Saturday, 15 February 2020 13:52

UK protests leak from Australian meeting on Huawei policy Featured

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

The British High Commissioner to Australia has lodged a formal complaint with the heads of two Australian parliamentary committees over the leaking of details from a meeting held by UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab with Australian politicians over London's Huawei policy, the ABC reports.

Details of the meeting, which took place on 6 February, were splashed in Nine Entertainment's newspapers on 7 February, with the headline "Australian MP delivers stunning rebuke to UK's Dominic Raab on Huawei".

The report, written by London-based reporter Latika Bourke, quoted Labor backbencher Anthony Byrne of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, as telling Raab: "How would you feel if the Russians laid down infrastructure in your own networks? That's how we feel about Huawei."

His reference was to the UK decision, taken on 28 January, to allow the Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor to supply up to 35% of gear for non-core parts of the country's 5G networks.

The US had pushed Britain repeatedly not to give Huawei a role. Australia tried to push the UK on this score too. Recently, four pollies — PJCIS head Andrew Hastie, Liberal MPs James Patterson and Tim Wilson, and Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching — also put in a word about keeping Huawei out.

raab tweet

Raab met Hastie, Byrne and Liberal Senator David Fawcett, who heads the Foreign Affairs Committee during his visit. The British High Commissioner to Australia, Vicki Treadell, was also present.

The ABC said it had confirmed that Treadell had sent letters to Hastie and Fawcett, protesting about the leak from a supposedly private meeting.

Byrne was said to have told Raab, "I'll raise you my ASD [Australian Signals Directorate] against your GCHQ [Government Communications Headquarters]", one source at the meeting told the Nine newspapers.

This is the second time that the UK's closed-door discussions on Huawei policy have leaked. In April last year, following a meeting of the National Security Council, The Telegraph reported that Huawei would be given the role that was publicly announced last month.

An inquiry was instituted into how the leak had taken place and in May, then prime minister Theresa May sacked her defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson over the incident.


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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