Home U.S Pictured: Husband of Beijing spy Christine Lee named in MI5 security alert...

Pictured: Husband of Beijing spy Christine Lee named in MI5 security alert is spotted near £1M home

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This is the husband of suspected Chinese spy Christine Lee at the heart of the MI5 security alert who they say has been seeking to buy influence within the UK Government.

Martin Wilkes was pictured outside the couple’s £1million house in an upmarket gated estate in the smart market town of Solihull in the West Midlands, while Ms Lee has not been seen since the news broke.

MPs were warned in a bombshell email this week to avoid contact with Christine Lee, 58, who has been monitored by the security services for some time.

She has not been arrested and is not being expelled as it stands, but a warning memo was sent to all MPs and peers in Westminster by the Speaker’s Parliamentary security team.

MI5 said Lee had ‘facilitated’ donations to British political parties and legislators ‘on behalf of foreign nationals’.

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. 

Lee moved with her parents to Northern Ireland in 1974 before relocating to the West Midlands in 1985 and marrying her first husband in Birmingham when she was 21.

Pictured: Martin Wilkes, the husband of Christine Lee, was seen outside the couple's £1million house in an upmarket gated estate in the smart market town of Solihull in the West Midlands

Pictured: Martin Wilkes, the husband of Christine Lee, was seen outside the couple’s £1million house in an upmarket gated estate in the smart market town of Solihull in the West Midlands

Christine Lee lives in a £1m-plus mansion behind these gates in Solihull in the West Midlands

Christine Lee lives in a £1m-plus mansion behind these gates in Solihull in the West Midlands

Parliamentarians were told Christine Lee (pictured) has been monitored by the security services for some time but has not been arrested and is not being expelled as it stands

Parliamentarians were told Christine Lee (pictured) has been monitored by the security services for some time but has not been arrested and is not being expelled as it stands

Some five years later she married Martin Wilkes in Solihull and the couple had two children.

Mr Wilkes, 71, who is also a solicitor, is listed as a director of five of Miss Lee’s companies and has been described as the head of Christine Lee & Co’s Birmingham office and its conveyancing department.

Miss Lee and Mr Wilkes live in a £1million house in an upmarket gated estate, where Mr Wilkes was pictured today, in the smart market town of Solihull, where three luxury cars were parked.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr Wilkes. A family source described being introduced by Mr Wilkes to his wife on just one occasion at a Chinese restaurant after a family christening.

The source said: ‘Christine seemed very nice and [she and Martin] were a nice couple. I knew she was a lawyer and was very bright. That was in Birmingham but we’ve not seen them since.

‘We were close to Martin when we were growing up and this is such a shock.

Christine Lee is pictured with Labour MP Barry Gardiner outside Houses of Parliament in 2013

Christine Lee is pictured with Labour MP Barry Gardiner outside Houses of Parliament in 2013

Ms Lee and David Cameron at the ceremony of the British GG2 leadership awards in 2015

Ms Lee and David Cameron at the ceremony of the British GG2 leadership awards in 2015

‘When I saw her on the news I didn’t even realise it was the same woman. She doesn’t use the name Wilkes so this is just an amazing twist. Martin is very nice but we have not been in touch for years. This will really rattle everyone.’

Another source added: ‘Bit of a shock to think there’s a spy in the family.’ The couple and their two sons appear to have amassed a large fortune and own two properties worth £1.77million.

Earlier today, former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the targeting of MPs by suspected Chinese agent Christine Lee was ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.

In an interview with Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme today, he said that ‘successive governments have been completely asleep at the wheel’ over the issue.

‘China, over the years, has so dominated us in a way that we are now completely dependent on them on a whole series of items and articles.

‘Far too many officials and ex-ministers then left and retired and gone and taken money from China, so the very fact that they are in trying to persuade and infiltrate and subvert people within our political system is nothing new at all, but the worst bit about it is that too many governments seem too cautious about calling it out.’

Martin Wilkes, who is also a solicitor, is listed as a director of five of Miss Lee's companies and has been described as the head of Christine Lee & Co's Birmingham office (pictured above)

Martin Wilkes, who is also a solicitor, is listed as a director of five of Miss Lee’s companies and has been described as the head of Christine Lee & Co’s Birmingham office (pictured above)

Mr Duncan Smith said it was ‘very important that we recognise China as a threat, not as a competitor’.

He called China’s ruling communist party a ‘brutal, dictatorial, ghastly regime’. 

On Thursday, a rare warning was issued to all MPs by MI5 containing allegations about lawyer Christine Ching Kui Lee, 58, amid concerns that she was not being open about her connections to the Chinese state. 

The secret service has stated that foreign interference is a ‘live and present threat’ to democracy, The Sunday Times reports.

Lord Evans of Weardale, the current chairman of the committee of standards in public life and former head of MI5 between 2007 and 2013, said government ministers did not follow recommendations his committee made to protect British politics from ‘powerful forces’ trying to bring ‘undue influence’, following a report last year.

He said: ‘This current case demonstrates why we should be closing loopholes because there are quite powerful forces out there that are trying to bring undue influence, part through parliament and part through money. 

‘We made some recommendations to close some of those loopholes but [the] government hasn’t acted on them.’ 

