Information tribunal dismisses Drone Wars appeal over British drone secrecy

An information tribunal has upheld the MoD’s decision to refuse to release the number of British armed drones deployed against ISIS and their location, despite such information being released by the UK about its ‘manned’ aircraft.

In the just released open judgement (a closed judgement has also been produced but will not been made available to us), the tribunal accepted that there was clear public interest in the information Drone Wars sought as both parliament and the public could then ascertain if Read more

UK armed drone deployment: brief report from Information Tribunal

Tribunal in closed session

Our appeal against the Ministry of Defence’s decision not to release the number of UK Reapers engaged in operations against ISIS, nor the location of all UK Reapers was heard before an Information Tribunal yesterday (11 July). Despite such details being regularly released for ‘manned’ aircraft engaged in such operations – and as we demonstrated in court – many other operations including Operation Herrick (Afghanistan), Operation Ellamy (Libya) and even Operation Desert Fox (Iraq), the MoD insisted in court there were “appropriate reasons”, which could not be revealed in open court, why deployment details of armed drones could not be released. Group Captain Mark Flewin, attached to Permanent Joint Headquarter (PJHQ) and responsible for managing information operations in support of Operation Shader gave evidence for the MoD in open session but repeated stated he could not answer some of our questions in open session.  His redacted statement is below.  GC Flewin stated in open session: Read more

Where are Britain’s armed drones? Why Drone Wars is going to court to seek answers

Drone Wars UK will be in court next week seeking to overturn the refusal of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to release how many of the UK’s fleet of ten armed Reaper drones are deployed and where they are located. The MoD currently releases such deployment details about its other armed aircraft, but has insisted since late 2014 that such information cannot be released about its armed drones.

The Information Tribunal, will take place in central London on 11th and 12th July, but will be Read more

Where are Britain’s armed drones? And why it matters we are not allowed to know

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In the dark: RAF Reaper drones

At the first stage of what is likely to be a lengthy appeals process, the Information Commissioner has upheld the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to reveal to Drone Wars UK the number of Britain’s armed drones currently deployed.

Despite the fact that the MoD are happy to give such details about other surveillance and attack aircraft taking part in operations against ISIS, the MoD insists that the number of drones deployed nor their location can be released for reasons of operational security. Read more

UK setting dangerous precedent in refusing basic information about drone use

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Sssh! Don’t mention the drone numbers (Click to enlarge)

In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request from Drone Wars, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has again refused to detail the number of armed British Reaper drones undertaking operations in Iraq and Syria, the location of their base in the Middle East or whether they have been involved in missions over Libya. The UK is known to have ten armed Reaper drones in service.

The MoD insists that both the number of British Reaper drones involved in operations against ISIS and the location of their base must remain secret “for reasons of safeguarding operational security.” In stark contrast the MoD quite readily gives details of other RAF aircraft undertaking operations in Iraq and Syria as well as their operating base without it causing any problem Read more

UK operations in Iraq/Syria:  New reporting methods means less transparency & understanding

Days before the parliamentary recess Defence Secretary Michael Fallon slipped out a written statement on UK military operations against ISIS.  Overshadowed by the uproar around the revelations from Reprieve that UK pilots embedded in US forces were already undertaking air strikes in Syria in direct contravention of parliamentary authority, the statement reveals two important changes to UK drone operations.  Firstly that the UK is changing the way it calculates and records air strikes in Iraq to fall in line with the US methodology (or as Fallon chose to  put it “the Coalition method”).  Secondly through what Michael Fallon calls “collaborative force management and sharing arrangements”, the UK and the US will once again apparently be sharing drones. Read more