A man British media have reported was arrested on suspicion of spying for China while working as a parliamentary researcher said via his lawyers yesterday he was “completely innocent” and that he had only ever tried to educate others about China.
London’s Metropolitan Police said on Sunday two men had been arrested in March under the Official Secrets Act. The Sunday Times reported one was a parlia- mentary researcher and yesterday the Times published a picture of who they said the suspect was. Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of parliament, urged legislators, who sometimes use socalled parliamentary privilege to speak freely without the fear of being sued for example on the grounds of defamation, not to identify them so as not to prejudice the investigation.
The arrests are yet another blow to relations between Britain and China that ministers had hoped to revive after being strained by tensions over security, investment and human rights. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters he had raised “his very strong con- cerns about any interference in our parliamentary democracy”, at a meeting with Chinese Pre- mier Li Qiang at the G20 summit in India on Sunday.
“I feel forced to respond to the media accusations that I am a ‘Chinese spy’. It is wrong that I should be obliged to make any form of public comment on the misreporting that has taken place,” the man said in a statement from his lawyers Birnberg Peirce referring to “extravagant news coverage”. “However, given what has been reported, it is vital that it is known that I am completely innocent. I have spent my career to date trying to educate others about the challenge and threats presented by the Chinese Communist Party.”