Labour split on snooping by US intelligence

Shadow Energy Secretary says spying on allies is 'not acceptable' without security threat as aides to Ed Miliband refuse to condemn monitoring

The ongoing diplomatic row over America's eavesdropping on world leaders triggered a split in the Shadow Cabinet last night.

Caroline Flint, the Shadow Energy Secretary, said the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was right to be aggrieved over reports that her phone had been monitored by US intelligence. However, aides to Ed Miliband refused to condemn the monitoring, saying the Labour leader "deplored" the release of any material which damages the national interest.

David Cameron has also condemned the release, describing those who criticise British and American intelligence agencies as having "lah-di-dah, airy-fairy" views.

The Labour division emerged as it was reported that the US may have bugged Ms Merkel's phone for more than 10 years. Der Spiegel also reported that President Barack Obama told the Chancellor he would have stopped the surveillance, which started before his presidency, if he had known about it.

The newspaper said Ms Merkel's phone had been listed by the National Security Agency's Special Collection Service since 2002 and remained on the list weeks before Mr Obama visited Berlin in June.

Ms Flint, who was a Cabinet minister in the Gordon Brown government when it emerged that UK intelligence agencies snooped on G20 leaders in 2009, told BBC1's Question Time: "I don't think it's acceptable to use surveillance in a way which is spying on people who are our allies and who work with us through international organisations both on defence and on other matters as well. I don't think it's acceptable." Asked whether she could justify what happened under Labour, the shadow minister added: "I'm just saying unless there is threat to our security, I think you have to have a rationale for this. I don't think just fishing trips for spying in that way is the right thing to do.

"And our security services, let me say, do a fantastic job for us in all sorts of ways to keep us safe. But there have to be rules within that and on how they operate. And next week, for the first time, the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are going to give public evidence to the Intelligence Committee in the Commons. But there have to be rules around this and I think it's quite right that Angela Merkel is aggrieved at what she's found out."

However, a source close to Mr Miliband, who also sat in Mr Brown's 2009 cabinet, refused to condemn the US for monitoring Ms Merkel's phone, and said: "The release of any material which damages the national interest is to be deplored."

As well as Ms Merkel, the leaders of Russia, Mexico, Brazil and France are also reported to be among 35 premiers whose phones were placed under surveillance by the NSA.

Against a backdrop of diplomatic tension, Mr Cameron will this week host the World Islamic Economic Forum in London, the first time it has been held outside the Islamic world. The Prime Minister will use the summit to underscore his theme of Britain being in a "global race".

He said: "With some of the world's fastest-growing markets in Muslim-majority countries, this presents major opportunities for us. I am determined to make Britain the best place to start, grow and do business."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power