Labour queries disgraced ex-minister’s involvement in Harry Dunn killer’s diplomatic immunity

Politics

Labour has asked the government whether disgraced former minister Chris Pincher made any attempts to stop American Anne Sacoolas going to the US after she killed Harry Dunn in a road accident.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy has written to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly about the “series of failures” in the Foreign Office after Sacoolas was allowed to leave the UK and given diplomatic immunity following the 2019 incident.

Last week, the American former spy was handed a suspended eight-month prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving after she crashed into motorcyclist Mr Dunn, 19, while driving on the wrong side of the road outside a US military base in Northamptonshire, where her husband worked.

The case led to a transatlantic row between the US and UK governments after the US administration asserted diplomatic immunity on her, allowing her to leave the UK 19 days later. She has never returned.

Mr Lammy has asked the foreign secretary to reveal the extent of the involvement of Chris Pincher, who was Minister for Europe and the Americas at the time, in liaising with US diplomatic authorities when Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity handed to her.

Mr Pincher was a Conservative MP then, but is now an independent after he had the whip removed when he was accused earlier this year of groping two men when he was drunk – which ultimately led to Boris Johnson’s resignation.

Mr Lammy has also called on the government to publish details of Mr Pincher’s correspondence with the US about Sacoolas’ immunity.

More on Anne Sacoolas

And he asked Mr Cleverly if Mr Pincher or Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who was foreign secretary at the time, provided “any objection at all” to the US removing Sacoolas from the UK.

He said the US authorities informed the Foreign Office in September 2019 they intended to remove her “unless there is a strong objection”.

Chris Pincher
Image:
Chris Pincher was Minister for Europe and the Americas when Harry Dunn was killed

Lessons need to be learned

Mr Lammy has also called on the Foreign Office to carry out an inquiry into the case and make sure lessons have been learnt around exemptions for diplomatic immunity, and publish what lessons have been learned.

The shadow foreign secretary asked why the Foreign Office did not provide official representation with Mr Dunn’s family when they visited then-president Donald Trump in 2019 to urge him to get Sacoolas to return to the UK and engage with a police investigation.

Mr Trump had Sacoolas waiting in the room next door to talk to them in what Mr Lammy said was “an ambush” by the president.

Mr Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Timm Dunn, turned down the surprise offer as they described it as “not appropriate” with no mediators or therapists present.

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‘Why didn’t you go to UK to attend court?’

Mr Lammy said: “This week’s judgment on the Harry Dunn case marks at least some justice after the Dunn family’s courageous and unwavering fight for Harry following his tragic death.

“The pain the Dunn family have had to endure, made worse by a series of failures in Foreign Office, must never be repeated. No other family can ever be allowed to go through this again.”

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‘It was three years of pure fight’

During Sacoolas’ sentencing last week, the judge praised Mr Dunn’s parents and family for their “dignified persistence”, which she said had led Sacoolas to “acknowledge her guilt”.

Radd Seiger, the Dunn family’s spokesman, said: “Our real enemy here isn’t Anne Sacoolas, our real enemy here is the US government.”

Sky News has contacted the Foreign Office and Mr Pincher’s office for a comment.

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