MI5 issues urgent warning to MPs about Chinese ‘spy’ attempting to deprave British politicians

‘Clearly unacceptable behaviour’: MI5’s unprecedented e mail to MPs

The security providers issued a uncommon warning to MPs and friends amid fears an agent of the Chinese authorities has been lively in Parliament.

On Thursday a Security Service Interference Alert was issued by MI5 containing allegations about Christine Ching Kui Lee after issues were raised that she was not being open about her connections to the Chinese state and should have ulterior motives for her involvement with parliamentarians.

While it is not the first time such an alert has been issued, official warnings of this nature are relatively rare.

The letter from the Speaker accompanying the alert mentioned: ‘I am writing now to draw your consideration to the connected Interference Alert issued by the Security Service, MI5, concerning the actions of an individual, Christine Lee, who has been engaged in political interference actions on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, partaking with Members here at Parliament and associated political entities, together with the previous APPG: Chinese in Britain.

‘I ought to highlight the truth that Lee has facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring Parliamentarians on behalf of international nationals based mostly in Hong Kong and China. 

‘This facilitation was done covertly to mask the origins of the funds. 

‘This is clearly unacceptable behaviour and steps are being taken to ensure it ceases.’

In the masking letter, Sir Lindsay mentioned the MPs she contacted included members of the now disbanded Chinese in Britain All Party Parliamentary Group. Chaired by Mr Gardiner, different members included Labour’s Keith Vaz, Stephen Pound, Faisal Rashid and Gareth Thomas, together with Tory David Morris.

Parliament was hit by a significant safety alert right now as spooks warned MPs that a Labour donor with links to a former minister was a Chinese spy. 

Christine Lee, 58, has been monitored by the safety companies for a while, parliamentarians have been advised in a bombshell email this afternoon.

She has not been arrested and is not being expelled because it stands, but a warning memo was sent to all MPs and friends in Westminster today by the Speaker’s Parliamentary security group.

An connected alert stated the a twice-married mother of two who lives in the affluent Birmingham suburb of Coleshill, was ‘knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party’. No politicians are suspected of any criminality.

Ms Lee, is a former chief authorized adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. She is also the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group at Westminster. 

She has donated more than £500,000 to Jeremy Corbyn ally Barry Gardiner, together with around £200,000 used to pay staff ages. 

Her son, Daniel Wilkes, labored in his office and Mr Gardiner confirmed he had resigned today, that means he has had privileged access to the Parliamentary property with a workers pass. There isn’t any suggestion he was concerned in his mother’s activities.

Mr Gardiner has been supportive of China’s attempts to get extra concerned in Britain’s nuclear industry, together with the Hinkley Point energy plant. 

She is also reported to have donated tons of of thousands of pounds extra to different elements of the Labour Party. Questions were first asked about her funding 5 years ago but no action was taken. 

As well as embarrassment for Labour Ms Lee’s agency also donated £5,000 to the Liberal Democrats in 2005 and one other £5,000 to now get together leader Ed Davey in 2013, when he was power minister in the coalition government.

She additionally has hyperlinks to the Conservatives.  She appears to have additionally developed an excellent relationship with David Cameron whereas he was prime minister. And in January 2019, she received a Points of Light Award from then premier Theresa May, in recognition of her contribution to good relations with China via the British Chinese Project.  

Conservative former chief Sir Iain Duncan Smith informed MPs this afternoon that he understood MI5 had contacted Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle in regards to the matter.   

He said: ‘They key concern here is I perceive that Mr Speaker has been contacted by MI5 and is now warning members of Parliament that there was an agent of the Chinese government active here in Parliament working with a Member of Parliament, obviously to subvert the processes right here.

‘I say, as a Member of Parliament who has been sanctioned by the Chinese authorities, that this is a matter of grave concern.’

