Britain’s MI5 security agency has warned that an agent of the Chinese regime has been active in the UK Parliament.
An alert issued by the agency said an individual named Christine Ching Kui Lee has been “knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”
It said Lee has been facilitating financial donations to political parties and politicians, and warned that anyone contacted by her should be “mindful of her affiliation with the Chinese state and remit to advance the CCP’s agenda in UK politics.”
The alert was made public by Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the Conservative Party, who called it “a matter of grave concern.”
He called for Lee to be deported and demanded the government make a statement to the House of Commons.
Tobias Ellwood, a Conservative former minister who now chairs the Commons Defence Committee, said: “This is the sort grey-zone interference we now anticipate and expect from China. But the fact that it’s happened to this Parliament, there must be a sense of urgency from this government.”
According to MI5’s “Security Service Interference Alert” sent to Parliament, Lee has “acted covertly in co-ordination with the UFWD and is judged to be involved in political interference activities in the UK.”
It said: “We judge that the UFWD is seeking to covertly interfere in UK politics through establishing links with established and aspiring parliamentarians across the political spectrum. The UFWD 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.”
MI5 said Lee had 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.”
Although Lee has publicly stated that her activities are to “represent the UK Chinese community and increase diversity,” the security agency noted that her activities have been undertaken “in covert co-ordination with the UFWD, with funding provided by foreign nationals located in China and Hong Kong.”
It revealed that Lee has “extensive engagement with individuals across the UK political spectrum,” including through the All-Party Parliamentary Chinese in Britain Group, which has been disbanded.
Barry Gardiner, a Labour MP who received donations of more than £500,000 ($687,000) from Christine Lee between 2015 and 2020, said he had been “liaising with our security services” for many years about her.
He said the UK security services “have always known, and been made fully aware by me, of her engagement with my office and the donations she made to fund researchers in my office in the past.”
He said all the donations were properly reported and “their source verified at the time,” and added, “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 Christine Lee’s son, who had been employed as his diary manager, resigned earlier on Thursday, adding that the security services have advised him that “they have no intelligence that shows he was aware of, or complicit in, his mother’s illegal activity.”
Bob Seely, a Conservative MP who is a member of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said it is “clearly serious that there appear to be actual agents of a foreign, adversarial power in Parliament.”
“I do fear that we have been complacent about the threat posed by the Chinese communist regime,” he told the PA news agency.
PA Media contributed to this report.