MI5 warns Chinese government ‘agent’ has been ‘active’ in UK parliament

·3-min read

MI5 has warned a suspected Chinese government “agent” has been “active” in UK Parliament, MPs have been told.

A letter was sent to MPs by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle who said a woman has been “engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Community Party, engaging with members here at parliament”.

He said she has been involved with the now disbanded all-party parliamentary group Chinese in Britain.

Leading Tory Iain Duncan Smith, who China has placed sanctions on for speaking up against its treatment of the Uyghurs, brought the letter up in the Commons on Thursday.

Raising a point of order in the Commons, Sir Iain said the Speaker has emailed MPs.

He said: “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.

“I say, as a Member of Parliament who has been sanctioned by the Chinese government, that this is a matter of grave concern.”

Sir Iain added: “Will this now lead to a serious overhaul of the accreditation procedures here in the House of Commons because it’s clearly too slack that these people get in – either in APPGs (all-party parliamentary groups) or with individuals.

“Is it possible we’ll have a statement from the Speaker from the chair about the risks?”

He continued: “These will be their lives and families at risk and I am deeply concerned about this because my activities therefore may well have therefore been traced, as those as well from my colleagues and friends.

“I understand that the latest news I hear is that this individual is not to be deported and no further action to be taken.

“How can it be that an agent of a foreign despotic and despicable power that is hellbent on reducing many of those people into penury it seems, how can they put somebody into Parliament – this mother of Parliaments – and then that individual have nothing done to them other than they’re not allowed in Parliament.

“This is surely not good enough.”

Sir Iain asked for the Government to also make a statement on the matter.

The Speaker’s office has confirmed a warning notice has been issued in relation to the activities of a suspected Chinese agent.

A spokeswoman for the Speaker’s office said: “The Speaker takes the security of Members and the democratic process very seriously, which is why he issued this notice in consultation with the security services.

“There is no further comment on this matter.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I know it will be deeply concerning to many that an individual who has knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party has targeted parliamentarians.

“This development has come as a result of the strong structures the United Kingdom has in place to identify foreign interference or any potential threats to our democracy.

“Where necessary, proportionate action is always taken to mitigate these threats, thanks to our world-leading intelligence and security agencies.

“Forthcoming measures to counter these kind of threats will build on the robust safeguards already in place, making our country even harder for states to conduct hostile activity in.”

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