British Lord Justice Alan Moses has blocked Pakistani Noor Khan from suing the Government Communications Headquarters for providing spy data to the US that led to drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
Khan’s father was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan last year, and argued that the GCHQ’s faulty intelligence was to blame for the attack which killed him. The Foreign Office has argued that the court had to scrap the case because it could harm ties with the US.
Lord Justice Moses said that the “real aim” of the lawsuit was to get the British High Court to condemn the US drone strikes for their large civilian death toll, and that the part about his father and the GCHQ was simply a way to get around to that.
British officials have regularly argued that national security cases could not be heard in British courts because they might conceivably offend the US. Generally the courts have rejected this argument, but today’s ruling may suggest that is going to change, and points to more secrecy in the UK.