Britain’s domestic intelligence service has warned lawmakers that a London-based lawyer is trying to “covertly interfere in UK politics” on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.
House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle on Thursday sent legislators an alert from the MI5 spy agency alleging that Christine Lee was acting in coordination with the Chinese party’s United Front Work Department.
MI5 said Lee had facilitated donations to British political parties and legislators, “including facilitating donations to political entities on behalf of foreign nationals.”
It said the United Front Work Department “seeks to cultivate relationships with influential figures in order to ensure the UK political landscape is favourable to the CCP’s agenda and to challenge those that raise concerns about CCP activity, such as human rights.”
Members of Parliament are required to declare the source of donations they receive, which must be from UK-registered electors or entities.
Labour Party lawmaker Barry Gardiner said in a statement that he had received donations from Lee in the past to fund researchers in his office.
Gardiner said he had been “liaising” with British security services for years about Lee.
“I have been assured by the Security Services that whilst they have definitively identified improper funding channelled through Christine Lee, this does not relate to any funding received by my office,” Gardiner said.
Gardiner also said Lee’s son worked in his office as a diary manager, but resigned on Thursday.
“The Security Services have advised me that they have no intelligence that shows he was aware of, or complicit in, his mother’s illegal activity,” Gardiner said.
Lee’s firm, Christine Lee & Co., says on its website that it has “developed strong affiliations between the U.K. and China” and has acted as a legal advisor to the Chinese embassy in London.
Lee’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Relations between Britain and China had grown increasingly frosty, with UK officials accusing Beijing of economic subterfuge and human rights abuses. In November the head of the MI6 overseas intelligence agency, Richard Moore, called China one of the biggest threats to Britain and its allies.