Listen to this article
British intelligence officials angrily slapped down claims made on Thursday that President Donald Trump had been under surveillance by them during his election campaign.
GCHQ, the UK’s usually tight-lipped electronic intelligence agency broke with its convention of not formally commenting on intelligence matters to deny the claims, writes Sam Jones in London.
“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wire tapping’ against the then President Elect are nonsense,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “The are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”
The claims will nevertheless play to mounting concern in the UK over the Trump presidency, and its so-far tumultuous relationship with its own spymasters.
The Anglo-American intelligence relationship is the closest in the world, and routinely involves the seamless sharing of highly-sensitive material. Britain has played a particularly strong role in recent months in gathering intelligence on Russia — but some in the UK fear the White House’s somewhat chaotic first few weeks under the new presidency and vocal approach to intelligence matters may prefigure a more inhibited relationship in the future.