Christine Lee’s penetration into the heart of the British political establishment was astonishingly successful.
The Chinese lawyer accompanied in full view of the prime ministers, her peers and senior lawmakers, pumping hundreds of thousands of pounds into the coffers of both Labor and Conservative parties, as she sought, according to MI5, to expand Beijing’s influence.
Her law firm, which has offices in London, Birmingham, China and Hong Kong, funded the office of former Labor MP and Corbyn ally Barry Gardiner, in excess of £500,000 over five years, and her son Daniel Wilkes worked in the same office as his memoir secretary with his parliamentary pass for several years. – At least until his sudden resignation today.
A long line of politicians from all sides of the House were also happy to associate with Ms. Lee until the dreaded MI5 assessment of her ‘intervention’ – which is secretly seeking influence – was released on high alert.
She 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 Secretary in the coalition government.
She was so famous in Westminster that just two years ago Lee received a glowing acclaim from Theresa May as she received a Points of Light award for making a difference in her community.
Kristen Lee’s political influence in both Britain and China becomes clear when you consider that Li, a married twice-married mother of two, has been photographed with both David Cameron (photographed together at the GG2 British Leadership Awards in 2015) and Chinese President Xi Jinbin.
Her law firm, which has offices in London, Birmingham, China and Hong Kong, has funded the office of former Labor MP and Corbyn ally Barry Gardiner, in excess of £500,000 over five years. Pictured: Lee with Gardiner outside the Houses of Parliament in 2013
In a statement issued by Downing Street, Ms May said: “You should be very proud of the difference the ‘British-China Project’ is making in promoting engagement, understanding and cooperation between the Chinese and British communities in the UK.
“I also wish you success in your work to promote the integration and participation of the British Chinese people in the UK political system.”
Her political influence in both Britain and China becomes clear when you consider that Li, a married mother of two, has been photographed with both David Cameron and China’s President Xi Jinbin.
China Daily described her firm as “the only Chinese-owned British law firm approved by the Chinese government to set up offices in China”.
Lee’s influence in Westminster and her friendship with Gardiner dates back to 2004 when she founded the British-Chinese organization, which she claimed was a “voluntary, non-partisan organization seeking to increase the presence of the Chinese community in the British political arena.” Gardiner once headed the group.
She managed the group with her other son Michael Wilkes. Research revealed that both Lee and Wilkes had previously congratulated Conservative MP Alan Mack on his electoral victory in 2015 and the CCP referred to our “Chinese candidates”.
Ms Li, a London-based lawyer and former chief legal adviser to the Chinese Embassy in London, spoke to former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2016. She is also the secretary of the Chinese party group in Westminster.
A warning note has been sent to all MPs and counterparts in Westminster today by the Speaker’s Parliamentary Security Team, and no politician is suspected of any crime.
Parliamentarians have been told that Kristen Lee has been under surveillance by the security services for some time but has not been arrested and has not been expelled as is.
Gardiner also formed in 2011 an all-party group to represent Chinese citizens in Britain, which has since been dissolved.
It was this closeness to Lee that Mr. Gardiner chose to retain two years ago when the Daily Mail published a groundbreaking book on so-called “tiger women” like Ms. Lee, who was accused of promoting Beijing’s interests in Britain. .
One such interest was undoubtedly Energy, Gardiner’s former Shadow Energy Minister. The leader of the Liberal Democratic Party was now Sir Ed Davey, Minister of Energy during the coalition government when he also received a donation of £5,000 to his office, and the same amount to his party in 2013.
Gardiner was supportive of China’s attempts to get more involved in the British nuclear industry, including at the Hinckley Point power plant.
Kristen Lee snapped with Keith Won at a Chinese action event in 2016
Kristen Lee snapped with Tom Watson at a Chinese for Labor event in 2016
In 2017, The Times reported that Gardiner, a minister in Tony Blair’s cabinet, had “taken a generally pro-Beijing stance”. She said that in his previous role as shadow energy minister, he supported China’s involvement in the UK’s nuclear energy industry.
When asked in the past about his financial support from Miss Lee, Mr. Gardiner has reportedly said he was not “improperly requested by or influenced by his ‘law firm’ in connection with his conduct as a Member of Parliament or a Labor spokesperson”. There is no indication of misbehavior.
A book called The Invisible Hand by Professor Clive Hamilton and Marek Olberg referred to these politicians courted by Mrs. Lee and others like her, as “useful idiots”.
Mr. Gardiner’s secretary said yesterday that he had been in contact with MI5 for a number of years about Ms. Lee and his involvement with her company and political donations. What he didn’t say was what the intelligence chiefs’ view on the arrangement was.
Today’s MI5 warning made just that clear.
Christine Lee 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 Secretary in the coalition government.
He uses Kristen Lee & Co’s Twitter account, which bears the phrase “Serving Chinese Society for 20 Years,” to express the accolades his boss has received from Beijing.
In 2017, they tweeted: “Congratulations! Ms. Christine Li has been appointed as the Chinese Overseas Legal Counsel in Beijing.”
In 2006, Lee founded the British-Chinese Project (BCP), which aims to “empower Chinese society in the UK, making them aware of their democratic rights and responsibilities, while ensuring that society’s needs and interests are heard at a political level”.
It seemed a worthwhile multicultural institution but its Chinese name has different echoes. It translates as “British-Chinese participation in politics”, and linked it to the policy of Huarin Kanzeng’s penetration of the Chinese Communist Party to maximize political influence in democracies by promoting trusted people of Chinese descent.
Lee married in Birmingham in 1985 to a man named John Sheng, then married British lawyer Martin Wilkes in Solihull, West Midlands in 1990.
Their eldest son Michael, 30 – now also a lawyer – was born in 1991 and brother Daniel, 27, in 1994 and the family lives in the leafy Birmingham suburb of Colchill. Both sons were born in Birmingham.
Martin Wilkes, along with Ms. Lee, is listed as Director of Christine Lee & Co (Solicitors) Ltd. Other attorneys listed in the Companies House documents are David Tat Wai Ho and Jennifer Ho.
Political website Guido Fawkes reported yesterday that Lee ran BCP along with her son Michael and in 2015 the duo congratulated Tory MP Alan Mack on his general election victory, referring to our “Chinese candidates”.
Mr. Mack – now a government whip – told Guido he had never met [and] I didn’t talk to him [Lee]’, adding that BCP was a “bad group” that he “always stayed away from”.