“The investigation is being carried out by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, which has responsibility for investigations relating to allegations of Official Secrets Act and espionage-related offences.”
Kearns said on X (formerly known as Twitter) that she was aware of the report and would not be commenting. “While I recognise the public interest, we all have a duty to ensure any work of the authorities is not jeopardised,” she said.
Kearns and Tugendhat were members of an internal Tory Party pressure group called the China Research Group, formed to rival a cross-party grouping of more hawkish MPs led by former Conservative minister Iain Duncan Smith, called the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).
Luke De Pulford, a spokesman for the inter-parliamentary alliance, said the men arrested had no affiliation to his group.
“The suspect was a figure hostile to IPAC’s work and not involved with IPAC in any way,” he said.
“We urge authorities to reveal the name of the suspect, so as to avoid casting a wide web of suspicion in a community already strained by [China’s] transnational repression.”
He said IPAC was concerned that MPs were alerted to a potential spy at their place of work by the media, and not the authorities.
“Greater transparency and balanced information flows serve not only to protect potential targets but also to counter [China’s] goal of dividing and blunting those it perceives as critical,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Commons intelligence committee delivered a scathing report saying the Chinese had infiltrated every level of British society.
Last year, MI5 outed London lawyer Christine Lee as a Chinese agent who had made political donations to MPs in an attempt to corrupt them. Lee paid for her son and another researcher to work in the office of the former Labour frontbencher Barry Gardiner.
Lee was awarded a “Points of Light Award” by former prime minister Theresa May for community work, which included Lee’s non-governmental organisation the British Chinese Project.
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