Downing Street denies White House rift suggestions

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Indy Politics

Downing Street today sought to quash suggestions of a rift with the White House over intelligence-sharing about the Detroit plane bomb suspect.

Gordon Brown's spokesman insisted that relations remained "excellent" after yesterday disclosing that intelligence about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had been handed to the US.



In a further statement on the issue today, the spokesman stressed: "There is absolutely no suggestion that the UK passed any information to the US which they did not act on."



The Prime Minister's spokesman revealed, at an official briefing yesterday morning, that the UK knew Abdulmutallab had tried to contact radical Islamists while a student in London.



The suspect's name was subsequently included in a dossier of people believed to have made attempts to contact known extremists that was shared with American intelligence.



He was not singled out as a particular risk, however, as Abdulmutallab was not thought to have been radicalised until after he left the UK in October 2008.



But there were reports today that the White House might be angered by the disclosure, which put further pressure on US agencies to explain why they failed to identify Abdulmutallab.



Today, at another regular briefing for journalists, Mr Brown's spokesman added: "We routinely exchange large amounts of intelligence with the US on a two-way basis so that we can build up a shared picture of the potential threats we face.



"Since the Detroit incident, working closely with our American colleagues our intelligence agencies have built up a fuller picture of the suspect in that case.



"As is usual this information has been shared appropriately.



"There is absolutely no suggestion that the UK passed any information to the US which they did not act on.



"We work very closely with the US on all counter-terrorism matters and obviously it goes without saying the Prime Minister enjoys an excellent relationship with President Obama as do White House and Downing Street officials.



"I hope you understand it would not be appropriate for me to make any further comment on intelligence issues at this stage."



The spokesman declined to elaborate on what information had been passed on to the US before, and what had been passed on after, the December 25 incident.



Asked whether the White House had made contact with Number 10 in the past 24 hours, he said there was regular contact between officials.



"I think they also have been reading some of the comment about this issue and would I am sure want to make sure there is no misunderstanding," he said.



"They also, I am sure, acknowledge that there is only so much that either party can say."



Mr Obama has criticised US intelligence agencies for failing to piece together information about the 23-year-old Nigerian that should have stopped him boarding the flight.



Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to ignite explosives stored in his underwear as Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam, carrying 280 passengers, made its final descent to Detroit.

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