UK officials 'furious' over US leaks of Manchester attack

Photos apparently showing bloodstained fragments of the bomb were published

UK officials 'furious' over US leaks of Manchester attack

A logo of The New York Times on a computer | Image: Chan Long Hei/Zuma Press/PA Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May is to raise the issue of US leaks in relation to crucial intelligence about the Manchester bombing with US President Donald Trump.

The pair are meeting at a NATO summit in Brussels.

Senior British government ministers have described the leaks to the US media as "irritating" and "disappointing".

Photos, apparently showing bloodstained fragments of the bomb, appeared in The New York Times.

A British government source said: "We are furious. This is completely unacceptable.

"These images leaked from inside the US system will be distressing for victims, their families and the wider public.

"The issue is being raised at every relevant level by the British authorities with their US counterparts."

The BBC reports that, as a result of the leak, police investigating the bomb attack have stopped sharing information with the US.

The leak of intelligence to the US media has also angered British anti-terror police chiefs.

The UK's National Counter Terrorism Policing organisation has accused the US authorities of a breach of trust.

"We greatly value the important relationships we have with our trusted intelligence, law enforcement and security partners around the world," a spokesperson said.

"These relationships enable us to collaborate and share privileged and sensitive information that allows us to defeat terrorism and protect the public at home and abroad.

"When that trust is breached it undermines these relationships, and undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families.

"This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorised disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counter terrorism investigation."

"Obviously disappointing"

Earlier, the British Home Secretary Amber Rudd attacked the early release of Salman Abedi's name to the US media and said she had made "very clear" to her American counterparts that no further leaks should happen.

But later, after the leak of photos to The New York Times, the British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "It's obviously disappointing.

"This is a very fast moving investigation involving our security services tracking down as rapidly as possible who the accomplices to this terrorist were, as it's unlikely he did this all on his own, and establishing very quickly whether he's part of a network and indeed if further attacks are planned.

"To do that you need to be able to absolutely focus on getting to the rest of this network - if it is a larger network - as quickly as possible and that's not helped by any premature release of some of the details."

Meanwhile, CCTV images apparently show Abedi moments after he bought the rucksack used in his deadly attack.

One picture appeared to show a sales tag hanging from the backpack.

The images were taken in Manchester's Arndale shopping centre at around 8.00pm last Friday, three days before the bombing.

A vivid blue flash of the rucksack's inner lining matches crime scene pictures published by The New York Times.

The issue of the leaks will be raised when Mrs May and Mr Trump will meet to discuss, amongst other things, counter-terrorism.