Christine Lee: Woman accused of being a Chinese agent ‘sought to steer MPs on nuclear deals’. Exclusive: The solicitor tried to steer MPs language on sensitive infrastructure investment including nuclear power, it is alleged. Christine Lee, a woman accused of seeking covert influence over British lawmakers, lobbied parliamentary figures over Chinese investment interests in nuclear power and battery technology, The Independent understands. Ms Lee, who has been accused by security agency MI5 of “political interference”, directly and indirectly tried to shift language from MPs on a host of issues related to critical national infrastructure, including energy, manufacturing and telecoms, sources told The Independent. The warning message to MPs said Ms Lee had engaged with “individuals across the UK political spectrum” in order to further the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda. Issues Ms Lee tried to steer included China’s involvement in Hinkley C nuclear power station and Sizewell, it is claimed. She is understood to have sought influence with a range of British lawmakers including Labour MP Barry Gardiner. Ms Lee donated more than £500,000 to fund Mr Gardiner’s office, records show. Her son worked for the MP until Thursday morning though he was not named in the communication from the parliamentary authorities. Mr Gardiner spoke in favour of retaining Chinese involvement in Hinkley C, while serving as Labour’s shadow secretary of state for trade and a shadow minister for business and energy in September 2016. The MP also made a host of supportive remarks in response to a ministerial statement on a review of an £18 billion deal to build nuclear energy capacity in Somerset could pose any risks to security. Mr Gardiner then suggested that Chinese involvement in the UK nuclear project did not pose a threat to sensitive intellectual property – a frequent charge levied at China’s state-owned enterprises. The MP also said that there was no cybersecurity risk arising from Chinese involvement because the project was “a kitemark for marketing their Hualong One reactor technology around the world” and therefore “such an attack would undermine the very reason the Chinese wanted to be involved in the project in the first place?”.
Independent 14th Jan 2022 read more »
MI5 issued a rare security alert to MPs yesterday, warning that a Chinese agent had infiltrated parliament on behalf of the ruling Communist Party. The Security Service named Christine Lee, a solicitor with links to politicians from each big party, as part of a new government strategy to start “calling out” China when it targeted British interests, sources said.In total Lee donated more than £650,000, most of which is thought to have been funnelled to Gardiner, the Brent North MP, or the Labour Party. Gardiner, who generally took a pro-Beijing stance in his shadow portfolios, declared the payments and there was no suggestion of impropriety. She donated £5,000 to the Liberal Democrats and also gave £5,000 in 2013 to Sir Ed Davey, then the energy and climate change secretary.
Times 13th Jan 2022 read more »
Mr Gardiner’s vociferous lobbying on behalf of his Chinese paymasters is well known. Indeed, The Times reported five years ago that he had received payments totalling £180,000 from a firm linked to the Chinese state and employed the son of its founder in his Westminster office. At the time, Mr Gardiner was calling for more Chinese investment in Britain and was denouncing proposals to put the Hinkley Point nuclear project on ice because of security concerns over Chinese involvement. In the light of other lobbying by MPs with a financial interest in the outcome, as was the case recently with Owen Paterson, it is extraordinary that this was tolerated. Such links are not only an affront to political ethics, but an underhand way for MPs to enrich themselves at the expense of private firms or foreign governments, with the quid pro quo largely hidden from voters.
Times 13th Jan 2022 read more »