On a quiet street in affluent Solihull, dazed residents awoke to a real-life enactment of The Spy Next Door.
Overnight, Birmingham immigration lawyer Christine Lee has become perhaps the fourth most famous person in the country, behind Boris Johnson, Prince Andrew and Sue Grey.
And now, if reports are to be believed, she is hiding in her £985,000 Solihull home on a private cul-de-sac near Shirley.
READ MORE: City lawyer at MI5 claims ‘Chinese agent’ a ‘second-class citizen’ and his ‘fighting confidence’
The alleged Chinese “agent” has bankrolled several high profile lawmakers according to security agency MI5, who raised the alarm yesterday (January 15).
Full name Christine Ching Cui Lee, she reportedly sought to “unreasonably influence” lawmakers on behalf of China’s ruling Communist Party. He has not been arrested on the claims.
MI5 took the rare step of warning 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 communist regime.
In Solihull, where he is believed to have a house, cars pass along a busy street, with houses worth millions of pounds on either side. The montage media is standing waiting for anything to move.
Some motorists slow down and ask what is causing the horn to sound and ‘move!’ slogans are being raised.
But if anyone is astonished, it is those who live here, looking out of their windows and wondering what on earth is happening.
One such local Adil Ansari said that the media was camping outside the whole morning.
“Well, that explains what’s going on,” the 30-year-old accountant said when he told the news. “I had no idea to be honest.”
Asked if it surprised him, he replied: “Of course it shocked me.”
Adil, who has been on the road for more than 20 years, called it ‘crazy’.
“You just don’t expect it,” he went on. “Especially so close to the road. It’s shocking to be honest.”
Locals say that the area is quite prosperous, quiet, with nothing but lines about traffic.
“It’s a suburb, it’s not, it’s people jogging, nothing strange happens here,” Adil said.
Another neighbor, who asked not to be named, said it was not the most likely place to attract the country’s media attention.
“It’s not what you expect to hear,” she said. “It’s quiet, nothing really happens. You’ll find most school kids screaming. Interesting to say the least.”
A local, who was out for his daily exercise routine, said he had heard about the story of MI5 and was surprised to learn that Lee could live nearby.
“We really only talk to the people next door,” he said.
“I read detective novels every now and then but that’s about it.”
Another resident, Sue Hall, stops to ask what everyone else is doing.
“Curiosity got the better of me, I keep driving back and forth,” she explained.
“I was going to ask if Prince Andrew or Boris had moved in.”
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”.
The claims surrounding him were angrily dismissed by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, who accused the UK government of being “too obsessed with James Bond 007 movies”.
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.
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