Priti Patel says MI5 warnings about Chinese attempts to influence UK politics will become ‘more commonplace’ as agents like Christine Lee seek to make Britain ‘more favourable’ to the communist regime’s hardline agenda

  • Home Secretary addressed the Commons about alert regarding Christine Lee
  • Donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to Labour, Tories and Lib-Dem MPS

MPs can expect MI5 warnings about Chinese spies trying to subvert Parliament will become ‘more commonplace’ as the communist regime seeks to make UK politics ‘more favorable’ towards Beijing, Priti Patel warned today.

The Home Secretary addressed the Commons in the wake of the scandal over access given to lawyer Christine Lee, who was last week outed as a Chinese agent. 

Ms Lee, a Birmingham-based lawyer, donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

The alert from the security service said the a twice-married mother of two who lives in the affluent Birmingham suburb of Coleshill, was ‘knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party’. No politicians are suspected of any criminality. 

Addressing the Commons today, Ms Patel said: ‘We can expect to see these kinds of alerts become more commonplace as a result of the work of our world class intelligence agencies who have adapted to counter these new and emerging threats.’

The Home Secretary addressed the Commons in the wake of the scandal over access given to lawyer Christine Lee, who was last week outed as a Chinese agent.

Addressing the Commons today, Ms Patel said: ‘We can expect to see these kinds of alerts become more commonplace as a result of the work of our world class intelligence agencies who have adapted to counter these new and emerging threats.’

She added: ‘In this case, the aim was to make the UK political landscape more favourable to the Chinese authorities’ agenda and to challenge those… who raise concerns about the Chinese authorities’ activities on very pressing issues such as human rights.

‘I, like all members across this House, was utterly appalled that an individual who has knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party for a number of years targeted members of this Parliament.’ 

Ms Lee, is a former chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. She is also the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group at Westminster. 

She has donated more than £500,000 to Jeremy Corbyn ally Barry Gardiner, including around £200,000 used to pay staff ages. 

Her son, Daniel Wilkes, worked in his office and Mr Gardiner confirmed he had resigned today, meaning he has had privileged access to the Parliamentary estate with a staff pass. There is no suggestion he was involved in his mother’s activities.

Mr Gardiner has been supportive of China’s attempts to get more involved in Britain’s nuclear industry, including the Hinkley Point power plant. 

She is also reported to have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds more to other parts of the Labour Party. Questions were first asked about her funding five years ago but no action was taken. 

As well as embarrassment for Labour Ms Lee’s firm also donated £5,000 to the Liberal Democrats in 2005 and another £5,000 to now party leader Ed Davey in 2013, when he was energy minister in the coalition government.

She also has links to the Conservatives.  She appears to have also developed a good relationship with David Cameron while he was prime minister. And in January 2019, she received a Points of Light Award from then premier Theresa May, in recognition of her contribution to good relations with China via the British Chinese Project. 

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘The information received by the Speaker from the Security Service last week was obviously extremely serious and we condemn in the strongest terms the attempts by China to interfere in Britain’s democratic process.

‘Clearly the work is important that has been done, but I would be very concerned if this meant that the Home Secretary and the Home Office were complacent in this area, because we have seen a series of important warnings about attempts by both Russia and China to interfere in both the Russian report and also in the report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life, particularly about the risks from foreign money.’

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘The information received by the Speaker from the Security Service last week was obviously extremely serious and we condemn in the strongest terms the attempts by China to interfere in Britain’s democratic process.

Christine Lee, 58, the solicitor outed as an agent of the Chinese Communist Party, announced a project to get young Chinese politicians in power after being appointed ‘legal adviser’ to the Chinese embassy

Last night it was revealed she boasted about her plans to install Chinese MPs in the Commons as far back as 2007, it emerged yesterday.

Christine Lee, 58, the solicitor outed as an agent of the Chinese Communist Party, announced a project to get young politicians in power after being appointed ‘legal adviser’ to the Chinese embassy.

The mother of two’s ‘political interference activities’ appear to date back 15 years when, just hours after stepping off a 13-hour flight from Beijing, she announced a plan to get the first British-Chinese MP elected.

‘We have been silent for too long. We will not be silent any more,’ she told Time Out London. ‘Chinese here don’t do [British] politics.

We need to use our voices to be seen and heard.’

On her website, which has now been closed, she told of her influence as adviser to the embassy in London.

It comes as a former head of MI5 accused ministers of failing to act on warnings that might have stopped her infiltrating Westminster.

Lord Evans of Weardale, who ran MI5 between 2007 and 2013, also told The Sunday Times that foreign interference is a ‘live and present threat’ to democracy.

The Chinese embassy has rejected the claims, saying: ‘China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.’

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