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Foreign policy Harry Dunn's parents vow to continue fight for justice after meeting Trump
Couple say Trump shocked them by revealing woman involved in son’s death, Anne Sacoolas, was nearby
The parents of Harry Dunn have vowed to continue their fight for justice following a White House meeting with Donald Trump where they were told the US woman allegedly responsible for their son’s death would not return to the UK.
Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US intelligence officer, fled the UK after 19-year-old Dunn was killed in a road collision. Dunn died near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire on 27 August.
A few days into their US tour to raise awareness of their campaign, the family were invited to meet Trump at the White House.
Tim Dunn, Harry’s father, said: “[Trump] said he was sorry about Harry and then he sprung the surprise that Mrs Sacoolas was in another room in the building and whether we’d want to meet her there and then.”
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that they turned down Trump’s offer to meet Sacoolas: “We said no because as we’ve been saying from the start, we want to meet Ann S but we want to do it in the UK so the police can interview her. We didn’t want to be sort of railroaded into, not a circus as such, but into a meeting that we weren’t prepared for.”
The Foreign Office doubts 42-year-old Sacoolas will return to the UK to answer questions about her role in the crash. Dunn said that while Trump did not make a commitment either way, his adviser said Sacoolas would not be returning to the UK.
Sacoolas has previously said she was “terribly sorry” about the incident and had “no time to react” when she saw Dunn’s motorbike.
“To me he [Trump] seemed to really listen and he was surprised Harry was a twin. He didn’t realise he had a twin brother so he expressed he must be feeling the pain a lot more and to be fair to my ex-wife she didn’t let him stop her, she just kept talking and talking and talking. She got her point across very well and he actually listened and he was quite sincere at the end,” Dunn said.
The family, who met the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, in the UK last week, have also demanded an investigation into the Foreign Office’s (FCO) advice to Northamptonshire police that Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity. They are demanding to see all emails, messages and notes sent in relation to her status.
Dunn added: “At the end, the president did say to Charlotte that she spoke to him quite well and explained to him how would he feel if it was his son, would he do the same? And he said, yes I would be doing the same, and as we were leaving he said perhaps there’s another way I can look into this.”
Mark Stephens, a British lawyer advising the Dunn family, disclosed that Robert O’Brien, Trump’s national security adviser was in the room and said that Sacoolas was never going to return to the UK. The press had also been primed to enter the room.
He said the family had not been told prior to arriving at the White House that they would be meeting Trump, O’Brien or that Sacoolas would be waiting in the adjacent room.
O’Brien’s presence appears to underscore the reports that Jonathan Sacoolas, Anne’s husband, worked for the CIA, and was not an ordinary diplomat. “My suspicion is that this is being run by the National Security Agency,” he said.
He added “we always said that any meeting between Sacoolas and the family had to be properly prepared with counsellors present, and not to be a set-up curated by politicians for the media”.
He said if Sacoolas will not return to the UK the family will continue to examine the option of a judicial review of the Foreign Office decision making, or a civil claim in the US courts against Sacoolas.
He added the only optimism to emerge from the meeting was a promise by Trump to see if the issue could be addressed another way.
Another family spokesman said: “It struck us that this meeting was hastily arranged by nincompoops on the run and in particular O’Brien who appeared to be extremely uptight and aggressive and did not come across at all well at a meeting which required sensitivity.”
- Foreign policy
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