MI5 warns Chinese spy has been active in Parliament

MI5 has warned an agent of the Chinese government has been active in the British Parliament, MPs have heard.

Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, raising a point of order, told the Commons: "I understand that Mr Speaker has been contacted by MI5 and is now warning members of Parliament that there has been an agent of the Chinese government active here in Parliament working with a Member of Parliament, obviously to subvert the processes here."

An MI5 notice named the suspected agent as Christine Lee, who the security service claims is "knowingly engaged in political interference on behalf of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)".

Her affiliations are said to include the China Overseas Friendship Association and the British-Chinese Project and she is listed as a donor for Labour MP Barry Gardiner. 

The security service claim Lee "acted covertly" and is "judged to be involved in political interference activities in the UK".

The warning continues: "Lee has been engaged in the facilitation of financial donations to political parties, parliamentarians, aspiring parliamentarians and individuals seeking political office in the UK, including facilitating donations to political entities on behalf of foreign nationals".

The Speaker’s office has confirmed that a warning notice has been issued in relation to the activities of a suspected Chinese agent.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, in a letter sent to MPs, warned that Christine Lee had been "engaged in political interference" for the Chinese Communist Party and sought to lobby parliamentarians including through a former all-party parliamentary group (APPG).

The letter said: "I am writing now to draw your attention to the attached Interference Alert issued by the Security Service, MI5, about the activities of an individual, Christine Lee, who has been engaged in political interference activities 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 should highlight the fact that Lee has facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China. This facilitation was done covertly to mask the origins of the payments. This is clearly unacceptable behaviour and steps are being taken to ensure it ceases.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to remind colleagues of their responsibilities to verify the source of any donation they receive to ascertain whether it is from a permissible source, and their obligation to record the source of donations in the Register of Interests, or report to the Electoral Commission as appropriate."

The letter urged MPs to report any approaches or concerns and said the Lord Speaker had also written to peers to warn them.

A spokeswoman for the Speaker’s office said: "The Speaker takes the security of Members and the democratic process very seriously, which is why he issued this notice in consultation with the security services. 

"There is no further comment on this matter."

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