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Parliamentary researcher with links to several senior Tory MPs arrested on suspicion of ‘spying for China’

A parliamentary researcher with links to several senior Tory MPs has been arrested on suspicion of spying for China, it is claimed.

The male suspect, who is in his late 20s, was arrested along with another man on March 13 on suspicion of spying for Beijing, The Sunday Times reported.

It is alleged the man had links to politicians with ‚Äúprivy to classified or highly sensitive information,‚ÄĚ including security minister Tom Tugendhat and foreign affairs committee chairwoman Alicia Kearns.

Officials fear he was recruited by China as a sleeper agent while living and working in China, before being sent back to the UK to infiltrate.

Scotland Yard said in response to the claims, two men have been arrested under the Official Secrets Act amid the allegations.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, which oversees espionage-related offences, are investigating.

One of the men, in his 30s, was detained in Oxfordshire on March 13, while the other, in his 20s, was arrested in Edinburgh, Scotland Yard said.

Both were held on suspicion of offences under section one of the Official Secrets Act 1911, which punishes offences that are said to be ‚Äúprejudicial to the safety or interests of the state‚ÄĚ.

‚ÄúSearches were also carried out at both the residential properties, as well as at a third address in east London,‚ÄĚ a statement from the force said.

Both men were held at a south London police station until being bailed until early October.

Mr Tugendhat is said not to have had any contact with the researcher since before he became security minister in September last year.

Ms Kearns declined to comment, adding: ‚ÄúWhile I recognise the public interest, we all have a duty to ensure any work of the authorities is not jeopardised.‚ÄĚ

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China pressure group said it was ‚Äúappalled at reports of the infiltration of the UK Parliament by someone allegedly acting on behalf of the People‚Äôs Republic of China‚ÄĚ.

A source close to Ms Kearns said: ‚ÄúIt is inevitable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would target and seek to undermine Parliament‚Äôs leading voices who have demonstrated the ability to constrain the CCP‚Äôs ambitions.‚ÄĚ

They said that the allegations, if true, would be a ‚Äúserious escalation and shows the CCP will go to any length to attack thorns in their side‚ÄĚ.

A report from Parliament‚Äôs spy agency watchdog, the Intelligence and Security Committee, warned in July that Beijing is targeting the UK ‚Äúprolifically and aggressively‚ÄĚ.

Last year, MI5 issued a rare security alert, warning MPs that a suspected Chinese spy called Christine Lee had engaged in ‚Äúpolitical interference activities‚ÄĚ on behalf of China‚Äôs ruling communist regime.

Labour MP Barry Gardiner, the former chairman of the now disbanded Chinese in Britain APPG, received more than £500,000 in donations from her before the warning.

Ms Lee denies the claims and is suing MI5 over the allegations.

The arrests emerged a little over a week after Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visited Beijing amid criticism from some senior Conservatives, who are critics of China.

He insisted the UK would have a ‚Äúpragmatic‚ÄĚ relationship with China to tackle major global issues such as climate change.

Downing Street told i it does not comment on operational security matters.

The House of Commons has been contacted for comment.

Additional reporting by Press Asssociation.

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