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The Home Office has accused a wealthy Chinese couple of making political donations on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and banned them from re-entering the UK, it has emerged.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel informed the couple of the decision in March 2022, according to a legal document published recently by an immigration appeals tribunal.
The couple, whose identities are protected under an anonymity order, also had dealings with Christine Lee & Co Solicitors—the law firm founded by Christine Ching Kui Lee, who MI5 named as a CCP agent—the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruling (pdf) said.
The couple, a 60-year-old woman identified as C17 and her 62-year-old husband C18, were both from Guangdong, a southern Chinese province that borders Hong Kong. The family lives in Hong Kong and they had been in and out of the UK before the COVID-19 pandemic, the document shows.
C17 obtained in 2012 a Tier 1 Investor Visa, which required at least £1.7 million of investment in UK share capital or UK-registered companies.
According to the document, C17 told the tribunal she had withdrawn her investment in 2017 “as it was not doing well.”
C17 and the couple’s two younger sons had been granted indefinite leave to remain (ILR). C18 had limited leave to remain, and the couple’s eldest son, who attended school and university in the UK, has British citizenship.
C17 brought a two-bedroom flat in Cambridge, where the eldest son lived during his study. The flat was rented out from February last year, and the couple was “seriously considering” sending their youngest son to a school in England, the document said.
It said evidence given to the tribunal said C18 has “many companies” with some “200–300 employees” and over 10 secretaries.
The ruling included parts of Patel’s letters to the couple, informing them that Patel had “personally directed” they should be excluded from the UK due to “involvement in providing financial donations to UK political figures on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”
“We therefore deem your presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good,” the letters said, warning them they would be refused entry if they attempted to travel to the UK.
The letter to C18 also said his limited leave to remain had been cancelled.
It’s unclear which political figures they allegedly donated to.
The couple’s appeal of the decision was submitted late because they had not seen the letter until May last year; in the judgment handed down earlier this month, the SIAC deemed it would be unjust not to grant them extensions.
The document also noted that the couple had “dealt with Christine Lee & Co Solicitors on a number of occasions in relation to their own visas, entry clearance and leave to remain in the UK, as well as that of their children.”
The Home Office’s letters to bar the couple from the UK were sent two months after the MI5 named Lee in an unusual move.
The spy agency issued an alert in January last year, saying Lee had 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 had 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.”
A month after issuing the alert, MI5 Director General Ken McCallum said the agency was forced to name Lee as British law was too outdated to deal with a covert agent of a foreign power.
The Home Office declined to comment. Christine Lee & Co Solicitors didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.