In a press release at present Mr Gardiner stated he had been in touch with MI5 ‘for a selection of years about Christine Lee they usually have at all times identified, and been made totally conscious by me, of her engagement with my office and the donations she made to fund researchers in my workplace up to now.’

Home Secretary Priti Patel stated it was ‘deeply regarding’ that a person ‘who has knowingly engaged in political interference actions on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party has targeted parliamentarians’ but the UK has measures in place ‘to identify international interference’.   

Parliamentarians were told Christine Lee has been monitored by the security services for some time but has not been arrested and is not being expelled as it stands.

Parliamentarians were informed Christine Lee has been monitored by the security services for some time however has not been arrested and is not being expelled because it stands. 

A warning memo was sent to all MPs and Peers in Westminster today by the Speaker's Parliamentary security team, and no politicians are suspected of any criminality.

A warning memo was despatched to all MPs and Peers in Westminster right now by the Speaker’s Parliamentary security group, and no politicians are suspected of any criminality.

Ms Lee, a London-based solicitor and a former chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London, speaking to former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. She is also the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group at Westminster.

Ms Lee, a London-based solicitor and a former chief authorized adviser to the Chinese embassy in London, chatting with former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. She can be the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group at Westminster.

A warning memo was sent to all MPs and peers in Westminster today by the Speaker's Parliamentary security team, with an attached alert saying Ms Lee, pictured here with former London mayor Ken Livingstone (second left) in 2012, was 'knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party'

A warning memo was sent to all MPs and friends in Westminster right now by the Speaker’s Parliamentary security staff, with an connected alert saying Ms Lee, pictured here with former London mayor Ken Livingstone (second left) in 2012, was ‘knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party’

A photo of Ms Lee in front of 10 Downing Street in 2019 shows the iconic door draped with red banners displaying New Year couplets in Chinese characters and announcing the 'Golden Era' of Sino-British relations. She is accompanied by Alex Yip, a Tory councillor in Birmingham and vice-chairman of the British Chinese Project

A photograph of Ms Lee in entrance of 10 Downing Street in 2019 shows the enduring door draped with purple banners displaying New Year couplets in Chinese characters and saying the ‘Golden Era’ of Sino-British relations. She is accompanied by Alex Yip, a Tory councillor in Birmingham and vice-chairman of the British Chinese Project 

She is a west London solicitor who has donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to former Labour minister Barry Gardiner (right, pictured in 2013).

She is a west London solicitor who has donated tons of of 1000’s of kilos to former Labour minister Barry Gardiner (right, pictured in 2013).

Christine Lee: How ‘lawyer’s’ involvement in British politics date again to prime ministership of Tony Blair

Christine Lee is a solicitor whose firm has workplaces in Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, in addition to London.

Her links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) go deep. She has been chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a authorized adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, an agency of the Communist Party’s huge community of influence overseen by its United Front Work Department.

These positions are unmistakable signs of her importance to the Party. Yet she can be the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group of the British parliament.

In 2006 she founded the British Chinese Project, whose acknowledged aim is to ’empower the UK Chinese neighborhood, making them aware of their democratic rights and responsibilities, while ensuring the wants and interests of the community are heard at a political stage’. It sounds a very worthy multicultural enterprise

But its Chinese name has totally different echoes. It interprets as ‘British Chinese Participation in Politics’, linking it to the huaren canzheng infiltration policy of the CCP to maximise political influence in democracies by promoting trusted people of Chinese heritage. 

Lee’s involvement in British politics began in the course of the prime ministership of Tony Blair, when she fashioned an alliance with Labour MP and minister Barry Gardiner, extra lately Labour’s shadow international commerce secretary.

Her law agency donated more than £200,000 to the MP and his constituency party. In 2007, while a Blair government minister, Gardiner turned the chair of her British Chinese Project and the 2 of them launched into a programme of creating friends in Westminster, boosted by Gardiner’s formation in 2011 of ‘an all-party group to symbolize Chinese residents in Britain’.

