White House tells UK Government 'it was simply pointing to reports' about British spies wiretapping Donald Trump

The Trump administration has already committed not to repeat the baseless claims again, according to Number 10

Picture:
Picture:

The White House says it has contacted the British Government to explain it was "simply pointing to reports" about GCHQ wiretapping Donald Trump.

The Trump administration, which had already told Number 10 that it would not repeat the comments, suggested that it didn't have to take responsibility for the reports cited by Sean Spicer.

Mr Spicer was referring to claims by a Fox News guest that the British security services had helped Barack Obama spy on Mr Trump when he was President-elect. The White House has said that Mr Spicer wasn't pointing to any story in particular but in fact a range of them.

In fact, Mr Spicer specifically repeated claims made on Fox News by former judge Andrew Napolitano, who said that he had spoken to three sources had told him that GCHQ spied on Mr Trump.

The British ambassador Sir Kim Darroch and Sir Mark Lyall "expressed their concerns to Sean Spicer and General McMaster", a White House spokesperson told NBC Nightly News. "Mr Spicer and General McMaster explained that Mr Spicer was simply pointing public reports, not endorsing any specific story", the statement read.

Those reports were quickly denied by GCHQ itself, in an unprecedented move. Both Sir Kim and Sir Mark had backed GCHQ's statement, which described the allegations as "utterly ridiculous".

Representatives of the Trump administration have not publicly apologised for the claims, despite the new statement and its commitment not to repeat them. Asked at a briefing, Theresa May's spokesman refused to say whether there had been a private apology.

Number 10 also said that the fact the White House promised not to repeat the claims showed that the administration does not take them seriously.

He said: "We have made clear to the (US) administration that these claims are ridiculous and that they should be ignored and we have received assurances that these allegations won't be repeated."

Asked if the allegations posed problems for the special UK-US relationship, he replied: "We have a close, special relationship with the White House and that allows us to raise concerns as and when they arise as was true in this case."

He added: "We have received assurances that these allegations won't be repeated and this shows the administration doesn't give the allegations any credence."

Sean Spicer says Donald Trump did not mean Barack Obama personally wire-tapped him during campaign

The PM's spokesman said it would not be possible for GCHQ to spy on Mr Trump as both countries are members of the Five Eyes alliance, a joint intelligence co-operation agreement which also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

"I would add, just as a matter of fact, with the Five Eyes pact, we cannot use each other's capabilities to circumvent laws," he said.

"It's a situation that simply wouldn't arise."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in