May rebukes Trump over ‘in the sights’ comment
THERESA MAY has delivered a rebuke to Donald Trump over his claim the Parsons Green Tube bomber was “in the sights” of Scotland Yard.
Following a meeting of the government’s Cobra emergencies committee, the Prime Minister said: “I never think it’s helpful for anybody to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”
Her intervention came after the Metropolitan Police said the US President’s comments – which did not correspond with any information released by the UK authorities – were “unhelpful” and “pure speculation”.
Mr Trump made the provocative allegation in a trademark tweet as police launched a major manhunt to track down the perpetrators responsible for planting the device on a packed commuter train.
“Another attack in London by a loser terrorist,” he wrote. “These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”
His claim threatened to spark a fresh row over US-UK intelligence-sharing arrangements which have already come under strain since he entered the White House.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The comments are unhelpful and pure speculation. If anyone has got any evidence or information, please contact the anti-terrorism hotline.”
The remarks were echoed by former No 10 aide Nick Timothy, who tweeted: “True or not – and I’m sure he doesn’t know – this is so unhelpful from leader of our ally and intelligence partner.”
There was no immediate response from the White House to questions as to the basis of Mr Trump’s assertion.
However, it comes after British police temporarily suspended intelligence-sharing with the US in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing in May following a series of leaks to American media.
CBS disclosed the name of the bomber, Salman Abedi, citing US sources, at a time when the British authorities were asking media to withhold the information to protect the investigation.
The New York Times then published detailed photographs taken from the bomb scene which had been taken by British investigators.
The “special relationship” had already come under strain earlier in the year, when the then White House press secretary Sean Spicer repeated claims that GCHQ, the UK surveillance agency, had been involved in bugging the Trump campaign on behalf of Barack Obama.
His comments drew a rare public statement from GCHQ, denouncing the allegation as “utterly ridiculous”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who clashed with Mr Trump over his response to the London Bridge terror attack, would not be drawn on the President’s latest comments.
“I’ve simply been too busy this morning to look at my Twitter,” he told LBC Radio. “My priority is making sure that we do what we can to keep Londoners safe.”
A City Hall source said: “He hopes people don’t speculate on things before we know the full facts. That’s quite clear what he thinks about that.”
Asked about the London terror attack by reporters outside the White House in Washington, Mr Trump said: “It’s a terrible thing. It just keeps going and going, and we have to be very smart, we have to be very, very tough. Perhaps we are not nearly tough enough.
“It’s just an absolutely terrible thing. In fact, I’m going to call the Prime Minister right now.
“We have to be tougher and we have to be smarter.”