Chinese spy infiltrated British parliament, according to MI5

Image of the British Parliament – AFP/Archives

The UK’s domestic intelligence service, MI5, has warned lawmakers that an alleged Chinese agent “carried out political interference activities” in Parliament, Westminster officials said on Thursday.

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle’s office confirmed it had emailed lawmakers to inform them of the case.

“The Speaker takes the security of deputies and the democratic process very seriously, for which he issued this notice in consultation with the security services,” said a spokeswoman for Hoyle.

The Chinese embassy in London has denied the allegations and said it has never needed or sought to “buy influence in any foreign parliament”.

“We are strongly opposed to the gimmick of defaming and intimidating the Chinese community in the UK,” he criticized.

The message identified the suspect as Christine Lee, saying she “carried out political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Labor Department of the Chinese Communist Party,” a body that seeks to maintain contact with non-party personalities or groups.

This London-based lawyer reportedly donated £200,000 ($275,000, €239,000) to Labor MP Barry Gardiner and hundreds of thousands to his party.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May – whose party has been accused of receiving millions of pounds from Russian donors – presented Lee with an award in 2019 in recognition of her contribution to China-UK ties.

Lee was also photographed with May’s predecessor, conservative David Cameron, at an event in 2015, and separately with former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“This facilitated financial donations to serving deputies and aspirants on behalf of foreigners based in Hong Kong and China,” according to Hoyle’s message. “It was done covertly to mask the origin of the payments.”

Following MI5’s warning of Lee’s activities, former conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, highly critical of Beijing, called for strong action.

Last year, China imposed sanctions on 10 people and organizations in the UK, including Duncan Smith, for what it called the spread of “lies and misinformation” about human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region (northwest China).

Lee was not detained or deported, but she was banned from Parliament, she said.

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