Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons in Britain’s Parliament, on Monday warned Ministers against speaking about an ongoing investigation into Chinese spying in the UK.
Referring to media reports Sunday “about a security issue relating to the Chinese state and access to this House” Hoyle noted that UK Metropolitan Police had confirmed the arrest of two men back in March on suspicion of “offenses relating to espionage.”
Further, Hoyle said he wanted to reassure House members that the chamber follows the “same vetting procedures” as the government and that House security was “working closely and effectively with other relevant authorities” to address concerns raised in those media reports.
The “small number of people” who needed to know about the security issue were “immediately briefed” on a “strictly confidential basis” given the national security sensitivities of the matter, according to Hoyle.
That reassurance came after a warning from the Speaker, who said, “As you know, we do not discuss the details of security issues on the floor of House for reasons which are well understood.”
Hoyle noted that the two men are out on bail until early next month, adding that this is an “ongoing sensitive investigation” and public discussion of it would be “wholly inappropriate.”
He further warned that engaging in speculation about the case or discussing other details “runs a serious risk of prejudicing any future prosecutions,” and that comments already made in the media “were unhelpful.”
At least one of the arrested men, a Briton in his late 20s whose name has not been made public, was reportedly arrested under Britain’s Official Secrets Act while working as a parliamentary researcher.
He released a statement through his lawyers denying that he’s a spy for China and rather has spent his career trying to “educate others” about the “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 arrested Briton said.
During the G-20 in New Delhi, India on Sunday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and raised “very strong concerns about any interference in our parliamentary democracy, which is obviously unacceptable.”