Challenge to Secrecy Around U.S. Drones Hub Heard by Tribunal

The Information Tribunal will hear the appeal of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones against successive refusals of the Ministry of Defence and the Information Commissioner to disclose documents regarding the massive expansion of a United States military base: RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire.  The base is expected to become a central hub in the U.S.’s global drone warfare programme.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones is seeking information about the planned massive expansion of a United States military and intelligence base at RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire. According to the US military, American forces stationed at RAF Croughton provide “global strike operations.” The base has long been suspected to lie at the heart of the United States global network of drones carrying out targeted killings. The programme is highly controversial in human rights and international law terms. It was expanded under President Obama, thus setting a dangerous precedent adopted by current U.S. president.

The APPG on Drones seeks a “Host Nation Notification” (“HNN”) dated 7 January 2015 sent to the Secretary of State for Defence by the United States Department of Defense (“DOD”), and the response of the Secretary of State of the same date.  It is believed that this will contain important further information regarding the plans and uses of the base and also will shed light onto the opaque relationship between the U.S. and UK in relation to U.S. bases on UK soil.

The APPG on Drones states that HNN documents have been published by other countries before, and there is every reason to adopt that approach here, given the high public concern regarding drone warfare and the U.S. government programme in particular.

The case will be heard in the First Tier Tribunal at 11am on 30-31 October 2017.

Daniel Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn said: “The MoD refused to disclose information about U.S. activities on UK soil citing the sensitivities of that relationship without checking with the U.S. authorities first and despite the obvious public interest in ensuring that the U.S. is not prosecuting an illegal drone warfare campaign from UK soil. The APPG on Drones strives hard to increase transparency around these issues and hopes that the Information Tribunal will agree with them and order disclosure of the documentation.”

The APPG are represented pro-bono by Deighton Pierce Glynn, Timothy Pitt-Payne QC (11KBW chambers) and Zac Sammour (11KBW Chambers).