26 February 2004
On 26 February 2004, Clare Short, who had left Tony Blair’s Cabinet a few weeks earlier, informed astonished listeners to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that MI6 had spied on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as part of its attempt to obtain a second UN resolution to support a war against Iraq. Clare Short was subsequently served with a written warning for breaching cabinet confidentiality, but Blair stopped short of expelling her from the Labour Party, for fear of turning her into a martyr.
The BBC’s veteran security correspondent Frank Gardner was defensive about the role of MI6, commenting that ‘Officially the government is staying tight-lipped, but people I’ve spoken to behind the scenes are rather surprised at all the fuss about this… My government sources say it is legal. They are saying everybody does this, that the British UN mission in New York is the target of other people trying to eavesdrop on it.’1 Many of the public, however, remained unconvinced that spying on the UN Secretary General could be justified by claims that other countries spy on the UK’s New York UN Mission.
- “Q & A: UN Spying Allegations,” BBC News, 26 February 2004, accessed online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3489888.stm
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