'Potential threat' to UK security stressed

 

LONDON:THE DECISION by Wikileaks to publish several hundred thousand confidential US diplomatic cables is a “potential threat” to British national security, the British government warned last night.

So far the cables have included information of minor embarrassment to the UK – including one detailing undiplomatic remarks made by Prince Andrew – but London said it anticipated “several days more of disclosures”.

Prime minister David Cameron’s spokesman said the Wikileaks move was “inhibiting the conduct of governments”, adding: “It is important that governments are able to operate on the basis of confidentiality of information.” US ambassador to London Louis Susman briefed Downing Street last week on the likely revelations, while Mr Cameron discussed the issue with foreign secretary William Hague.

It is already known that the US embassy was interested last January in the friendship between Mr Hague and Alan Duncan, the openly gay minister for international development with whom Mr Hague once shared a flat.

A cable from the US State Department’s Elissa Pitterle thanked the London embassy for a “particularly insightful and exceptionally well timed” note about the two, and sought more details on Mr Duncan’s political ambitions.

Meanwhile, Prince Andrew had “verged on the rude” in 2008 during a lunch in Kyrgyzstan, when he criticised British anti-corruption inquiries which, he said, threatened trade relations with Saudi Arabia, US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Tatiana Gfoeller said.

He described an inquiry by the Serious Fraud Office into the sale of military equipment and training as “an idiocy”. The prince denounced “those journalists who poke their noses everywhere”, to cheers from British and Canadian businessmen in the capital, Bishkek. Guardianjournalists had led an investigation into the Al-Yamama deal.

One of the guests said operating in Kyrgyzstan was “like doing business in the Yukon in the 19th century”, where pay-offs were necessary, and the prince said: “All of this sounds exactly like France.”