Chinese spy at the heart of Whitehall boasted of lobbying 480 MPs

The Chinese spy at the heart of Whitehall boasted of lobbying ‘more than 480 MPs’ and even sought to get her own puppet politician elected.

Christine Lee, 58, secretly funnelled cash to a prospective MP she hoped would secure her influence long term but they did not succeed in gaining office, it emerged last night.

The Chinese solicitor exposed as a Communist agent by MI5 boasted of her influence with ‘government ministers, senior civil servants and peers’, posting photos of herself in Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and the Supreme Court.

The Mail has learnt she was also invited to the Home Office where she had access to immigration officials. 

In a YouTube video, Chinese spy 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

The Chinese solicitor exposed as a Communist agent by MI5 boasted of her influence with 'government ministers, senior civil servants and peers'. Miss Lee's access in Whitehall also included getting inside the Home Office. (Above, during her visit)

The Chinese solicitor exposed as a Communist agent by MI5 boasted of her influence with ‘government ministers, senior civil servants and peers’. Miss Lee’s access in Whitehall also included getting inside the Home Office. (Above, during her visit)

Miss Lee's boasts of helping Chinese entrepreneurs seek opportunities in the UK and obtain visas have raised concerns she could have brought in other agents. Above, promotional material for her law firm

Miss Lee’s boasts of helping Chinese entrepreneurs seek opportunities in the UK and obtain visas have raised concerns she could have brought in other agents. Above, promotional material for her law firm

But despite Miss Lee being accused of ‘political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party’, there was growing anger last night that the married mother of two looks set to escape sanction. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her activity was ‘under the criminal threshold’ and Whitehall sources confirmed Miss Lee will not be expelled after MI5 issued an alert on Thursday warning MPs about her penetration of Parliament.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said yesterday the case was the ‘tip of a very large iceberg’ and called for Miss Lee to face a criminal investigation.

He spoke out as it emerged that Miss Lee sought to expand her influence outside Parliament after being handed a role at the 2012 London Olympic Games as a Chinese goodwill ambassador.

She also secured a position as the UK population census promotion ambassador in 2011. 

On her website, now removed, Miss Lee described herself as the legal advisor to the embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the UK.

She described going door to door speaking to the electorate, encouraging them to vote and later lobbying on behalf of Remain during Brexit, raising concerns about interference in democracy.

The Daily Mail has learnt that she secretly sought to sponsor an aspiring MP but her efforts to get them elected failed.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her activity was 'under the criminal threshold' and Whitehall sources confirmed Miss Lee will not be expelled after MI5 issued an alert on Thursday warning MPs about her penetration of Parliament

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her activity was ‘under the criminal threshold’ and Whitehall sources confirmed Miss Lee will not be expelled after MI5 issued an alert on Thursday warning MPs about her penetration of Parliament

The unnamed candidate is not Barry Gardiner, a former Labour minister who received more than £600,000 from Miss Lee as part of a £670,000 wave of donations to Labour and the Liberal Democrats over the past 15 years. 

MI5 is investigating her funding and a web of companies and investments, including a property portfolio.

In a YouTube video, Miss 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.

‘We were able to force our concerns to the Parliament directly,’ she said.

Around the same time she was pictured at an audience in Parliament with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who tellingly gave her law firm permission to operate in China – the only UK firm of solicitors permitted to do so. 

Her efforts paid off when Theresa May, who was pictured with Miss Lee at No 10, presented her with an award for her work in 2019.

Miss Lee’s access in Whitehall also included getting inside the Home Office. 

The Daily Mail has learnt that Miss Lee secretly sought to sponsor an aspiring MP but her efforts to get them elected failed. The unnamed candidate is not Barry Gardiner (above), a former Labour minister who received more than £600,000 from Miss Lee as part of a £670,000 wave of donations to Labour and the Liberal Democrats over the past 15 years

The Daily Mail has learnt that Miss Lee secretly sought to sponsor an aspiring MP but her efforts to get them elected failed. The unnamed candidate is not Barry Gardiner (above), a former Labour minister who received more than £600,000 from Miss Lee as part of a £670,000 wave of donations to Labour and the Liberal Democrats over the past 15 years

She secured a meeting with officials in the department in January 2018 to discuss immigration policy.

Miss Lee’s boasts of helping Chinese entrepreneurs seek opportunities in the UK and obtain visas have raised concerns she could have brought in other agents.

Sir Iain said: ‘How many of them are there? We have been utterly naive about her and her activities.

‘At the very least she should face a criminal investigation before being expelled.’ No 10 said yesterday it was ‘deeply concerning’ that a Chinese agent was able to target MPs in an attempt make British policy more favourable to Beijing.

A spokesman added ministers were committed to strengthening anti-espionage legislation through a new counter-state threats Bill.

The claims were dismissed as ‘highly irresponsible’ yesterday by a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman who accused the UK Government of being ‘too obsessed with James Bond 007 movies’.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London said: ‘We have no need and never seek to ‘buy influence’ in any foreign parliament.’

Miss 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

Miss 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

Revealed: Chinese Communist agent is the daughter of a Hong Kong immigrant who ran Chinese takeaways and restaurants

By ANDY DOLAN and KUMAIL JAFFER for the Daily Mail

The mother at the heart of the MI5 security alert is the daughter of a Hong Kong immigrant who ran Chinese takeaways and restaurants.

Miss 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.

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.

A profile on the company’s website says he is responsible for the ‘smooth running of the firm’ and that he has more than three decades of experience in property law.

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.

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. (Above, Miss Lee's office in London)

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. (Above, Miss Lee’s office in London)

‘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.

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

Miss Lee has spoken previously of her ‘troubled’ childhood in Belfast, where she attended a top boarding school. She recalled being bullied and teased ‘for her yellow skin and black eyes’. In a revealing YouTube video she also spoke about how she encouraged the ‘weaker boarders’ to get together and stand up to the bullies.

‘They didn’t know what to do at first so I started to teach them kung fu,’ she said. ‘I didn’t know much about kung fu, I just watched Bruce Lee on TV so I pretended I knew.’

But she claims her troubled childhood made her determined to ‘fight for her rights’ and inspired her to become a lawyer.

She has also previously said she was motivated by her father, who founded the Chinese Community Association in Belfast.

The Mail understands that he ran restaurants and takeaways in Northern Ireland and was listed as a director on one of Miss Lee’s many companies.

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