The home secretary has said it is likely that there will be more, such as the national security alert issued by the ruling Communist Party on a Chinese spy engaged in “political interference activities”.
Priti Patel said Britain had “other adversaries” who “would try to interfere or come into our country in any shape and manner” when it was revealed that a senior Labor MP was given Christine Ching before the MI5 was released. A donation of more than £500,000 was received from Cui Li. One caveat she was a Chinese agent.
Barry Gardiner received donations—over a period of six years—mainly to cover staffing costs in his office, and appointed his son as his diary manager.
While the Labor Party centrally stated that it had received some £5,000.
The revelations came after MI5 took the rare step of issuing lawmakers and peers a warning about Lee’s cultivation of British politicians in order to secure a “Britain’s political landscape” that was “favourable” to China. ” Was.
Ms Patel said it was “deeply concerned” that the Communist Party of China was targeting British lawmakers.
In a statement, Mr Gardiner, who was a member of the shadow cabinet under former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, said he had been in contact with security services for many years about his contacts with Lee, who was a member of a staff in central London. run a law firm. ,
“They have always been fully aware of their association with my office and the donations made by me to fund the researchers in my office,” he said.
“I have been assured by Security Services that while they have definitively identified the improper funding channeled through Christine Lee, it is not related to any funding received by my office.”
While Ms Patel warned that stronger laws were needed as the activity was “under criminal limits”.
She said: “We are big players internationally, United Kingdom, our place in the world is very strong. And so we are naturally countries of interest. I think it would be fair to say that we will see more such alerts in the future.”
She continued: “And, of course, as I have said, we are working to see what measures we can take to strengthen our laws, our legislations, effectively those kinds of To lead lawsuits that we currently cannot deliver.”
Sir Ian Duncan Smith, a former Conservative Party leader who has been involved in helping Hong Kong-Chinese people flee communist rule, expressed concern that they may now be at risk as a result of Lee’s activities.
In a Security Service Interference Alert (SSIA) sent to lawmakers and peers, MI5 said Li “acted in secret” in coordination with the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CCP).
“UFWD strives to develop relationships with influential figures to ensure that the political landscape of the UK is aligned with the agenda of the CCP and to challenge those who are involved in CCP activity, such as concerns about human rights. pick up,” it said.
“Lee is engaged in facilitating financial donations to political parties, parliamentarians, aspiring parliamentarians and individuals seeking political office in the UK, including facilitating donations to political institutions on behalf of foreign nationals.”
In an accompanying letter, the Speaker of the Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, said he had included donations from politicians in China and Hong Kong, and among those targeted was the now disbanded Chinese All Party Parliamentary Group in Britain (APPG), chaired by Mr Gardiner. Was.
An analysis of the Register of Financial Interests of Members by the PA news agency showed that Lee donated more than £500,000 to Mr Gardiner between 2015 and 2020, mostly through funds for his staff.
He donated £5,000 to Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey in 2013, and in 2014 he helped sponsor a Chinese Liberal Democrat dinner to support the party’s then-candidate for Somerton and Froome, Sarah Yong.
In 2013, he funded flights for Hendon for a four-day visit to Beijing for then-Labor MP Andrew Dismore, who was then the chairman of the Chinese in Britain APPG.
In his statement, Mr Gardiner said steps had been taken to ensure that Lee had no role in the appointment or management of the researchers he bankrolled and that as of June 2020, any employees in his office were not involved in funding. stopped giving.
He said Lee’s son volunteered in his office “several years ago” and later served as a diary manager until his abrupt resignation on Thursday.
“The security services have advised me that they do not have any intelligence to show that he was aware of or was involved in his mother’s illegal activity,” he said.
Speaking on Sky News, he said he only discovered that Lee was a “spy” who had engaged in “illegal activity” when contacted by security officials on Thursday.
She added: “This morning she made it clear that she was trying to influence and influence all political parties here in Parliament and she believed she was doing so illegally.”
A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said Sir Ed was “shocked” by the SSIA, which was the first time he had been given reason to be concerned about donations to his local party union.
There was no response from Li, a prominent figure in the Chinese community whose law firm serves as legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London.
In the Commons, Sir Ian called for a radical overhaul of Parliament’s recognition procedures amid fears that the details of the people he helped could be compromised.
“We have people’s names and numbers, and it worries me that some of these have been accessed by such a person,” he said.
“These would put their lives and families at risk and I am deeply concerned about this because so my activities could be traced, as well as those of my colleagues and friends.”