‘Are you a useful idiot?’ Dale challenges Barry Gardiner in tense China spying probe

Barry Gardiner grilled by Iain Dale on alleged agent scandal

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Labour’s Barry Gardiner came under pressure after it emerged he had close contact with an alleged China operative, Christine Lee, after accepting generous donations from Ms Lee. LBC host Iain Dale did not hold back on the Labour MP for his close collaboration with Ms Lee and her son, who has now resigned from his employment since the allegations broke. Mr Gardiner kept his calm during the interview despite admitting “I’m very angry about it” when explaining his side of the situation.

Mr Dale said: “Are you a useful idiot? I mean why did they choose you?”

Mr Gardiner said: “Well I assume they believe that I was somebody who would play a role in the political system in this country.

“And that they might at some stage, be able to leverage that. They haven’t been able to and I’ve made sure that they’ve not been able to.

“By the precautions that I’ve taken, by speaking to the security services, by being open and transparent in all cases.

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Mr Gardiner added: “And by making sure, that actually at all stages I speak my mind.

“Whether it’s about China or about anything else.”

Mr Dale said: “A lot of people in your constituency will be listening to this, do you have a message for them?”

Mr Gardiner said: “Yes, I would like them to know that the reason I’ve had people who were working in my office paid for by Christine Lee.

“Was precisely so I could offer a better service to them.

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Mr Gardiner added: “I had caseworkers employed, who were then providing my constituents with good service.

“I don’t regret the fact that they did that, clearly somebody was trying to leverage and abuse that relationship.

“And that friendship that I had with them, ultimately to gain some advantage in the future.

“They haven’t been able to do that, I’m very glad they haven’t and I’m very angry about it.”


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MI5 first alerted Sir Lindsay Hoyle via email after months of investigating potential attempts to breach the Parliamentary security.

The email read: “I am writing now to draw your attention to the attached Interference Alert issued by the Security Services, MI5, about the activities of an individual, Christine Lee, who has been engaged in political interference activities on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, engaging with Members here at Parliament and associated political entities, including the former APPG: Chinese in Britain.

“I should highlight the fact that Lee has facilitated financial donations to serving and aspiring parliamentarians on behalf of foreign nationals based in Hong Kong and China.

“This facilitation was done covertly to mask the origins of the payments.

“This is clearly unacceptable behaviour and steps are being taken to ensure it ceases.”

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