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Did Britain spy on the UN?


John HumphrysToday Presenter - John Humphrys
Speaking on the Today programme, former Cabinet Minister Clare Short said that the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was under surveillance by the British secret services.

Hear Clare Short's controversial comments on Britain spying on the UN.

Was Britain involved in spying operations on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the run up to the Iraq war?

Hear the thoughts of a former spy who went to jail for breaking the official secrets act and Philip Knightley, who writes about spying.

Controversial claims: Clare Short.

The United Nations


BBC NEWS - Clare Short allegations 

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The UN Secretary General Kofi Anann

The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Speaking in an interview with John Humphrys, Clare Short claims she knew spying was taking place in the UN Secretary General’s office and Britain was involved.

“Well I know - I've seen transcripts of Kofi Annan's conversations.”

She continued to say that she had been in conversations with Mr Annan and remembered thinking that they were being monitored.

"In fact, I have had conversations with Kofi in the run up to the war thinking 'oh dear, there will be a transcript of this and people will see what he and I are saying'."

Asked if she knew about this when she was in government, she replied “Absolutely. I read some of the transcripts of the accounts of his conversations."

However, when questioned about whether covert monitoring of the UN offices falls within International law she was unsure.

"I don't know. I presume so. It is odd but I don't know about the legalities."

A Downing Street spokesman later said in a statement: "We never comment on intelligence matters. Our intelligence and security agencies act in accordance with national and international law at all times." 

However the U.N. declared any such operation would be illegal. "This is something which is not entirely surprising," Andreas Nicklisch, deputy director of the U.N.'s Brussels office told Reuters. "It's illegal of course, but it's also because we work in complete transparency and openness."

A response from Tony Blair at his monthly news conference said that, “I'm not going to comment on the work of our security services - do not take that as an indication that the allegations made by Clare Short are true.”

He continued by saying that the allegations which Clare Short has made this morning were as “deeply irresponsible”.

Is Clare Short 'irresponsible'? Send us your views and we will post a selection of the best emails.

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