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Harry Dunn's 'killer' fled as Pincher 'distracted' by misconduct probe, Labour MP suggests

5 July 2022, 09:43 | Updated: 5 July 2022, 10:41

By Megan Hinton

Harry Dunn's alleged killer was able to flee the country because Chris Pincher, the minister responsible for the Americas at the time, was "distracted" by a misconduct probe, a Labour MP has suggested.

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Emily Thornberry, Shadow Attorney General and MP for Islington South, said letting suspect Anne Sacoolas leave the UK "was clearly an example of the Foreign Office falling down on the job".

Speaking to LBC's Tom Swarbrick, the Labour MP suggested Chris Pincher may have been "so distracted" by an investigation into sexual misconduct in 2019 that he may not have been "able to do his job properly".

Tom questioned Ms Thornberry about her opinion on the Chris Pincher allegations, to which she replied: "Simon McDonald has also said that the investigation into Pincher took place in the summer of 2019.

Read more: Boris was briefed 'in person' over Chris Pincher allegations, ex-senior civil servant says

"You might remember the Harry Dunn case, he was killed on the 27th of August and the woman who was responsible for driving into him - he was on a motorbike and was killed by an American who was driving - she left the country on the 15th of September."

Mr Pincher was appointed Minister of State for Europe and the Americas in July 2019.

"I hope that he wasn't so distracted by the investigation as to not be able to do his job properly, because that was clearly an example of the Foreign Office falling down on the job," Ms Thornberry said.

Harry, 19, died in a road accident in 2019.
Harry, 19, died in a road accident in 2019. Picture: Alamy

Tom pressed: "You think he might have been?"

"I think that the Harry Dunn case is one of the great disgraces in recent years of the Foreign Office - that they simply for reasons that we still don't really understand - allowed this woman to leave the country when they shouldn't have," Ms Thornberry replied.

"I don't think they were properly focussed on it, and it might be because the minister responsible for the Americas was distracted by the fact that he was being investigated for what was called inappropriate behaviour."

Chris Pincher dramatically quit his role last week after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private Conservative members' club in London.

It was the second time he resigned from the whips' office after Conservative candidate Alex Story accused him of making an inappropriate advance in 2017.

On Thursday August 27 2019, whilst Chris Pincher was Minister for America, the teenager was knocked off his motorbike and killed near American airbase RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.

Read more: Harry Dunn suspect could have been distracted by phone, lawyers claim

The suspect in that crash, Anne Sacoolas, remains in the United States claiming diplomatic immunity - despite his family campaigning for her to face the charges of causing his death by dangerous driving.

She returned to her home country 19 days after the crash.

She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving by the CPS, but a Home Office extradition request was rejected by the US State Department in January 2020, something the UK Home Office called a "denial of justice".

On Monday evening, Radd Seiger, a spokesperson for Harry Dunn's family, tweeted: "At the time of Harry Dunn's death, Pincher was the Minister of State for Europe and Americas at FCO and played a key role in the scandal which followed.

"USA said they would remove Mrs Sacoolas unless UK strongly objected. They of course removed her."

The CPS was due to hear the 44-year-old's case at Westminster Magistrates' Court in January this year, but the hearing was vacated at the last minute.

In September Harry's parents reached a "resolution" with Mrs Sacoolas in the civil claim for damages, something that Mr Seiger said came as "considerable relief" to the family.

"The family feel that they can now turn their attention to the criminal case and the long awaited inquest into Harry’s death which will follow the criminal case," he said.

"Harry’s family will never be able to move on from his loss, but they are more determined than ever to continue to move forward."

Chris Pincher's office declined to comment on Ms Thornberry's comments when approached by LBC.