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Joe Biden ‘personally trying to move things along’ in Harry Dunn case

·4 min read

Boris Johnson has said Joe Biden has been “personally trying to move things along” in the case of US citizen Anne Sacoolas who is charged with causing the death of British motorcyclist Harry Dunn by dangerous driving.

During his first visit to the White House as Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said: “I know that the president has been personally trying to move things along, and I’m grateful for that”.

The two leaders met on the day the parents of 19-year-old Harry, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, reached a “resolution” in their civil claim in the US against Ms Sacoolas for damages.

Sat next to Mr Johnson in the Oval Office, the US president told reporters: “That case is being worked on.

Boris Johnson visit to US
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets US President Joe Biden (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“I was under the impression there had been a civil settlement reached, but I don’t know that. Based on what I’ve been told it was not an intentional act.

“It was someone who’s new… driving down the wrong side of the road, quote unquote.

“But I will follow up on that.”

Harry’s mother had previously expressed hope that Mr Biden would be sympathetic to her family’s plight due to his personal connection to such a case.

Mr Biden lost his wife and daughter in a road collision in 1972 – while his sons Beau and Hunter survived.

The Prime Minister also described the US leader as “extremely sympathetic” with the Dunn case following their meeting in Cornwall for the G7 earlier this year.

Radd Seiger, the spokesman for Ms Charles and Harry’s father Tim Dunn, told the PA news agency earlier on Tuesday that an agreement had been “reached successfully between the parties and they can put this part of the campaign behind them”.

Sacoolas, who is charged with causing 19-year-old Mr Dunn’s death by dangerous driving, was due to give evidence under oath last month as part of the damages claim until a last-minute postponement.

The 44-year-old was able to leave the UK following the fatal road crash outside RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on August 27 2019, after diplomatic immunity was asserted on her behalf by the US Government.

Harry Dunn death
Harry Dunn was killed in a road crash in August 2019 (Family handout/PA)

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has also told reporters an agreement in the damages claim was “absolutely not” the end of the matter.

Speaking on the train to Washington where she will meet with Joe Biden, Mrs Truss was asked if the resolution of a civil case in the UK was the end of the road for the British effort for Sacoolas’s return.

“Absolutely not. We continue to press for justice for Harry,” she said.

The details of the agreement have not been disclosed, but Mr Seiger said a resolution in the civil claim means Mr Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, will now turn their focus to the pending criminal case.

He told PA: “It has come as some considerable relief to them that a resolution to the civil claim has been now been reached successfully between the parties and they can put this part of the campaign behind them.

“It is never easy mounting a legal battle for justice abroad, let alone in the US, but the family’s courage and determination to see this through has been incredible.

“They have been supported throughout the claim by (former foreign secretary) Dominic Raab and his excellent officials at the FCDO and we are very grateful to them for all their help.

“We have been made aware that the US Government made no secret of their displeasure at the British Government’s backing of Harry’s family in bringing the claim.”

Mrs Truss said she had raised the case of Mr Dunn with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Boris Johnson visit to US
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said a resolution in the civil claim was “absolutely not” the end of the matter (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Having taken over the Foreign Secretary role in the Cabinet reshuffle last week, she told reporters on the Amtrak train to Washington DC she would take a “hard-headed” approach on the world stage.

“I’ve also spoken with Harry Dunn’s mother and I’ve raised that issue with the US Secretary of State as well,” she said.

“Harry must get the justice he deserves.”

The damages claim, brought against Sacoolas and her husband Jonathan, unearthed a great deal of previously unheard material, such as the State Department roles held by the couple at the time of the crash.

Alexandria District Court in the US state of Virginia heard the pair’s work in intelligence was a “factor” in their departure from the UK, as they left for “security reasons”.

Mr Seiger said: “The family feel they can now turn their attention to the criminal case and the long-awaited inquest into Harry’s death which will follow the criminal case.

“There will also need to be a parliamentary inquiry into this scandal in due course.

“Harry’s family will never be able to move on from his loss, but they are more determined than ever to continue to move forward.”

Lawyers acting on behalf of Sacoolas have been approached for comment.

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