The divided city of Berlin wasa hotbed of spying activity throughout the Cold War, with one famous operation involving atunnel being built by the British and US into Communist East Berlin to enablecommunications cables to be tapped.
Russia's KGB knew about the tunnel thanks to the treachery of George Blake, but did not take action against it in order to protect their mole in British intelligence.
In the 1950s, the US National Security Agency (NSA) used Berlin's highest hill, the Teufelsberg, as a listening station.
The site was frequently used by American soldiers and its five large satellite domes on top of the building, though unused, can still be seen today.
A listening postalleged to have been operating on the roof of the British Embassy in Berlincould have been used to gather economic and political intelligence to benefitthe UK, an expert has suggested.
Spying on "friendly" countries occurs throughout the world as nations attempt to gain an advantage over rivals and there are "big stakes at play", Professor Richard Aldrich said.
Warwick University's professor of international security said the kind of activity allegedly carried out by the British in the heart of Berlin's political district was "pretty universal".
He said: "This stuff is so ubiquitous and we now have documentary evidence to show that Britain regularly runs covert listening stations out of embassies and consulates, as does everybody else."
Allegations surrounding National Security Agency (NSA) spying derived from fugitive whistleblower, Edward Snowden, and overshadowed last month's European Council summit.
At his post-summit press conference, Prime Minister David Cameron refused to be drawn on whether the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) was spying on EU allies through its Tempora programme of internet surveillance, saying only that the agency operated within a proper legal framework.
He did emphasise that Britain shared its intelligence extensively with EU partners, and he echoed recent comments by MI5 director-general Andrew Parker condemning the way its efforts were being jeopardised by leaks.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman has confirmed Britain's Berlin ambassador, Simon McDonald, attended a meeting with a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "at their invitation" this afternoon.
In a statement this afternoon, the Foreign Ministry said any incident of "interception of communications" is "contrary to international law".
It suggests leaked documents by the US National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden, show the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is operating a network of spy posts from diplomatic buildings around the worlld, alongside the US and other key partners.
The German Foreign Office has said "tapping communication" from a British embassy in Berlin is a "violation of international law".
Germany's foreign minister has summoned the British ambassador over reports of spying from the British embassy in Berlin, Reuters reports, citing the foreign ministry.
The former home secretary David Blunkett said Britain's intelligence laws should be reviewed in the wake of the eavesdropping row, to stop spy agencies getting "carried away".
Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Blunkett said:
"Human nature is you get carried away, so we have to protect ourselves from ourselves. In Government you are pressed by the security agencies. They come to you with very good information and they say, 'You need to do something'.
"So you do need the breath of scepticism, not cynicism, breathing on them. You need to be able to take a step back.
"If you don't have this, you can find yourself being propelled in a particular direction."
He said a high-level review by specialists was the best way to update laws.