LONDON — The family of a 19-year-old British motorcyclist has reached a resolution with the U.S. State Department employee who fatally struck him with her car two years ago, the latest development in a case that touched off diplomatic tensions between Britain and the United States.
A spokesperson for the family of the teenager, Harry Dunn, said the parties had reached an agreement in a lawsuit filed by the family.
“It’s a milestone for us that we’ve achieved a resolution in the civil case,” said the spokesperson, Radd Seiger. “We can now look forward and focus on the criminal case, which we are very confident is coming soon.” He declined to disclose any details of the settlement.
Anne Sacoolas, the State Department employee, had been driving on the wrong side of the road in August 2019 near the village of Croughton, in central England, when she hit Dunn, who died at a hospital shortly after the accident.
Weeks later, Sacoolas, whose husband was working for the U.S. government at a British military base at the time, fled Britain under diplomatic immunity. British prosecutors charged Sacoolas with causing death by dangerous driving, but the U.S. government rejected an extradition request for her, infuriating many in Britain.
The settlement between Dunn’s family and Sacoolas is unlikely to end the yearslong tension between Washington and London over whether she should be required to return to Britain to face charges. In a phone call with Dunn’s mother and Seiger on Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that the settlement was not the end of her office’s efforts to have Sacoolas extradited to Britain.
“She made it clear that the government’s position is that justice must be done,” Seiger said.
Truss also said she had discussed the issue with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday during a meeting in New York, where both had gathered for the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly.
Britain’s foreign office said in a statement that its position had not changed and that it believed the refusal of the United States to extradite Sacoolas amounted to a denial of justice.
“We continue to support the Dunn family to seek justice for Harry,” the statement said.
In the years since the accident, Dunn’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, have campaigned for Sacoolas to be prosecuted in Britain. In October 2019, they traveled to the White House for a meeting with President Donald Trump, who surprised them by revealing that Sacoolas was in an adjoining room. Dunn’s parents declined to meet with her. They later brought a civil claim against her in Virginia.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, members of diplomatic staff and their families posted in a foreign country are entitled to immunity. Last year, Britain and the United States ultimately agreed to make it harder for diplomats to claim immunity for crimes they committed outside their duties. The changes, however, apply to future cases and not that of Sacoolas.