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British MP & Padma Shri recipient Barry Gardiner received funds from ‘Chinese spy’, MI5 claims

Gardiner, who represents Brent North and enjoys the support of a huge Indian diaspora, allegedly received over £5 lakh over six years from ‘Chinese spy’ Christine Lee and her law firm.

A file photo of British Labour Party MP Barry Gardiner. | Photo: Commons
A file photo of British Labour Party MP Barry Gardiner. | Photo: Commons

New Delhi: British Labour Party MP Barry Gardiner, who is a Padma Shri recipient, received funds from an alleged ‘Chinese spy’ trying to subvert democratic processes in the UK parliament, Britain’s premium counter-intelligence agency MI5 has reportedly found in an investigation.

Gardiner, who represents Brent North and enjoys the support of the constituency’s huge Indian diaspora, was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, in January 2020.

According to a report in the Independent, the MI5 has found that Gardiner received over £5 lakh over six years from ‘Chinese spy’ Christine Lee and her law firm, Christine Lee & Co. The security agency has alleged that Lee doubled up as an employee of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and worked as a spy. 

Links between Gardiner and Lee have been known since at least 2017. At the time, a report in The Times had said that the MP had received £1.8 lakh in funding from Lee’s law firm that acts as chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy. The report had also said that donations from this firm partly funded the salary of Gardiner’s son.

Moreover, Gardiner also reportedly employed Lee’s son Daniel Wilkes as his diary manager

In his defence after the latest allegations, Gardiner has said that he has been corresponding with security agencies about his association with Lee and has been transparent about all the donations in the past.

“I have been assured by the secret services that whilst they have definitely identified improper funding channelled through Christine Lee, this doesn’t relate to any funding in my office,” he said.


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What happened 

According to The Times of India, MI5 issued a warning to MPs Thursday, and said Chinese national Christine Ching Kui Lee has “knowingly engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party”. 

“Lee has acted covertly in coordination with UFWD and is judged to be involved in political interferences activities in the UK,” the MI5 reportedly said.

The allegation is that Lee was covertly and slowly gaining influence in the UK Parliament and trying to ensure the political environment in the country is “favourable to the CCP’s agenda”. 

According to the MI5, Lee was allegedly employed by UFWD and had “extensive engagement with individuals across the UK political spectrum”.

However, a BBC report clarified that the allegation is of interference (covertly gaining influence) and not espionage, which means stealing of information.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)


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