Priti Patel has warned that “we can expect” more MI5 warnings about foreign agents trying to influence MPs in the wake of a Chinese spy being outed by the intelligence agency last week.
Patel told the House of Commons today that she was “utterly appalled” by the news that Chinese spy Christine Lee had been giving donations to MPs and aspiring MPs in a bid to influence political decisions.
MI5 sent an alert to House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on Thursday to warn MPs that Lee had been identified as an agent of the Chinese Communist Party.
Her activities have involved donating hundreds of thousands of pounds to Labour MP, and former shadow international trade secretary, Barry Gardiner.
Patel said “this kind of activity has recently become more common, with states who have malign intentions operating covertly and below criminal thresholds in an attempt to interfere with our democracy”.
“We can expect to see these kind of alerts to become more commonplace as a result of our world class intelligence agencies who have adapted to counter these new and emerging threats,” she told MPs.
“Security services’ interference alerts are one of several tools MI5 can use to highlight and thus robustly mitigate threats like malign political interference activity.”