Alleged Chinese spy was advising MPs on Beijing before arrest

Alleged Chinese spy was advising MPs on Beijing before arrest

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London: British police have arrested a parliamentary aide who advised two Conservative MPs on China policy, alleging he was spying for Beijing.

The man is a British citizen who spent time living in China, according to The Sunday Times, which first reported the story.

Earlier this year, the House of Commons intelligence committee delivered a report saying the Chinese had infiltrated every level of British society.Credit: Bloomberg

The report said there were fears he had been turned into a Chinese mole while living and working in China, and that he had been ordered to return to Britain to infiltrate political circles.

The man advised Conservative MPs Tom Tugendhat, a Tory party leadership candidate who was recently promoted to be security minister, and his former factional ally Alicia Kearns, who won the contest to chair the House of Commons’ foreign affairs committee.

Conservative PM Tom Tugendhat.Credit:

Police said two men were arrested in March, but they are not due to face court until October.

“Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service arrested two men on March 13 on suspicion of offences under section 1 of the Official Secrets Act, 1911,” a spokesman said.

“A man in his 30s was arrested at an address in Oxfordshire and a man in his 20s was arrested at an address in Edinburgh. Searches were also carried out at both the residential properties, as well as at a third address in east London.

“Both men were taken to a south London police station, and were subsequently released on police bail until a date in early October.

“The investigation is being carried out by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, which has responsibility for investigations relating to allegations of Official Secrets Act and espionage-related offences.”

Kearns said on X (formerly known as Twitter) that she was aware of the report and would not be commenting. “While I recognise the public interest, we all have a duty to ensure any work of the authorities is not jeopardised,” she said.

Kearns and Tugendhat were members of an internal Tory Party pressure group called the China Research Group, formed to rival a cross-party grouping of more hawkish MPs led by former Conservative minister Iain Duncan Smith, called the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).

Luke De Pulford, a spokesman for the inter-parliamentary alliance, said the men arrested had no affiliation to his group.

“The suspect was a figure hostile to IPAC’s work and not involved with IPAC in any way,” he said.

“We urge authorities to reveal the name of the suspect, so as to avoid casting a wide web of suspicion in a community already strained by [China’s] transnational repression.”

He said IPAC was concerned that MPs were alerted to a potential spy at their place of work by the media, and not the authorities.

“Greater transparency and balanced information flows serve not only to protect potential targets but also to counter [China’s] goal of dividing and blunting those it perceives as critical,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Commons intelligence committee delivered a scathing report saying the Chinese had infiltrated every level of British society.

Last year, MI5 outed London lawyer Christine Lee as a Chinese agent who had made political donations to MPs in an attempt to corrupt them. Lee paid for her son and another researcher to work in the office of the former Labour frontbencher Barry Gardiner.

Lee was awarded a “Points of Light Award” by former prime minister Theresa May for community work, which included Lee’s non-governmental organisation the British Chinese Project.

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