Lawmaker Barry Gardiner says he’d made British security services aware of donations long ago and wasn’t involved in any wrongdoing
Labour MP Barry Gardiner has issued a statement noting that he did not engage in any illegal activity when he received funds from a woman named Christine Lee, who has since been accused by MI5 of being a Chinese “agent.”
Westminster has been rocked by an alleged spy scandal after MPs were notified by the House Speaker of an alert from intelligence agency MI5 about a suspected foreign agent attempting to interfere on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party.
The allegations center around Christine Lee, a Chinese woman who worked with British lawmakers and the all-party parliamentary group ‘Chinese in Britain,’ which has now been disbanded.
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle wrote to MPs after being contacted by MI5. In his letter, he stated that Lee had allegedly “engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, engaging with Members here at Parliament.”
According to British tabloid The Sun, Lee had links to Labour MP Barry Gardiner. In 17 years, Lee had reportedly donated over £675,000 to either Gardiner’s office or to the Labour Party.
Responding to the reports of Lee’s funding, Gardiner said in a statement on Wednesday that the security services had long been made aware of his association with Lee and that efforts were made to ensure that he personally did not benefit from her funding.
Gardiner said that these donations funded researchers in his office in the past and Lee had no role in either the appointment or management of those researchers. “She ceased funding any workers in my office in June 2020,” he added.
The MP also said that the British security services have assured him that “whilst they have definitively identified improper funding channelled through Christine Lee, this does not relate to any funding received by my office.”
Lee’s son had also been working as a diary manager for Gardiner and resigned from his position on Thursday morning, the MP said. “The Security Services have advised me that they have no intelligence that shows he was aware of, or complicit in, his mother’s illegal activity,” Gardiner added.
The MP said he was ready to cooperate with MI5 in any possible way.
Lee was also awarded a ‘Points of Light’ award for volunteering by then-Prime Minister Theresa May. In a letter to Lee, May praised her for “promoting engagement, understanding, and cooperation between the Chinese and British communities in the UK.”
On receiving the award, Lee said that the wellbeing of the British Chinese community in the UK would always be of great importance to her.