Researcher arrested for 'spying for China' says he is 'completely innocent'

The man was arrested in Edinburgh on suspicion of offences under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911.

A parliamentary researcher who has been arrested on suspicion of spying for China has said he is “completely innocent”.

The man, in his 20s, said he had spent his career highlighting the “challenge and threats presented by the Chinese Communist Party”.

He was arrested in Edinburgh in March, Scotland Yard said, on suspicion of offences under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 – which punishes offences that are said to be “prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state”.

The arrest led to the Prime Minister confronting Chinese premier Li Qiang at the G20 summit in India on Sunday over “unacceptable” interference in democracy.

The researcher, who had links with senior Tories including security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns, has released a statement through 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.”

The Commons Speaker will make a statement on Monday in relation to the reports of a parliamentary researcher being arrested on suspicion of spying for Beijing.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle will address the chamber at 2.30pm, the Commons Press Office said.

Home secretary Suella Braverman wants China to be relabelled as a threat to Britain’s safety and interests under new national security laws.

Anyone working “at the direction” of China or a state-linked firm would have to register and disclose their activities or risk jail under the plans.

The Briton was arrested along with another man by officers on March 13 on suspicion of spying for Beijing, it was revealed by the Sunday Times.

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

The other man, in his 30s, was detained in Oxfordshire.

They have both been bailed until early October.