Manchester Police Will Not Share Information With U.S. Again
The leak of forensic photographs of the scene of Manchester attack that killed 22 people is forcing Manchester police to end information sharing with the United States suspected to have leaked the photographs.
The BBC reports on Thursday that Greater Manchester Police have stopped sharing information on Monday’s suicide attack with the U.S., alleging that U.S. intelligence leaked the images to New York Times.
British officials reacted with anger on Wednesday after the New York Times published forensic photographs from the crime scene at Manchester Arena.
Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to raise the issue with U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, when she meets him at a NATO summit in Brussels.
The photographs, which appear to show a detonator, metal nuts and screws and a blue Karrimor backpack that might have contained the bomb, were published a day after the suicide bomber’s name was leaked to U.S. media against the wishes of police in Manchester.
“We are furious. This is completely unacceptable,” a British government source said, adding that the matter was being “raised at every relevant level by the British authorities with their U.S. counterparts."
Britain’s National Counter Terrorism Policing also issued a rare rebuke, saying the leaks undermined the investigation into Monday night’s attack in which 22 people were killed.
“We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement and security partners around the world,” a spokesman said.
“When that trust is breached, it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families,” he continued.
“This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation.”
Protect Operational Integrity
Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, tweeted: “Complained to acting US Ambassador about leaks out of U.S. and was assured they would stop. They haven’t. Arrogant, wrong & disrespectful to GM [Greater Manchester]".
Speaking hours before the publication of the photographs Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC Radio Four that the U.S. leaks were “irritating.”
“Quite frankly, the British police have been very clear that they want to control the flow of information in order to protect operational integrity, the element of surprise,” she said.
“So it is irritating if it gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again.”
The New York Times also published a graph of the crime scene showing the location of the bodies, most of which were in a circle around the suicide bomber.
It said that the force of the blast had propelled the bomber’s torso outside of the ring towards the entrance of the arena and that carefully packed, makeshift shrapnel in the bomb had penetrated metal doors.
An initial analysis suggested the bomb had been made with forethought and care, the newspaper said, though the size and type of explosive used was not yet clear.
It did not say where it had obtained the information.
The leak of the images came after the name of the alleged attacker, Salman Abedi, was leaked to the US media on Tuesday before British police released it publicly.