Home Secretary Priti Patel said Lee's activity was'under the criminal threshold' and Whitehall sources confirmed Miss Lee will not be expelled after MI5 issued an alert on Thursday

Home Secretary Priti Patel said Lee’s activity was ‘under the criminal threshold’ and Whitehall sources confirmed Miss Lee will not be expelled after MI5 issued an alert on Thursday

The Chinese solicitor exposed as an alleged Communist agent by MI5 boasted of her influence with'government ministers, senior civil servants and peers'. Pictured: during her visit

The Chinese solicitor exposed as an alleged Communist agent by MI5 boasted of her influence with ‘government ministers, senior civil servants and peers’. Pictured: during her visit

During the course of her political activities, Christine Lee donated more than £600,000 to the campaign office of Barry Gardiner, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, and bankrolled several of his staff. Her own son was hired by Mr Gardiner’s office as a diary manager before resigning last week.

Lee denies wrongdoing and sources close to her claim she is shocked by the allegations.  

Yesterday, Gardiner, 64, said he had previously approached the security services about Lee and asked whether he should cease to engage with her, but was not advised to do so.

He said: ‘I was told by the security services that they had now got specific evidence of illegal donations into British politics via Christine Lee, but that this did not relate to the properly recorded donations to my office. The question is – where did the tainted money go?’ 

Miss Lee's boasts of helping Chinese entrepreneurs seek opportunities in the UK and obtain visas. Pictured: promotional material for her law firm which has been established for 20 years

Miss Lee’s boasts of helping Chinese entrepreneurs seek opportunities in the UK and obtain visas. Pictured: promotional material for her law firm which has been established for 20 years

In a YouTube video, Christine Lee hinted at the scale of her ambitions in 2015, describing efforts to lobby'more than 480 MPs' on behalf of the Chinese community as part of the British Chinese Project promoting closer relations. Her efforts paid off when Theresa May, who was pictured with Miss Lee at No 10 (above), presented her with an award for her work in 2019

In a YouTube video, Christine Lee hinted at the scale of her ambitions in 2015, describing efforts to lobby ‘more than 480 MPs’ on behalf of the Chinese community as part of the British Chinese Project promoting closer relations. Her efforts paid off when Theresa May, who was pictured with Miss Lee at No 10 (above), presented her with an award for her work in 2019

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng's officials are trying to establish if Labour MP Barry Gardiner (pictured) tried to secure information about Britain's civil nuclear programme

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

Ms Lee, is a former chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London and a legal adviser to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office. She is also the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group at Westminster.  

In addition to her donations to Barry Gardiner’s office, she is also reported to have donated hundreds of thousands of pounds more to other parts of the Labour Party. Questions were first asked about her funding five years ago but no action was taken. 

As well as embarrassment for Labour Ms Lee’s firm also donated £5,000 to the Liberal Democrats in 2005 and another £5,000 to now party leader Ed Davey in 2013, when he was energy minister in the coalition government.

She also has links to the Conservatives.  She appears to have also developed a good relationship with David Cameron while he was prime minister. And in January 2019, she received a Points of Light Award from then premier Theresa May, in recognition of her contribution to good relations with China via the British Chinese Project.

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

Whitehall sources 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.

Ms Lee, a London-based solicitor and a former chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy in London, speaking to former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. She is also the secretary of the Inter-Party China Group at Westminster.

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. 

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 revealed yesterday 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.

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.’

 Yesterday, China dismissed the warning from MI5 to MPs, accusing Britain of being ‘too obsessed with James Bond movies’. 

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said Beijing has ‘no need to and will never engage in the so-called interference’, calling the claims about alleged spy Christine Lee ‘irresponsible’.

Mr Wenbin said those behind the accusation ‘may be too obsessed with James Bond 007 movies and made some unnecessary associations’.

He said at his daily briefing in Beijing, that Chinese officials hoped the ‘relevant British official will refrain from making groundless allegations and hyping the China threat to serve (the government’s) ulterior motives’.

‘It is highly irresponsible to make sensational remarks based on hearsay evidence and certain individual’s conjecture,’ Mr Wang said.  

Last night the a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in London said the Asian nation had ‘no need’ to ‘buy influence’ in any foreign parliament, adding: ‘China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in other country’s internal affairs. 

‘We have no need and never seek to ‘buy influence’ in any foreign parliament. We firmly oppose the trick of smearing and intimidation against the Chinese community in the UK.’

‘Clearly unacceptable behaviour’: MI5’s unprecedented email to MPs

The security services issued a rare warning to MPs and peers amid fears an agent of the Chinese government has been active in Parliament.

On Thursday a Security Service Interference Alert was issued by MI5 containing allegations about Christine Ching Kui Lee after concerns were raised that she was not being open about her connections to the Chinese state and may have ulterior motives for her involvement with parliamentarians.

While it is not the first time such an alert has been issued, official warnings of this nature are relatively rare.

The letter from the Speaker accompanying the alert said: ‘I am writing now to draw your attention to the attached Interference Alert issued by the Security Service, MI5, about the activities of an individual, Christine Lee, who has been engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, engaging with Members here at Parliament and associated political entities, including the former APPG: Chinese in Britain.

‘I should highlight the fact that Lee has facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring Parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China. 

‘This facilitation was done covertly to mask the origins of the payments. 

‘This is clearly unacceptable behaviour and steps are being taken to ensure it ceases.’

In the covering letter, Sir Lindsay said the MPs she contacted included members of the now disbanded Chinese in Britain All Party Parliamentary Group. Chaired by Mr Gardiner, other members included Labour’s Keith Vaz, Stephen Pound, Faisal Rashid and Gareth Thomas, along with Tory David Morris.

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