British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said US President Joe Biden expressed “great sympathy” in the case of Harry Dunn, a British teenager who died after being hit by a car driven by the wife of a US diplomat.
Driver Anne Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity and left the UK after an accident outside RAF Crouton, a central England military base controlled by the US Air Force.
An attempt to extradite Sacoolas to face charges of death by dangerous driving was rejected by US officials, and the incident has sparked an ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two countries.
In a statement to CNN, a Downing Street spokesman said a “tragic” issue had been raised with Biden and added that Johnson “reiterated” that the UK “wants to see justice for the family.”
“He has his own personal reasons to feel very deeply about this issue,” Johnson told the BBC. Biden’s first wife and a newborn daughter died in a car accident in 1972.
“He was extremely sympathetic, but it’s not something the government can control very easily because the legal processes are still going on,” Johnson said.
Last year, the UK and US agreed to amend an “anomaly” that allowed Sacoolas, the wife of a former US diplomat, to leave Britain. Under the terms of the amended agreement, family members of staff based at RAF Crouton will no longer be exempt from criminal jurisdiction and will be subject to criminal prosecution where applicable.
In a statement, Dunn’s mother Charlotte Charles said on Thursday she was “incredibly grateful” that the matter was being taken “so seriously that it was raised on the eve of the G7 meeting.”
“We very much hope that President Biden takes a different approach to the previous administration given his deeply personal ties to the case that suffered damages in similar circumstances,” the family lawyer, Rad Seeger, said in a statement.
The White House declined to comment on the conversation, but a spokesperson for the National Security Council told CNN: “We again offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Dunn family for the loss of their son. This is a tragic accident.” The United States remains closely engaged with the UK government, and we have been transparent about our position on legal and diplomatic matters relating to this accident.”
Some more episodes: Former President Trump once tried to interfere in Dunn’s case, even holding a meeting with his parents at the White House in October 2019. Dunn’s parents were alarmed when Trump told them that Anne Sacoolas was in the next room. Dunn’s parents declined Trump’s offer to meet him.
CNN’s Caitlan Collins and Zahid Mahmood contributed reporting to this post.