Complaints about a police chief have been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after internal emails to the Home Office showed him describe the spokesman for Harry Dunn’s family as an “issue”.
Chief Constable Nick Adderley, of Northamptonshire Police, faced calls from the Dunn family to resign in October 2019 after a “disgraceful” tweet in which he commented on their legal battles with “how sad but how predictable”.
Mr Adderley had apologised to the Dunn family two months later for a “breakdown” in communications – describing his comments as “misconstrued”.
Mr Dunn, 19, was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car outside US military base RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in August 2019.
The suspect, 43-year-old Anne Sacoolas, had diplomatic immunity asserted on her behalf by the US government following the crash and she was able to return to her home country.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charged her with causing Mr Dunn’s death by dangerous driving in December 2019 but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was rejected by the US State Department a month later.
Emails obtained through a subject access request have shown how Mr Adderley warned the Home Office “that the issue is with the family’s spokesperson, who would disclose any engagement to the media and may not do so accurately”.
The Northamptonshire force had also made its views clear to the Foreign Office on the Interpol notice issued for the suspect – which emails have suggested was a diffusion notice and not a red notice.
Police had contacted the family to say Sacoolas was “wanted internationally” in May last year.
Emails showed that the police “regretted the email that had gone out to Harry Dunn’s family’s spokesperson” – adding “Northants Police maintain that it was not their intention to provide the information to the family”.
Internal Home Office communications from May 13 also revealed how they suggested the force “be more open” with the Dunn family about the Interpol notice “as we don’t want them to feel abandoned”.
But Mr Adderley rejected the suggestion, saying: “Following our telephone conversation this morning and taking into consideration the Judicial Review we are party to, I have taken the decision not to write to the family, or the family spokesperson.”
The Dunn family submitted a complaint to Northamptonshire police, fire and crime commissioner Stephen Mold on Sunday.
The emails follow “unprofessional and unacceptable” communications from Foreign Office officials who described Mr Dunn’s mother as “excessive” and Mr Seiger as “evil”.
Speaking after the complaint was submitted, Mr Seiger told the PA news agency: “The way Harry’s family have been treated by public bodies has been nothing short of appalling.
“We hope that the IOPC will investigate this matter thoroughly and, moving forwards, we hope all parties will join me in helping this family to get justice for their son.
“That should be their sole concern, as it has been mine from the outset.”
A spokesman for the office of the Northamptonshire police, fire and crime commissioner said: “We can confirm that we have received and recorded a complaint against the Chief Constable from a member of the public and in line with the statutory guidance on such complaints, we have referred it to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”