One of Lee’s children, Michael Wilkes, became its vice chairman whereas one other son, Daniel, worked in Gardiner’s parliamentary workplace, with his wage paid by his mother’s agency.

The agency defended these political hyperlinks when approached in 2020, saying: ‘Christine Lee & Co is proud of its record of public service and the support it has provided to the democratic process. We have never sought to influence any politician improperly or to seek any favours in return for the help that we’ve offered.’

Gardiner mentioned her son had volunteered in his workplace before securing employment through an open appointment course of and that he had never been ‘improperly requested by, or influenced by’ the firm in his political work.

He added: ‘Christine Lee’s son volunteered in my office many years ago and was subsequently employed by me as a diary supervisor. 

‘He resigned from my employment earlier today. The Security Services have suggested me that they don’t have any intelligence that shows he was conscious of, or complicit in, his mother’s criminal activity.

‘I will proceed to work carefully with our safety services in this and all other issues that relate to the safety of our country.’

Her Birmingham-based legislation agency donated more than £200,000 to the MP and his constituency celebration. In 2007, whereas a Blair government minister, Gardiner turned the chair of her British Chinese Project.

A photograph of Ms Lee in front of 10 Downing Street reveals the enduring door draped with pink banners displaying New Year couplets in Chinese characters and announcing the ‘Golden Era’ of Sino-British relations. 

A Daily Mail investigation in 2020 revealed Mr Gardiner benefited from greater than £500,000 support from Ms Lee’s agency.

According to the Commons Register of Interests, since 2015 Mr Gardiner has obtained £542,000 in staff costs from Christine Lee & Co. 

Today’s email from the Speaker to MPs stated: ‘I am writing now to draw your consideration to the hooked up Interference Alert issued by the Security Service, MI5, in regards to the activities of an individual, Christine Lee, who has been engaged in political interference actions on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, engaging with Members here at Parliament and associated political entities, including the former APPG: Chinese in Britain.

‘I ought to spotlight the fact that Lee has facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring Parliamentarians on behalf of international nationals primarily based in Hong Kong and China. This facilitation was accomplished covertly to mask the origins of the payments. This is clearly unacceptable behaviour and steps are being taken to make sure it ceases.’ 

Conservative former defence minister Tobias Ellwood also told the chamber: ‘This is the sort grey-zone interference we now anticipate and anticipate from China.

‘But the truth that it is occurred to this Parliament, there should be a sense of urgency from this Government.’

He additionally asked for a Government statement to be made on Thursday to enable MPs to know the impression of the actions and the meant response.  

In 2019 Ms Lee was awarded a Ray Of Light Award by Ms May for her work with the British Chinese Project.

In a personal message, Ms May stated: ‘You should really feel very proud of the difference that ‘The British Chinese Project’ is making in promoting engagement, understanding, and cooperation between the Chinese and British communities within the UK. 

‘I additionally want you nicely with your work to further the inclusion and participation of British-Chinese folks within the UK political system.’ 

This afternoon Tory MP Bob Seely, who’s a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed concern that a Chinese agent appeared to have been operating in Parliament.

‘It’s clearly critical that there seem like actual brokers of a overseas, adversarial energy in Parliament. I congratulate MI5 on their work,’ he advised the PA information agency.

‘However, I do fear that we now have been complacent concerning the menace posed by the Chinese Communist regime, in a lot the identical way that we were and in some respects nonetheless are complacent about Russian affect peddling within the UK.

‘We should keep in mind that co-opting, subverting and corrupting in right now’s world is usually carried out not by way of formal agents, but usually via casual brokers: individuals such as highly effective business folks and oligarchs, suppose tanks, through the funding of universities and using ‘lawfare’, etc.

‘This is why we’d like a comprehensive method to Russia and China that understands the comprehensive nature of the issue. We are bettering but we want to do extra.’

