MI5 warns Chinese government ‘agent’ has been ‘active’ in UK parliament, MPs


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MI5 has warned that a Chinese government agent has been working in parliament “to subvert the processes”, MPs have been told.

A letter was sent to MPs by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle who said MI5 warned him a woman called Christine Lee has been “engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, engaging with members here at parliament”.

MI5 sent out an “interference alert” warning Ms Lee has “facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China…done covertly to mask the origins of the payments”.

Labour frontbencher and former minister Barry Gardiner has been named as an MP who accepted large donations from the Chinese woman, and he confirmed her son was working for him but resigned today.

Labour MPs Richard Burgon (left) and Barry Gardiner take part in an anti government protest in Manchester, during the Conservative party's annual conference being held at the Manchester Central Convention Complex. Picture date: Sunday October 3, 2021.
Labour MP Barry Gardiner accepted donations from the woman, and her son was working for him

Longstanding investigation into Lee but warning is new

Home Secretary Priti Patel said a longstanding investigation into Ms Lee has been ongoing but Thursday’s revelations about her are “relatively new” and said what she has been engaging in “is currently under the criminal threshold but the alert puts MPs on notice”.

She denied the announcement today was to distract from calls for the prime minister to resign over Number 10 lockdown parties, saying it was MI5 and the parliamentary security services’ decision when to release the alert.

Ms Patel added there is ongoing work on what further measures the government can take, and this is something she is working on changing through the law.

Christine Lee ‘involved in political interference in UK’

MI5 said Ms Lee, a lawyer, has been involved with MPs and hopeful MPs as well as members of the now-disbanded all-party parliamentary group, Chinese in Britain.

In the alert, it said: “Lee has acted covertly in coordination with the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party (UFWD) and is judged to be involved in political interference activities in the UK.”

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‘This is a serious, serious issue’

Sir Lindsay told MPs if they have been approached by Ms Lee they should contact parliament’s director of security.

Ms Lee has been pictured over the years with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, talking to David Cameron in 2015 and was given a prize by Theresa May for “promoting engagement, understanding and cooperation between the Chinese community and wider UK society”.

The law firm she runs claims to be the “first and only” UK-Chinese law firm authorised by the Chinese Ministry of Justice as a foreign law firm to operate in China.

Donations to Labour and Lib Dem MPs

The MPs’ register of interests shows Ms Lee has made more than £700,000 in…

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