Sunday 20 October 2019

'It happens' - Trump says diplomat's wife won't return to the UK over fatal crash

Campaign: Harry Dunn's grieving mother Charlotte Charles
Campaign: Harry Dunn's grieving mother Charlotte Charles

Jennifer Hassan

US President Donald Trump has said a British teenager killed in a crash allegedly caused by the wife of a US diplomat was the victim of a "terrible accident", adding driving on the wrong side of the road "happens".

He made the remarks at a news conference to which he carried briefing notes saying the woman, who left the country after the crash, would not return to Britain, as UK authorities have requested.

British police say 19-year-old Harry Dunn was killed by 42-year-old suspect Anne Sacoolas when her Volvo SUV struck his motorcycle in August.

Surveillance video indicates Ms Sacoolas, who is American, was driving "on the wrong side of the road" on the night of the fatal crash, police said.

British media reported she had recently arrived in the country, leading to a theory she may have been unaccustomed to driving on the left.

Following the fatal crash, Ms Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity under international law, allowing her to avoid prosecution and return to the US - despite telling officials she had no plans to do so.

"The woman was driving on the wrong side of the road and that can happen, you know," Mr Trump said.

"Those are the opposite roads. That happens. I won't say it ever happened to me, but it did. So a young man was killed.

"The person that was driving the automobile has diplomatic immunity.

"We're going to speak to her very shortly and see if we can do something where they meet."

Mr Dunn's parents have frequently expressed hope that Mr Trump would consider waiving diplomatic immunity so Ms Sacoolas could be held accountable in a British court.

However, the US Embassy noted in a statement that "immunity is rarely waived".

Despite Mr Trump's suggestion that a meeting between Ms Sacoolas and Mr Dunn's grieving parents might be possible, 'Washington Post' photographer Jabin Botsford captured a shot at the news conference of Mr Trump's National Security Council briefing notes, labelled "secret", that appeared to contradict that idea.

One note read: "[If raised] note, as Secretary Pompeo told Foreign Secretary [Dominic] Raab, that the spouse of the US Government employee will not return to the United Kingdom."

Since Harry Dunn's death, his parents Tim Dunn and Charlotte Charles have campaigned for justice.

After meeting Mr Raab, the British foreign secretary, the parents said they were "no further forward" and told Sky News they were "disgusted". They said they felt they had been "extremely let down" by both the British and US governments.

Irish Independent

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