LONDON — Britain's intelligence agency called allegations that it wiretapped President Trump during the U.S. election campaign, "utterly ridiculous" claims "that should be ignored."
The statement by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which hardly ever responds to allegations about its spying activities, came after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeated a claim first made on Fox News in a press briefing Thursday.
Spicer read out a statement he said that former judge and legal analyst Andrew Napolitano made on Fox News on Tuesday: "Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command. He didn't use the NSA, he didn't use the CIA, he didn't use the FBI and he didn't use the Department of Justice, he used GCHQ."
"Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct 'wire tapping' against the then President Elect are nonsense,” GCHQ said in a statement.
James Slack, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May, said the White House had assured the British government that the allegations would not be repeated.
"We've made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and they should be ignored," he said, according to the Independent.
Slack said the situation would not damage the "special relationship" between the two countries, the Independent added.
GCHQ’s denial came after the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday flatly refuted Trump's claims that his New York offices were wiretapped by the Obama administration before November's election.
“Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016," Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a joint statement.
The rebuke came a day after the House Intelligence Committee offered a similar assessment, leaving the White House virtually alone in asserting the surveillance claim.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson
(© 2017 USA TODAY)