'” he said, according to MailOnline. “Then I looked to my side and I saw at least three photographers ready to do a press call.”
Marilyn Talbot, the official organizer of the Dunn’s family GoFundMe campaign, added: “It was the President’s intention for Harry’s family to meet Mrs Sacoolas in the Oval Office in front of several photographers in what [was] obviously designed to be a press call.”
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told Insider that there was one official photographer present, in line with protocol.
Dunn’s parents refused the meeting, saying that they would only meet Sacoolas in the UK. The family has repeatedly insisted on these terms.
“We didn’t want to be railroaded into, not a circus as such, but into a meeting we weren’t prepared for,” Tim Dunn, the victim’s father, said according to the BBC.
Trump “seemed to understand that that meeting needs to be with therapists and mediators in the room, and not just her and us,” Charles told Sky News.
During their meeting the president also did not suggest that he would send Sacoolas back to the UK, the parents told Sky News, and the BBC reported that a White House official told the family that she would not return.
Secret White House briefing notes photographed last week also showed that the US has no plans to send Sacoolas back.
#trumpnotes @realDonaldTrump (If Raised) Note, as @SecPompeo told Foreign Secretary @DominicRaab that the spouse of the U.S. Government employee will not return to the United Kingdom. @SkyNews pic.twitter.com/7yDUdOm3Pd
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) October 9, 2019
However, Trump said on Wednesday that he would “look at it [the case] from a different angle, and try and push it from a different angle for us,” Charles said. It’s not clear what the different angle would be.
Last week Trump appeared to defend Sacoolas by saying that she wasn’t used to driving on the other side of the road in the UK.
Sacoolas’ lawyer said in a statement, published by MailOnline on Wednesday: “Anne stayed on the scene of the accident to assist. She spoke to Harry Dunn to tell him that she would call for help,” adding that she was “terribly, terribly sorry for that tragic mistake.”
UK cancels Sacoolas’ immunity
Under the 1961 Vienna Convention, diplomats and their families are entitled to claim immunity from being tried in their host country as long as they are not nationals there as well. It was under this immunity that the Sacoolas family was allowed to leave the UK amid police investigations.
The UK had repeatedly asked the US Embassy in London to waive Anne Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity, but the US refused, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the Dunn family on Saturday, according to the BBC.
Raab on Saturday also cancelled Anne Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity, saying it “is no longer relevant … because she has returned home.” He added that the US said “they too consider that immunity is no longer pertinent.”
This means that if Sacoolas returned to the UK, she could face court proceedings and prosecution. Here are two ways in which Sacoolas could now face questioning and justice
- British authorities could apply for Sacoolas’ extradition. However, the UK Crown Prosecution Service would have to formally charge Sacoolas with a crime first. It’s also not clear if the US would allow this. The UK has also played down suggestions that it might go down this route.
- Dunn’s family could sue Sacoolas in the US for the explanation to get psychological closure, said Mark Stephens, the family’s lawyer in the UK, last week.