UK’s MI5 warned Conservatives over possible Chinese spy candidates – Times

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, warned the governing Conservative Party that two potential candidates to become lawmakers could be spies for China, and the party blocked them, the Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.

MI5 raised concerns that two candidates in 2021 and 2022 had specific Chinese links and the Conservatives acted upon the advice, removing them from featuring in the pool of candidates who could be put forward for election, the newspaper said.

Health and social care minister Maria Caulfield told Times Radio the government took any intelligence about Chinese interference “very seriously”.

“Swift action was taken, they were removed from the list, they’re not standing for election,” she said.

Asked about the Times report, a Conservative Party spokesman said: “When we receive credible information regarding security concerns over potential candidates we act upon them.”

The report comes at a time of growing anxiety about China after news on Sunday that a parliamentary researcher in Britain had been arrested in March on suspicion of spying for China.

China said earlier in the week those allegations were made up and urged relevant parties to stop anti-China political manipulation and “self-directed political farce”.

Britain’s security services have long warned politicians about the threat posed to parliament, and last year, MI5 Director General Ken McCallum said the Chinese authorities were playing “the long game” in cultivating contacts.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Elizabeth Piper and Alison Williams)