Boris Johnson denies intelligence was kept from him

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Boris Johnson has denied that sensitive information was withheld from him when he was foreign secretary. 

Asked about the matter during a leadership hustings event in Darlington, Mr Johnson, who was foreign secretary between 2016 and 2018, said: “I am sure that the prime minister would not comment on intelligence matters either so I am extremely dubious about the provenance of this story.”

He continued: “It’s not true.

“I obviously can’t comment any further on intelligence matters.”

Reports that Downing Street attempted to hold back intelligence from Mr Johnson emerged overnight.

The foreign secretary is required to authorise sensitive operations.

The reports, in the BBC and The Sun newspaper, said Mr Johnson knew information was being held back and was “very unhappy” about it.

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The Sun reported a source saying: “The PM didn’t think Boris could be trusted because he had a loose tongue. He made the agencies anxious. He wasn’t told everything because of that.”

Sources close to Mr Johnson said he was informed of everything that he was required to know, the BBC reported.

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A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “We don’t comment on intelligence matters.”

Asked if Theresa May trusted Mr Johnson, she said: “Yes. It’s a matter of fact that it was the PM’s own decision to appoint Boris Johnson as foreign secretary in full knowledge of all responsibilities that that job involves.”

Jeremy Hunt
Image: Jeremy Hunt refused to comment

The topic was also put to rival candidate and current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

He responded: “We do have a rule that we never comment on intelligence matters. And that would include comments about my predecessor and comments about myself.”

Mr Hunt refused to answer any questions on the matter, including whether he felt he was being shown the intelligence he needed for his role. He said he was unable to comment theoretically or practically about intelligence sharing.

The foreign secretary appeared to make a thinly veiled jibe against his predecessor and rival when he was asked when was the last time he had let someone down.

Mr Hunt raised the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian who has been in an Iranian prison since April 2016.

Mr Hunt said: “I feel I’m letting down Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe every single day that she remains in jail while I’m foreign secretary.”

Mr Hunt said: “She has a daughter the same age as my daughter and that is something that is a very big deal.”

He added: “And it’s not just Brits, by the way, there are other countries’ nationals that are held hostage in jails in Iran as tools of diplomatic leverage.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Image: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been in jail since 2016

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who recently ended a 15-day hunger strike, was arrested at Tehran airport and sentenced to five years in jail after being accused of espionage – a charge she vehemently denies.

When Mr Johnson was foreign secretary, he incorrectly stated that she was “teaching people journalism” in Iran despite relatives insisting she was visiting family.

Mr Johnson’s comments were seized on by the Tehran regime and used against the charity worker, who remains in prison.

Last month, he told Sky News he feels a “deep sense of anguish” for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe but rejected any responsibility for her continuing plight.

Boris Johnson denies intelligence was kept from him as foreign secretary

Boris Johnson has denied that sensitive information was withheld from him when he was foreign secretary. Asked about the matter during a leadership hustings event in Darlington, Mr Johnson, who was foreign secretary between 2016 and 2018, said: “I am sure that the prime minister would not comment on intelligence matters either so I am extremely dubious about the provenance of this story.”

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