He is the Birmingham solicitor at the center of a sensational alleged espionage plot worthy of a John Le Carré novel.
Christine Lee has been embedded in the city’s legal landscape for over 30 years, owning restaurants and campaigning for British Chinese interests through “integration, representation, participation and education”.
But now the venerable 58-year-old immigration lawyer has been named as an alleged Chinese agent, targeting lawmakers for making British policy more friendly to Beijing.
Read more: MI5 warns of Birmingham-based Chinese ‘spies’ – who is Christine Lee?
MI5 took the rare step of broadcasting a warning to lawmakers that Ms. Li, who runs the law firm Christine Lee & Company from the offices of Holloway Head, was involved in “political interference activities” on behalf of China’s ruling Communist regime.
The claims were angrily dismissed by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, who accused the UK government of being “too obsessed with James Bond 007 films”.
However, a No. 10 spokesperson clarified that the issue is being taken seriously and that ministers are committed to strengthening anti-espionage legislation through a new counter-state threat bill.
This is the surprising development of a woman with a long relationship from Birmingham. Believed to live in the Solihull area, in 2006 she posed for a Birmingham Mail photographer outside her Cathay Chinese restaurant in Holloway Head.
Five years ago, she described how her journey to the law was inspired by her personal experience of injustice at a boarding school in Belfast, where she immigrated from Hong Kong at the age of 11 and was unable to speak a word of English .
“I was emotionally abused by them,” she told the Birmingham Post in June 2001.
“They called me c****y and from a young age I was treated like a second-class citizen.”
After A Levels she moved to Birmingham to complete her legal studies and joined City Center Solicitor Lee Crowder.
She said she soon realized the side of the profession that most interested her was immigration law – an area that Lee Crowder did not deal with. So he left and started his own firm.
Ms. Lee said: “When I started working as an immigration attorney, it turned out that it was not only me who had these bad experiences. However, victims usually did not want to complain about it .
“The Chinese people are afraid of power. They don’t fight for their rights – they don’t really have that concept. I believe in fighting.
“I have developed the belief that we are in the UK but we are not second class citizens.
“Unfortunately Chinese people are very low profile. They don’t want to be heard. They just want to make a lot of money with their business.
“The community is very self-sufficient – whatever bothers their business bothers them.”
Ms. Lee found her influence growing alongside her growing legal reputation. She was pictured next to Fu Ying, the former UK ambassador to China, at a restaurant in the city in June 2007.
and was featured in Downing Street after the founding of the British Sugar Project, which describes itself as a “non-partisan, voluntary-run organization that seeks to elevate the UK Chinese community’s presence in the British political arena. “.
He also received an award from Theresa May for his work on a project promoting good relations between the Chinese and British communities in Britain, and was a VIP when David Cameron hosted President Xi Jinping in London. was a guest.
His company now also has offices in Soho, London and says it has served the British community for over 30 years with areas of expertise including immigration, family, landlord and tenant, commercial property, company and commercial transport .
A representative for the Birmingham firm declined to comment when contacted by Birmingham Live.
Birmingham Live also contacted the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
“We are aware of this issue and are gathering any relevant evidence,” a spokesperson said.
According to Companies House, Ms. Lee is currently listed as an active director at eight different firms – seven in Birmingham.
Among those accepting donations from Ms. Lee is senior Labor MP Barry Gardiner, who received more than £500,000 over six years to cover staffing costs in her office as well as appointing her son as her diary manager. .
Earlier, the security minister, Damien Hinds, had indicated that a review would be taken into how Ms. Lee came so close to senior politicians.
Asked on LBC whether there will be a review of the way it operates, he said: “Yes. We are learning all the time, all the implications have to be taken into account.”
However, officials later indicated that he was merely pointing to the fact that the situation was under review.
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