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Government 'must distance itself from US drones'

A COMMISSION chaired by former head of intelligence agency GCHQ Sir David Omand called on the British government yesterday to distance itself from the US drone programme.

Citing the “sinister cultural and political salience” of US drone operations the commission said “the UK government does not inadvertently collude in RPA (drone) actions contrary to international law” when collaborating with the country.

Its report — produced by the Birmingham Policy Commission on the Security Impact of Drones — said that where British and US forces are collaborating “assurances need to be maintained that their use is in accordance with UK legal guidelines.”

Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at legal charity Reprieve who also sat on the Birmingham commission, said: “When figures such as the former head of GCHQ are suggesting Britain needs to distance itself from the US drone programme, the UK government must listen. 

“There can no longer be any doubt that covert US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen contravene international law. As long as the UK continues to support this programme — through the sharing of intelligence, air bases and personnel — it is complicit in these illegal drone strikes carried out by the CIA.”

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