The US president, Joe Biden, is “actively engaged” and “extremely sympathetic” in the case of the teenage motorcyclist Harry Dunn, according to Boris Johnson.
The family of the teenager, who was killed when a car crashed into his motorbike outside a military base in Northamptonshire, have welcomed the issue being raised at “the first available opportunity” with Biden, ahead of the G7 summit of world leaders in Cornwall.
Asked if the two men had made progress when discussing the case, which has become a serious international row, Johnson said he understood there were “limits” to what Biden could do.
“As you know, he has his own personal reasons for feeling very deeply about the issue. And he was extremely sympathetic, but this is not something that either government can control very easily because there are legal processes that are still going on,” he told the BBC.
“But he did express a great deal of sympathy, as indeed this government continues to do for the family of Harry Dunn.”
He added both the US executive and legal and judiciary system were “working together”.
The teenager died in August 2019 after the car of a US citizen, Anne Sacoolas, collided with his motorbike, moments after she had left the RAF base where her husband worked for a US intelligence agency. Sacoolas’s lawyer has since told a US court that she was working for the intelligence agency at the time.
Washington asserted that she had diplomatic immunity, meaning there could be no criminal prosecution, and she flew back to the US days after the collision.
But the Crown Prosecution Service disagreed and issued an extradition request, ordering the 43-year-old to face trial for causing Dunn’s death by dangerous driving, an offence that can lead to a maximum sentence of 14 years.
A spokesman for the Dunn family, Radd Seiger, told the PA Media agency: “Harry’s parents are very pleased to see that the PM has taken the opportunity to raise the case with President Biden at the first available opportunity.
“This rightly shows just how important this issue is and we are very grateful to the prime minister and his team for doing so.
“As all parties know, there is no greater force on earth than the love between a mother and child. The family will continue to pursue justice until it is done.”
A challenge to the diplomatic immunity asserted on Sacoolas’s behalf, which was upheld in the high court in November, will be heard in the court of appeal next year, while the teenager’s parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, have brought a civil claim against the suspect and her husband in the US state of Virginia.