UK Politics

Drone attacks: UK urged to 'come clean' on US spy role

General Atomics MQ-1 Predator drone (file)
Image caption Pakistan says drone strikes violate its sovereignty and international law

The UK should come clean about alleged help it is giving to the US secret services to find drone attack targets, a former senior law officer has said.

Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald said there was "pretty compelling" evidence listening post GCHQ was passing information to the US.

Pakistan has repeatedly protested that the unmanned attacks on al-Qaeda and Taliban targets are a "violation of its sovereignty and international law".

The Foreign Office declined to comment.

Lord Macdonald told The Times newspaper: "The evidence is pretty compelling that we are providing that kind of information to the Americans.

"The British people have a right to know about the policies being pursued by their government.

"I've been to Pakistan and I have seen what drone strikes can do.

"Innocent people do get killed as a result of misplaced strikes.

"It is also succeeding in creating a new generation of people with huge resentment against the West, fuelling the kind of terrorism we are trying to fight.

"The fact this is one-sided, mechanised and robotic gives these strikes a particularly sinister dimension."

Lord Macdonald's call comes after reports a GCHQ official admitted the agency was proud of providing "locational intelligence" to the CIA.

The peer said: "If that is right, it strikes me as difficult for the government to sustain the position that they are not going to comment.

"Presumably if GCHQ are saying that, then one presumes they are reflecting government policy in saying it."

Earlier this year David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislations, warned the government could face civil legal action over possible complicity.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "It's the UK's long-standing policy not to comment on intelligence matters."

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