A British parliamentary researcher has been arrested by counterterrorism police along with one other suspect on suspicion of spying for China, the Times has exclusively revealed.
The Times is reporting the case as allegedly being “one of the most serious breaches of security involving a hostile state at Westminster”.
The researcher, in his twenties, held a parliamentary pass and is believed to be connected to senior Conservative MPs including Tom Tugendhat and Alicia Kearns, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee.
It is understood that he previously worked in China where he is likely to have been recruited as a ‘sleeper agent’ to infiltrate the heart of British politics.
A senior Whitehall source told the Times: “This is a major escalation by China. We have never seen anything like this before.”
🚨"Chinese spy" arrested 🚨🇨🇳
EXCLUSIVE: British parliamentary researcher linked to senior Tory MPs suspected of spying for Beijing https://t.co/D3ydtuffmu
— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) September 9, 2023
It appears that the incident has been ‘hidden’ by officials until now, with the arrests taking place in March of this year.
The individual was arrested in Edinburgh, with his home in London searched by police.
A second suspect was arrested in Oxfordshire.
Scotland Yard said in a statement: “Officers from the Metropolitan Police arrested two men on March 13 on suspicion of offences under section one of the Official Secrets Act 1911.
“A man in his thirties was arrested at an address in Oxfordshire and a man in his twenties was arrested at an address in Edinburgh. Searches were also carried out at both the residential properties, as well as at a third address in east London. Both men were taken to a south London police station and were released on police bail until a date in early October.”
The Times reports that inquiries are ongoing and the case is being handled by the Met’s counterterrorism command.
Luke de Pulford, of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), told the Times: “It’s no surprise that he’d go after Tom [Nugent]. He’s been out front on China for years. In IPAC we have long suspected that something was badly wrong because there were consistent efforts from a hostile researcher to smear IPAC MPs and label them as extreme on China policy. Now it all makes sense.”
Read the full article by the Times here.
This is not the first time that China has allegedly infiltrated westminster.
In January 2022, MI5 warned of a suspected agent of the Chinese government working in the British Parliament.
Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, raising a point of order, told the Commons: “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.”
An MI5 notice named the suspected agent as Christine Lee, saying she was “knowingly engaged in political interference on behalf of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)”.
She was later found to be listed as a donor for MP Barry Gardiner, with her son, also alleged to be a spy, working for the Labour MP until his mother’s alleged role was revealed.