The UK's secret service, MI5, has warned members of Parliament that a female Chinese agent has been active in Parliament, it emerged in the House of Commons on Thursday.
Senior Conservative Party MP and outspoken China critic Iain Duncan Smith brought up the issue with reference to a letter sent to Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle by MI5.
China has placed sanctions on Duncan Smith for speaking up against its treatment of the Uyghur minority in the country's restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
“I understand that Mr Speaker has been contacted by MI5 and is now warning members of Parliament that there has been an agent of the Chinese government active here in Parliament working with a member of Parliament, obviously to subvert the processes here,” said Smith.
“I say, as a member of Parliament who has been sanctioned by the Chinese government, that this is a matter of grave concern,” he said.
In a letter sent to MPs by Hoyle, he, reportedly, said that MI5 had warned him a woman called Christine Lee has been “engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Community Party, engaging with members here at Parliament”.
MI5 sent out the so-called "interference alert" warning Lee has "facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China... done covertly to mask the origins of the payments”.
MI5, which stands for Military Intelligence Section 5, said the Chinese lawyer has been involved with MPs and hopeful MPs as well as members of the now-disbanded All-Party Parliamentary Group, Chinese in Britain.
According to Sky News, the alert says that “Lee has acted covertly in coordination with the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party (UFWD) and is judged to be involved in political interference activities in the UK.”
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Hoyle told MPs if they have been approached by Lee, they should contact the director of security for Parliament.
Opposition Labour Party MP Barry Gardiner was named as an MP who accepted donations from the Chinese woman, and he confirmed her son was working for him but has now resigned. The MPs' register of interests shows Lee has made about 500,000 pounds in donations to British parliamentarians.