MPs received a warning about a spy threat from a woman who MI5 said was trying to influence British politicians on behalf of China.
House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle in a letter to MPs warned Christine Lee had been “engaged in political interference” for the Communist Party of China and sought to pressure parliamentarians.
The letter said, “I must stress that Lee has facilitated financial donations to sitting and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China. “
The President added: “This facilitation was done secretly to hide the origin of the payments. This is clearly unacceptable behavior and steps are being taken to ensure that it stops. “
Labor MP Barry Gardiner confirmed he had received donations from Ms Lee and said he had been in contact with intelligence services “for a number of years” about the lawyer.
“They have always known, and have been fully informed by me, of her engagement with my office and of the donations she has made to fund researchers in my office in the past,” Mr. Gardiner said.
The Labor MP also revealed Ms Lee’s son had acted as director of her newspaper – but the staff member resigned on Thursday morning.
Mr Gardiner said MI5 had informed him “that he had no information showing that he was aware of or complicit in his mother’s illegal activity”.
The former Labor MP said Ms Lee stopped funding workers in her office in June 2020. The MP said the donations were properly reported to parliamentary authorities and he had “not personally benefited from those donations. in any way “.
The MI5 security warning – details of which were first published in The sun Thursday – named Ms Lee as a lawyer suspected of being “knowingly engaged in political interference” in the UK.
The alert issued stated that Ms. Lee “acted secretly” in coordination with the United Front Labor Department of the Communist Party of China (CCP).
He said she had engaged with “individuals from across the political spectrum in Britain” – including through the now-dissolved Chinese All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in Britain – and may “aspire to establish d ‘other APPGs to advance the agenda of the CCP’.
Senior Conservative MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith raised the issue in the Commons on Thursday and called for an overhaul of the accreditation process “because it is clearly too lenient”.
The former leader of the Conservative Party told MPs: “This is a matter of serious concern,” adding: “Why is such an agent allowed in this country?”
He added, “I am one of those who have done a lot to help the Chinese in Hong Kong to flee. Here in the UK we have names and numbers of people. And that leaves me to fear that some of them have been consulted by such a person. It would be their lives and their families in danger. “
In 201, then Prime Minister Theresa May awarded Ms Lee a Points of Light Award for her work with the British Chinese Project, a group aimed at promoting engagement between the Chinese community and British society within the meaning large.
In a personal letter to Ms Lee – the founder of the organization – Ms May said: “You should be very proud of the difference the British Chinese Project is making”.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron was also pictured addressing a British Chinese Project event in a photo the organization posted online in 2016.
Ms Lee was also pictured speaking to former Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Deputy Party Leader Tom Watson during a UK Chinese project at a separate event in 2016.
Interior Minister Priti Patel said it was “deeply concerning” that an individual “who knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Communist Party of China targeted parliamentarians. “.
The minister said that the government’s “future measures” “would counter such threats will build on the strong safeguards already in place, making our country even more difficult for states to carry out hostile activities.”
Human rights activist Luke from Pulford said The independent: “It’s not a surprise for us. A very close relationship between the Chinese Embassy and parliamentary figures has long been suspected. It just goes to show that democracy can be overthrown by this sort of thing. “
Mr de Pulford supported Sir Iain’s call for root and branch control of all people working in MPs’ offices. “I think we need to clarify the interests of people working for MPs,” said Mr de Pulford.
The independent has contacted Christine Lee’s office and the British Chinese Project for comment.