Security warning for MPs after Chinese agent infiltrates Parliament
JANUARY 13, 2022
A security warning has been issued to MPs after a covert Chinese government agent with links to Labour MP Barry Gardiner infiltrated Parliament.
An alert from MI5 said suspected agent Christine Ching Kui Lee ‘established links’ with current and aspiring MPs acting in co-ordination with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The British security agency said Ms Lee had ‘acted covertly’ and is ‘judged to be involved in political interference activities in the UK’.
She gave financial donations to political parties, with funding coming from foreign nationals in China and Hong Kong.
Electoral Commission records show Ms Lee’s law firm Christine Lee & Co has given almost £430,000 in financial support to Labour MP Barry Gardiner since 2015.
Concerns about Ms Lee’s donations to Mr Gardiner were first reported by The Times in 2017.
Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle was contacted by MI5 and is now warning members of Parliament that there has been an agent of the Chinese government active in Parliament
The report said that the Labour MP for Brent North, who was then the shadow international trade secretary, also employed Ms Lee’s son in his Westminster office as a diary planner.
In a statement Mr Gardiner said Ms Lee’s son resigned ‘earlier today’ and had no knowledge of his mother’s activities, according to the security services.
He said he had been ‘liaising with our security services’ for many years about her.
In a statement he said: ‘They have always known, and been made fully aware by me, of her engagement with my office and the donations she made to fund researchers in my office in the past.
‘Steps were taken to ensure Christine Lee had no role in either the appointment or management of those researchers. They are also aware that I have not benefitted personally from those donations in any way. She ceased funding any workers in my office in June 2020.’
Electoral Commission records show Ms Lee’s law firm Christine Lee & Co has given almost £430,000 in financial support to Labour MP Barry Gardiner since 2015
He said all the donations were properly reported and ‘their source verified at the time’.
MI5 said anyone contacted by Ms Lee should be ‘mindful of her affiliation’ and its ‘remit to advance the CCP’s agenda’.
After the warning was emailed out to MPs by Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the House of Commons: ‘I understand that Mr Speaker has been contacted by MI5 and is now warning members of Parliament that there has been an agent of the Chinese government active here in Parliament working with a Member of Parliament, obviously to subvert the processes here.'
Sir Iain warned it was ‘a matter of grave concern’, calling for Ms Lee to be deported and demanding the Government made a statement to the House.
Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood also called for a statement in the Commons, adding: ‘This is the sort grey-zone interference we now anticipate and expect from China. But the fact that it’s happened to this Parliament, there must be a sense of urgency from this government.’
The Security Service Interference Alert regarding Ms Lee issued by MI5 said: ‘We judge that the UFWD [the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department] is seeking to covertly interfere in UK politics through establishing links with established and aspiring parliamentarians across the political spectrum.
‘The UFWD seeks to cultivate relationships with influential figures in order to ensure the UK political landscape is favourable to the CCP’s agenda and to challenge those that raise concerns about CCP activity, such as human rights.
The offices of Christine Lee and Co on Wardour Street, central London. An alert from MI5 said suspected agent Christine Ching Kui Lee ‘established links’ with current and aspiring MPs acting in co-ordination with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
It continued: ‘Lee has extensive engagement with individuals across the UK political spectrum. including through the now disbanded All-Party Parliamentary Chinese in Britain Group, and may aspire to establish further APPGs [All-Party Parliamentary Groups] to further the CCP’s agenda.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘I know it will be deeply concerning to many that an individual who has knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party has targeted parliamentarians.
‘Forthcoming measures to counter these kind of threats will build on the robust safeguards already in place, making our country even harder for states to conduct hostile activity in.
’It also emerged that Theresa May, when prime minister, gave Ms Lee a ‘Points of Light’ award for volunteering.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith told The Telegraph: ‘What was going on with the security services that the Prime Minister’s office didn’t know they were giving an award to someone under suspicion?’