Probe into if Barry Gardiner exploited his position to lobby for China

Ministers launch probe into Labour MP’s links with Chinese spy: Review to find out if Barry Gardiner exploited his frontbench position to lobby for the Chinese Communist Party

  • Kwasi Kwarteng has ordered officials to conduct a review into MP Barry Gardiner
  • It will look into if he exploited his frontbench position to lobby on behalf of China
  • It comes after MI5 told Parliament that Christine Lee was operating as an agent
  • She was accused of working on behalf of United Front Work Department agency
  • Ms Lee is said to have donated over £650,000, chiefly to the office of Labour MP

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has ordered his officials to conduct a ‘deep dive review’ into whether Labour MP Barry Gardiner exploited his frontbench position to lobby on behalf of China.

The review comes after MI5 last week alerted Parliament that solicitor Christine Lee has been operating as an agent of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to infiltrate British politics.

Whitehall sources last night said the Security Service had uncovered Ms Lee’s attempts to ‘exert a malign influence’ on politicians and believed she was ‘hiding her links’ to the communist party.

In a dramatic intervention, MI5 accused the 58-year-old of working on behalf of China’s powerful United Front Work Department (UFWD) agency to corrupt politicians. 

Review has been ordered into whether MP Barry Gardiner exploited his frontbench position to lobby for China. MI5 told Parliament Christine Lee (both pictured) was operating as an agent

Ms Lee is said to have donated more than £650,000, chiefly to the office of Mr Gardiner.

Mr Kwarteng’s officials are trying to establish if Mr Gardiner, who served as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade from 2016 to 2020, tried to secure information about Britain’s civil nuclear programme.

A source said: ‘It is not immediately obvious why Ms Lee would be interested in Barry – there must be a good reason.’

Mr Gardiner denies any wrongdoing and said he had only found out last week from MI5 that Ms Lee was a spy, but had been ‘liaising with our security services for a number of years’ about Ms Lee’s donations and was cleared to continue receiving them.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that another Labour politician, Lord Davidson of Glen Clova, who has spoken in support of policies pursued by the Chinese government, is a board member of an organisation closely linked to the UFWD.

A former Labour government Minister, the barrister is vice-chairman and advisory board member of the UK Sichuan Business Association. 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s officials are trying to establish if Mr Gardiner (pictured) tried to secure information about Britain’s civil nuclear programme

In 2014 he described China’s occupation of Tibet as one of its ‘remarkable accomplishments’.

The UK Sichuan Business group’s president Wenli Song has been praised for her work by UFWD officials. There is no suggestion that Lord Davidson has been involved in any wrongdoing.

Lord Davidson said he was ‘unaware’ he was listed as ‘vice chairman of the advisory board’ and had ‘no communications from her [Wenli Song] that I can recollect.’

The Chinese embassy has denied the espionage claims, insisting that it did not need to buy influence.

Matthew Henderson, a former Foreign Office diplomat based in China, said: ‘The Chinese Communist Party targets over-extended mediocrities.

‘They want people who feel undervalued and ought to be respected and listened to much more than they really are.’

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