Daily Express

Priti’s Asbo crackdown on foreign spies in UK

- By Michael Knowles Home Affairs Editor

PRITI Patel will today warn that Britain must do more to tackle foreign spies operating on home soil.

The Home Secretary will tell MPs: “We cannot be passive in the face of malign covert activity designed to interfere with our national security, economy and democracy.”

The new National Security Bill will give Ms Patel powers to restrict foreign nationals suspected of working for hostile states on where they can work, study and travel.

The bill – the biggest overhaul of espionage laws in decades – will return to Parliament today.

The Daily Express can reveal the Home Office and counter-terrorism police believe it will result in 50 new investigat­ions as they finally have the powers to tackle foreign spies.

Around one in three of these are expected to result in prosecutio­ns.

The crackdown comes after MI5 warned in January that Christine Lee, a former chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London, was an agent of Beijing.

She had met and was pictured with many prominent UK politician­s including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. Other images show the 58-year-old “spy” with David Cameron when he was prime minister.

Ms Lee donated more than £500,000 to former Labour shadow minister Barry Gardiner and her son Daniel Wilkes quit his job in the MP’s office when the warning about his mother was issued. There is no suggestion he was involved in her activities.

As a result Asbo-style civil measures, called state threat prevention

and investigat­ion measures (STPIMs), will be introduced. The legislatio­n will require those working for foreign states to declare it.

The Home Secretary is expected to say: “The chemical weapons attack in Salisbury by the Russian state is just

the most obvious of the types of threats we now face, but state threats come in multiple forms.We all have a responsibi­lity to our constituen­ts and our country to keep them safe.”

A new offence of sabotage, with a maximum life sentence, will target foreign agents responsibl­e for cyber or drone attacks on infrastruc­ture or data critical to UK interests. And the

crime category of foreign interferen­ce – targeted at elections – will be introduced with a maximum jail sentence of 14 years. Theft of state secrets will carry the same punishment.

MI5 and counter-terrorism police will also be given new powers to tackle plots at an earlier stage, with investigat­ors able to prosecute those preparing activities.

 ?? Pictures: PA, AVALON ?? Secret service...Chinese ‘spy’ Christine Lee with Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. Inset, Priti Patel
Pictures: PA, AVALON Secret service...Chinese ‘spy’ Christine Lee with Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. Inset, Priti Patel
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