News Update

First lady Jill Biden and the Duchess of Cambridge visit classroom in Cornwall

Harry Dunn
Harry Dunn Family Handout

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that US President Joe Biden expressed a “great deal of sympathy” over the case of Harry Dunn, a British teenager who died after being hit by a car driven by a US diplomat’s wife.

Anne Sacoolas, the driver, claimed diplomatic immunity and left the UK after the crash outside RAF Croughton, a central England military base controlled by the US Air Force.

Britain’s attempt to extradite Sacoolas to face charges of causing death by dangerous driving was declined by US authorities, and the incident has sparked an ongoing diplomatic spat between the two countries.

In a statement to CNN, a Downing Street spokesperson said the “tragic” issue was raised with Biden and said Johnson “reiterated” that the UK “wants to see justice for the family.” 

“He has his own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue,” Johnson told the BBC. Biden’s first wife and an infant daughter were killed in a car crash in 1972.

“He was extremely sympathetic, but this is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on,” Johnson added.

Last year, the UK and US agreed to revise an “anomaly” that allowed Sacoolas, the wife of a former US diplomat, to leave Britain. Under the terms of the revised agreement, family members of staff based at RAF Croughton will no longer be given immunity from criminal jurisdiction and will face criminal prosecution where applicable.

In a statement, Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said Thursday that they were “incredibly grateful” that the case was being taken “so seriously as to be raised on the eve of the G7 meeting.”

“We very much hope that President Biden takes a different view to the previous administration given his deeply personal connection to the case having suffered loss in similar circumstances,” the statement from the family’s lawyer Radd Seiger said. 

The White House declined to comment on the conversation, but a spokesperson for the National Security Council told CNN, “We again offer our sincere condolences and sympathy to the Dunn family for the loss of their son. This was a tragic accident. The United States has remained closely engaged with the UK government, and we have been transparent about our positions on legal and diplomatic matters concerning this accident.”

Some more context: Former President Trump once tried to intervene in Dunn’s case, even meeting with his parents at the White House in October 2019. Dunn’s parents were caught off guard when Trump told them Anne Sacoolas was in room next door. Dunn’s parents rejected Trump’s offer to meet with her.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Zahid Mahmood contributed reporting to this post.

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