The alert comes per week after the pinnacle of MI6 thanked China’s state information agency for ‘free publicity’ after it launched a mock video ridiculing the UK’s growing interest in Beijing.

Former PM David Cameron addresses a British Chinese Project event in a photo posted in 2016

Former PM David Cameron addresses a British Chinese Project event in a photo posted in 2016

Pictures posted to Facebook show Ms Lee with prominent politicians including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, deputy Tom Watson and disgraced ex-MP Keith Vaz

Pictures posted to Facebook show Ms Lee with distinguished politicians including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, deputy Tom Watson and disgraced ex-MP Keith Vaz

A spoof James Bond video (pictured) made by China's state news agency backfired after the head of MI6 thanked them for the 'free publicity' last week

A spoof James Bond video (pictured) made by China’s state information agency backfired after the head of MI6 thanked them for the ‘free publicity’ final week

BARRY GARDINER: SECURITY SERVICES HAVE KNOWN ABOUT LEE FOR YEARS 

Statement from Barry Gardiner on the Security Service Interference Alert.

Today the Parliamentary Security Director issued a Security Service Interference Alert in relation to Christine Lee and her attempts to engage in political interference on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.

I have been liaising with our Security Services for numerous years about Christine Lee and they have always known, and been made absolutely conscious by me, of her engagement with my workplace and the donations she made to fund researchers in my office up to now. Steps had been taken to make sure Christine Lee had no function in both the appointment or administration of those researchers. They are also conscious that I truly have not benefitted personally from those donations in any means. She ceased funding any staff in my office in June 2020.

All the donations have been correctly reported within the register of members’ pursuits and their source verified on the time. I actually have been assured by the Security Services that while they have definitively identified improper funding channelled via Christine Lee, this does not relate to any funding acquired by my workplace.

Christine Lee’s son volunteered in my workplace many years in the past and was subsequently employed by me as a diary manager. He resigned from my employment earlier today. The Security Services have suggested me that they haven’t any intelligence that reveals he was aware of, or complicit in, his mom’s criminality.

I will proceed to work intently with our safety services on this and all different matters that relate to the safety of our country.

 

In a uncommon public comment, Richard Moore issued a light-hearted riposte to the James Bond satire posted by China’s Xinhua News. 

The video mocked the Western intelligence community’s concentrate on China, poking fun at its alleged propaganda capabilities and the Huawei technology fall-out.

Mr Moore – codenamed C – responded on Twitter: ‘Thank you in your curiosity (and the unexpected free publicity!)’

The spy chief additionally included a hyperlink to a speech he made final November by which he accused China of mounting large-scale espionage operations in opposition to the UK and its allies. 

In the speech, he said that adapting to a world more and more dominated by China’s influence was the ‘single greatest precedence for MI6’.

Mr Moore also warned about China’s use of ‘debt traps’, in which growing international locations settle for Beijing’s infrastructure loans only to ultimately cede management as they wrestle with repayments.

The tongue-in-cheek video posted on Twitter by Xinhua options two Chinese actors enjoying British spies called ‘James Pond’ and ‘Black Window’. 

In the video they poke fun at Mr Moore’s description of China because the UK’s top safety menace. 

Entitled ‘No Time to Die Laughing’, a reference to last year’s James Bond film No Time to Tie, the clip shows the pair coming into a citadel where they discuss a dossier on China’s espionage techniques.

Pond, codenamed ‘Agent 0.07’, says: ‘Is there something China would not watch over?’

Alongside canned laughter, Pond describes the ‘fictional Chinese debt lure and information lure’ as a pathetic excuse to get more funding for British intelligence.

In 2020, the UK infuriated China by banning the know-how company from supplying equipment to the 5G telephone network.

Xinhua, which was set up by China Communist Party in 1931 as its press outlet, operates under close Government control.

In his current speech on the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mr Moore warned China was utilizing social media platforms to ‘facilitate their operations’.

