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Christine Lee’s Lawyers Argue MI5 Was Wrong to Issue Agent Warning at Tribunal

Challenging MI5 at a special Investigatory Powers Tribunal is Christine Lee, who was publicly named as an agent of the Chinese Communist Party in Britain.

Claiming that an alert warning against a London-based lawyer was inaccurate and unjust, it has been argued at a tribunal that the notice contained “factual errors” and should not have been issued. MI5 had issued an interference alert in January 2022 against Christine Lee, labeling her as a suspected Chinese agent involved in “political interference activities” on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

During a hearing at the Investigatory Powers Tribunal on Monday, Ramby de Mello, the barrister representing Ms. Lee and her son Daniel Wilkes, contended that issuing the notice was “plainly wrong.” He stated, “Such a notice was unprecedented and as far as we are concerned it was the first time it was ever issued.” At the time, Mr. Wilkes was employed by Barry Gardiner, a former member of the shadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms. Lee has refuted the allegations and is taking legal action against MI5, also known as the Security Service, along with her son, who lost his job due to the alert. The pair argues that the alert violated their rights.

Allegations of Supporting CCP’s Agenda

The issued notice claimed that Ms. Lee was involved in facilitating financial donations to political figures and parties, cautioning that any contact with her should consider her links to the CCP and agenda for UK politics.

In a statement, Mr. de Mello mentioned that Ms. Lee had traveled to China and Hong Kong for business, meeting with Chinese officials and giving speeches critical of Hong Kong protesters using violence. However, he added that at that time, she was unaware that her activities could be considered threats to national security.

Ms. Lee’s legal team argued that the donations made to Mr. Gardiner primarily arose from profits of her law firm. They pointed out that after the alert, Ms. Lee experienced threats and abuse, leading her to seek refuge for extended periods.

During the hearing, Mr. Gardiner revealed that suggestions had been made that MI5 released the alert in January 2022 to divert attention from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s apology to Parliament over the Partygate scandal, which had unfolded a day earlier.

Controversy with MI5’s Actions

Victoria Wakefield, KC representing MI5, defended the decision to issue the interference alert as a protective measure to safeguard national security and uphold parliamentary democracy. She argued that the assessment of Ms. Lee’s risk and the subsequent issuing of the alert were rational and lawful.

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal, an impartial judiciary body, provides recourse for individuals who believe they have been unlawfully targeted by public authorities using covert investigative methods. The hearing is set to conclude on Tuesday, with a judgment expected later in the year. PA Media contributed to this report.

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