The House

Uncovering of Chinese agent leads to calls for an inquiry

- By John Johnston

The exposure by MI5 of a suspected Chinese agent triggered an urgent question in the House of Lords, as peers called on the government to investigat­e allegation­s she had secured amendments to the 2006 Immigratio­n, Asylum and Nationalit­y Act.

Lord Alton, who raised the question, stated there were media reports Lee had “obtained amendments” to the bill on behalf of China, saying it had been claimed she had “persuaded” peers to table changes.

In evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2006, Lee is recorded as saying she had been “lobbying the House of

Lords quite heavily” over the proposed law, adding that peers had been “absolutely wonderful”.

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford said she could not comment on the specific case but confirmed there were mechanisms in place to sanction peers, including by expulsion, if they were found to have aided China in securing changes to legislatio­n.

Lee has been the focus of press reports in recent years over donations totalling almost £700,000, with much of it received by the Labour MP Barry Gardiner to fund staff in his office.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey received a £5,000 donation to his local associatio­n from

Lee’s firm in 2013, when he was serving as energy secretary.

Lee, who has been accused of targeting parliament­arians from all parties, was awarded a Points of

Light award in 2019 by then-prime minister Theresa May in recognitio­n of her “engagement” efforts.

The award has been rescinded since the alert was issued.

The warning from security services raised serious concerns among MPs, including Conservati­ve Iain Duncan Smith, who has been “sanctioned” by Beijing over his outspoken criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.

Duncan Smith said the case was likely the “tip of the iceberg” and criticised successive government­s for what he described as “kowtowing” to China.

Gardiner insisted he had not profited personally from the donations and that all the monies were fully declared.

The Labour MP said he was “very angry” that he had been targeted, but said he had been in frequent contact with security services over the years regarding the donations and had not been told to cut off contact.

 ?? ?? Offices of solicitors Christine Lee & Co in Wardour Street in Soho
Offices of solicitors Christine Lee & Co in Wardour Street in Soho

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