Guardian News and Media/London
The parents of Harry Dunn have given their first US TV interview, recounting the death of their son in a road accident as part of a campaign to pressure a US diplomat’s wife involved in the collision to return to the UK and face police questioning.
Anne Sacoolas, 42, left the UK shortly after the collision between Dunn’s motorbike and a car outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27. She is believed to have been driving the car and met Northamptonshire police afterwards. But no investigation followed after the force was advised by the government that she had the protective status granted to foreign diplomats.
Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, flew to the US on Sunday to “continue our fight for justice”. A family spokesman said they would only meet Sacoolas if she agreed to return to the UK.
Charles said before boarding her flight she had received a letter from Sacoolas expressing her “deepest sympathies and apologies”.
“To be perfectly honest, yes, it’s the start of some closure for our family,” she said. “Having said that, as it’s nearly seven weeks now since we lost our boy, sorry just doesn’t cut it.”
In an emotional interview with CBS News’ Gayle King, Charles and Dunn questioned why it had taken Sacoolas so long to offer to meet them and to offer her condolences and apologise for what she called in a weekend statement “the tragic accident”.
“Why has it taken so long?” Charles said. “It’s seven weeks since we lost our boy. We feel that statement should have come from her right at the beginning instead getting on a plane and running home.”
In her statement, released through her attorney, Sacoolas, 42, said she was “devastated” by the death of Harry Dunn, 19, on August 27.
“Anne would like to meet with Dunn’s parents so that she can express her deepest sympathies and apologies for this tragic accident,” the statement said.
Dunn’s parents told CBS they understood the situation was difficult for Sacoolas and she may not have had the option of remaining in the UK.
“We realise she may not have been given any choice as such under this supposed diplomatic immunity cloak – which we’re not even sure she did have,” Charles said.
Tim Dunn gave a harrowing, tearful account of arriving at the scene of the accident to find his son mortally wounded but still conscious.
“The paramedics were pulling (him) out of the grass verge and putting him on a stretcher. I could see the broken bones sticking out of his arms. He was talking. I called over and said, ‘Harry, it’s your dad. They’re gonna fix you. Be calm. Let them help you.’
“He stopped moaning because he was complaining he couldn’t breath very well. He calmed down. A couple of minutes later one of the doctors said they were going to sedate him. I told Harry this was for the best and we’d see him later in hospital. That was the last time …”
At a subsequent press conference in New York, Charles said: “All of our grief has gone on hold, it’s coming out in other horrific ways, your legs feel like lead, you’re in pain morning until night that no painkillers can take away.
“You’re not able to cry, because we can’t understand this whole situation as to why she would have left us without wanting to meet us back then.
“She needs to get on the plane and get back to the UK, just do the right thing. It shouldn’t be that difficult, it shouldn’t have been this difficult, she surely didn’t have to go.”
In her statement, Sacoolas said “no loss compares to the death of a child” and added that she “extends her deepest sympathy to Harry Dunn’s family”.
Her lawyers said she had co-operated fully with the police. “She spoke with authorities at the scene of the accident and met with the Northampton police at her home the following day. She will continue to co-operate with the investigation.
“Anne would like to meet with 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.”
Speaking to Sky News yesterday, Radd Seiger, a spokesman for the parents, said Sacoolas needed to come back to the UK, present herself to Northamptonshire police and “let the process go where it may”.
“We’re very clear there’s not much point in meeting and having pleasantries if that commitment isn’t there,” he said.
Lawyers advising Dunn’s family have disputed whether or not Sacoolas ever had a right to diplomatic immunity. The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, wrote to them on Saturday to say that Sacoolas’s immunity was now irrelevant as she had returned home.
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