Harry Dunn case: Foreign Office ‘fails’ to give further disclosure amid text row


Lawyers representing the family of Harry Dunn have said the Foreign Office (FCO) has breached a court order after failing to provide further disclosure of documents for their judicial review claim.

The news comes after documents, seen by the PA news agency, showed that a senior diplomat at the FCO had sent a text message to their US Embassy counterpart saying they should "feel able" to put suspect Anne Sacoolas on the next flight home.

The family spokesman Radd Seiger said the Foreign Office had been bound by a court order to provide further material to the family's lawyers by 4pm on Friday.

Harry Dunn death
Harry Dunn death

Initial disclosure documents, which surfaced earlier this year, showed a briefing note copied to Dominic Raab's private secretary from three days after the fatal crash – which revealed concern for some "very unpalatable headlines".

A witness statement from the senior investigating officer at Northamptonshire Police said an official at the FCO had requested the force delay telling the family that a waiver for Mrs Sacoolas's diplomatic immunity had been declined by the US – adding that it would help if they could get their "ducks in a row" beforehand.

The 19-year-old motorcyclist died when he crashed into a car outside a US military base in Northamptonshire in August last year.

Mrs Sacoolas, 42, the wife of an intelligence official based at RAF Croughton, was granted diplomatic immunity following the crash and was able to return to her home country.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in December last year, but an extradition request, submitted by the Home Office, was rejected by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January.

Mr Seiger has said the FCO was now in breach of a court order "without any valid explanation".

Commenting on the missing disclosure documents, Mr Seiger told PA: "Harry's parents continue to suffer extreme emotional and psychological hardship. Time is therefore of the essence.

"Every passing hour, let alone day, increases the danger for them and I have made that clear to Mr Raab consistently throughout.

"But frankly, his conduct in the judicial review has been nothing short of disgraceful.

"His whole attitude throughout the case so far has been of a school yard bully, making threats to the parents of bankruptcy if they brought the case at all and attempting to harass them at every step along the way refusing to give them the information they are entitled to."

Mr Seiger continued: "He has hired four top barristers to run the case for him and there are numerous lawyers in the Government legal department behind him too."

"Between them all, all they have managed to do so far is to conspire with him to engage in a scandalous attempted cover up of the truth, when the very opposite should be happening.

"They have consistently blocked the parents' every attempt to get to the bottom of things barely disclosing any documents so far which would give the parents some understanding of what happened and why.

"Frankly, they have set a course that will lead to the Foreign Secretary coming under severe criticism from the courts. It has been like trying to extract hen's teeth."

Mr Seiger said he has now called on the Foreign Office to demand the return of Mrs Sacoolas.

2/ On that basis, they must now not only reiterate their calls for her to be returned to face justice, but positively demand it and make it clear to the US Govt what the consequences will be should they fail to do so. I have made that clear to Mr Raab and now call on him to do so

— Radd Seiger (@RaddSeiger) May 2, 2020

He added: "To cap it all off, he is now ignoring court orders. He was due to give the parents further information about the decision making process by April 30.

"By agreement and court order, he was due to give the parents further disclosure of documents by 4pm yesterday.

"He failed to do either and is now in breach of a court order without any valid explanation. It does not get any more serious than that.

"As a senior minister in in this Government, he is failing in his basic legal duties."

The Foreign Office has been approached for a comment.