Ex-Westminster insider says he is completely innocent over China spy claims

A British parliamentary researcher described as “seemingly normal”, “attractive” and “clearly into sports” has been arrested on suspicion of spying for China.

The suspect has vehemently denied the allegations and claims he is “completely innocent” and that spying would be “against everything I stand for”.

The well-connected suspect was closely linked with Tom Tugendhat and was an active member of Westminster’s social scene, organising bi-monthly drinks for civil servants, political aides and journalists.

Spooks are now investigating whether he passed sensitive material to Beijing.

READ MORE: China’s Westminster spy network ‘about to be exposed’ after Sunak’s showdown

The suspect is reported to be the son of a GP who grew up in a wealthy Edinburgh suburb and went to a local private school.

He then went on to study history at the University of St Andrews before teaching English literature to an international school in China.

When he came back, he went on to study China and globalisation at King’s College London before kick-starting his parliamentary career in 2021. He was hired as a researcher for the China Policy Group, a group co-founded by Tom Tugendhat. 

More recently, he was hired as a researcher by Alicia Kearns, chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee. 

In a statement released by his lawyers, Birnberg Peirce, he said: “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.

“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.

“To do what has been claimed against me in extravagant news reporting would be against everything I stand for.”

Noa Hoffman, political journalist at The Sun, said she was “impressed by his sweet profile” on the dating app Hinge.

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“Swiping through dating apps, you quickly learn how many weird men are out there and, importantly, how to avoid them,” she wrote in The Sun.

“What no one prepares you for are the warning signs you could be flirting with a spy for the Chinese. I matched with Mr. X on Hinge after being impressed by his sweet profile.

“He was attractive, clearly into sports and had a thriving social life.”

Ms Hoffman and the suspect arranged “swanky drinks” at a Covent Garden venue multiple times. But the date never took place as “something always came up” and she “eventually lost interest”.

The former researcher was arrested back in March for an alleged security breach although the details have only just become known.

The suspect, who was a parliamentary pass holder, didn’t have any security clearance but according to a source, any information shared would not need to be highly classified to be valuable to China. 

“It’s about networks and about influence,” the security source told The Times.

The initial approach from China was likely to be from someone he met abroad or during his parliamentary work, it has been reported.

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