UK's Foreign Secretary faces lawsuit over Pakistan drone strikes

Published: March 12, 2012

London law firm Leigh Day & Co said it had “credible,” evidence that Hague oversaw a policy of passing intelligence to US forces planning attacks against in Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON: Lawyers for the family of man killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan said they would take legal action against Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday, accusing him of complicity in strikes they say broke international laws.

London law firm Leigh Day & Co said it had “credible,” evidence that Hague oversaw a policy of passing intelligence to US forces planning attacks against in Pakistan. It plans to issue formal proceedings against Hague at the High Court in London on behalf of Noor, whose father died in a drone attack last year.

Malik Daud Khan was part of a local “jirga”, or council of holding a meeting in the tribal areas of northwest when a missile fired from a drone hit the group, the firm said.

Attacks by pilotless US aircraft have become a key weapon in President Barack Obama’s counter-terrorism strategy in and officials say they have helped to weaken al Qaeda’s in the region.

However, the attacks have become a source of friction between Washington and Islamabad and have angered many who see them as a breach of their sovereignty and the frequent civilian deaths.

Leigh Day & Co will argue that those involved in armed can only claim immunity from criminal law if they are “lawful combatants” taking part in an “international armed”.

Khan’s lawyers will say that staff working at UK Government Headquarters (GCHQ) in southwest England’s main intelligence monitoring centre, may have broken the law. As civilians, they are not classed as combatants and be prosecuted, the law firm said.

They will also say that Pakistan is not involved in a conflict.

“There is credible, unchallenged evidence that (Hague) is operating a policy of passing intelligence to officials or of the US government and that he considers such to be in ‘strict accordance’ with the law,” Richard, head of human rights at Leigh Day, said in a statement.

“If this is the case, the Secretary of State has one or more of the principles of international law immunity for those involved in armed attacks on behalf a state.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said it did not comment on legal proceedings. Asked whether Britain helps the States in drone attacks, the spokesman added: “We don’t comment on intelligence matters”.

A key ally of Washington in neighbouring Afghanistan, Britain has around 9,500 soldiers in country. The deaths of six British soldiers in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday brought the British death toll to more than 400.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • MarkH
    Mar 12, 2012 - 3:58AM

    It’s just too bad Pakistan is broke already or law suits would be a gold mine.


  • Noble Tufail
    Mar 12, 2012 - 1:34PM

    Is it really a court topic ??


  • Mar 12, 2012 - 3:33PM

    Vienna,March 12,2012
    Do not waste Court´s time on the premise ” May have broken
    law”. If you are not sure shut up, keep your fee advance. Drone
    is unmanned therefore not an individual to face the court of law.
    Armed conflict should follow the declaration of war.Not criminal
    cowardly attacks meant to be counteracted by remote drone
    released missiles.
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    –Kulamarva Balakrishna


  • Mar 12, 2012 - 7:44PM

    Might is right,
    they have might so they are right.

    No more hypocritical than those,
    who tolerate outrage but commit
    no revolt.


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