He added: ‘We are concerned by the Chinese authorities’s try and distort public discourse and political choice making throughout the globe.’

What is the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party?

In simple terms the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Chinese Communist Party is an organisation used by Beiing to exert influence abroad.

Today’s Security Service Interference Alert issued by MI5 to MPs said it had judged that the UFWD is ‘in search of to covertly intervene in UK politics via establishing links with established and aspiring parliamentarians across the political spectrum’. 

The alert said that the UFWD ‘seeks to domesticate relationships with influential figures in order to ensure the UK political landscape is favourable to the CCP’s agenda and to problem people who increase concerns about CCP exercise, such as human rights’. 

The fashionable model of the UFWD was established in 1979.

But its efforts and capacity are said to have elevated through the presidency of Xi Jinping. 

The UFWD reviews directly to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party which is made up of the party’s most senior figures. 

The organisation, which reportedly has more than 40,000 personnel, focuses its work on people who find themselves outside the get together and seeks to make sure that people or groups overseas are supportive of the Beijing regime. 

It also goals to divide critics of the Chinese government.  

The work of the UFWD was examined in a report printed by the White House in May 2020 which checked out what the US strategic method ought to be in the direction of China. 

The report acknowledged: ‘CCP United Front organisations and agents target companies, universities, think tanks, students, journalists, and local, state, and Federal officers in the United States and around the world, making an attempt to affect discourse and prohibit exterior affect contained in the PRC (People’s Republic of China). 

An August 2018 report published by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, an unbiased agency of the US government, said the UFWD ‘has an essential international affect mission’. 

It said: ‘China makes use of what it calls “United Front” work to co-opt and neutralize sources of potential opposition to the insurance policies and authority of its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

‘The CCP’s United Front Work Department (UFWD)— the agency answerable for coordinating these sorts of affect operations—mostly focuses on the management of potential opposition groups inside China, however it also has an essential international affect mission.’

Christine Lee:  Twice married-mother, lawyer and ‘spy’: How ‘Tiger girl’ was lauded for promoting China’s pursuits in the west … so had been MPs her ‘helpful idiots’ ?

To the casual observer, Christine Lee, 58, would appear to be a decent British solicitor whose agency additionally has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, London and Birmingham.

But she was described two years in the past by eminent authors Professor Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg as certainly one of numerous so-called ‘Tiger Women’ with Anglo-Chinese heritage dedicated to selling China’s pursuits in the west.

Hidden Hand: how the Chinese Communist Party covertly influences the West, revealed in 2020 that officers had for years been cultivating contacts at the prime of British politics and business.

The guide claimed senior politicians – on both the Right and the Left – were acting as ‘useful idiots’ to push the Chinese line on the top of presidency.

And it appears little has modified since then.

Lee’s hyperlinks to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) go deep. She has been chief authorized adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, an agency of the Communist Party’s huge network of influence overseen by its United Front Work Department.

Lee’s links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) go deep. She has been chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, an agency of the Communist Party's vast network of influence overseen by its United Front Work Department.

Lee’s links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) go deep. She has been chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a authorized adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, an company of the Communist Party’s huge community of affect overseen by its United Front Work Department.

Ms Lee is a solicitor with an office in central London. She is a former chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office.

Ms Lee is a solicitor with an workplace in central London. She is a former chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a authorized adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office.

In January 2019, she received a Points of Light Award from then premier Theresa May, in recognition of her contribution to good relations with China.

In January 2019, she received a Points of Light Award from then premier Theresa May, in recognition of her contribution to good relations with China.

These positions are, the authors argued, unmistakable indicators of her significance to the Party. Yet she was additionally the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group of the British parliament.

Many are also in the 48 Group Club, nicknamed the ‘icebreakers’, a networking hub arrange within the 1950s by members of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Hamilton Ohlberg claimed this group is likely one of the most glaring examples of the way ‘Beijing courts Britain’s elites’.

Lord Heseltine and Lord Prescott are each listed as patrons of the group but Lord Heseltine said he didn’t assume anybody would consider he was part of a Communist conspiracy.

The book’s authors stated: ‘In our judgement, so entrenched are the CCP’s affect networks amongst British elites that Britain has handed the purpose of no return, and any attempt to extricate itself from Beijing’s orbit would probably fail.’

In 2006 Lee founded the British Chinese Project (BCP), whose acknowledged purpose is to ’empower the UK Chinese community, making them aware of their democratic rights and obligations, while ensuring the wants and interests of the group are heard at a political stage’.

It sounded a really worthy multicultural enterprise But its Chinese title has totally different echoes. It translates as ‘British Chinese Participation in Politics’, linking it to the huaren canzheng infiltration policy of the CCP to maximise political affect in democracies by selling trusted individuals of Chinese heritage.

Lee had apparently been married 5 years earlier in Birmingham earlier than she wed British solicitor Martin Wilkes in Solihull, West Midlands in 1990.

Their elder son Michael, 30, – now additionally a solicitor – was born in 1991 and his brother Daniel, 27, in 1994 and the family lived in the leafy Birmingham suburb of Coleshill. Both sons had been born in Birmingham.

Martin Wilkes is listed, along with Ms Lee, as a director of Christine Lee & Co (Solicitors) Ltd. Other solicitor administrators named in Companies House documents are David Tat Wai Ho and Jennifer Ho.

Political website Guido Fawkes reported that Lee ran BCP alongside her son Michael and in 2015 the pair congratulated Tory MP Alan Mak for his victory within the General Election, referring to ‘our Chinese candidates’.

Mr Mak – now a authorities whip – advised Guido he had ‘never met [and] never spoke with [Lee]’, including the BCP have been a ‘unhealthy bunch’ who he’d ‘at all times stayed away from’.

Lee’s involvement in British politics began in the course of the prime ministership of Tony Blair, when she shaped an alliance with Labour MP and minister Barry Gardiner, more just lately Labour’s shadow worldwide commerce secretary.

Her regulation agency donated more than £500,000 to the MP and his constituency celebration. In 2007, while a Blair government minister, Gardiner became the chair of her British Chinese Project and the 2 of them launched into a programme of making associates in Westminster, boosted by Gardiner’s formation in 2011 of ‘an all-party group to symbolize Chinese residents in Britain’.

One of Lee’s youngsters, Michael Wilkes, turned its vice chairman while another son, Daniel, worked in Gardiner’s parliamentary office, with his salary paid by his mother’s agency.

The firm defended these political links in 2020, saying: ‘Christine Lee & Co is pleased with its document of public service and the assist it has provided to the democratic course of. We have never sought to influence any politician improperly or to seek any favours in return for the assist that we have provided.’

Mr Gardiner said on the time her son had volunteered in his office before securing employment via an open appointment process and that he had never been ‘improperly requested by, or influenced by’ the agency in his political work.

He issued an analogous statement at present, although adding this time that Daniel Wilkes had resigned from the MP’s workplace this morning.

The MP has been a powerful advocate of closer Sino-British relations. and investment in Britain by China’s sovereign wealth fund. He backed the development of a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point by a state-owned Chinese company, which Theresa May’s government placed on maintain because of considerations about national security.

He can be reported as having strongly opposed inner get together criticism of Chinese involvement within the Hinkley Point challenge.

Lee appeared to develop an excellent relationship with David Cameron while he was prime minister. In January final yr, she acquired a Points of Light Award from Prime Minister May, in recognition of her contribution to good relations with China.

A photo of Lee in entrance of 10 Downing Street confirmed the enduring door draped with pink banners displaying New Year couplets in Chinese characters and announcing the ‘Golden Era’ of Sino-British relations. The symbolism is blunt and highly effective: Lee on the heart of Britain’s government, being embraced by it.

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