Ex-parliamentary researcher and second man charged in China ‘spy’ investigation

A former parliamentary researcher and a second man have been charged with spying for China after an investigation by counter-terrorism police.

Christopher Cash, 29, from Whitechapel in east London, and Christopher Berry, 32, from Witney in Oxfordshire, are both accused of an offence under the Official Secrets Act, the Metropolitan Police said.

It is alleged that between January 2022 and February 2023 Cash “for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, obtained, collected, recorded, published or communicated to any other person articles, notes, documents or information which were calculated to be, might be, or were intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy”.

Cash worked as a parliamentary researcher and was closely linked to senior Tories including Tom Tugendhat – now security minister – and Alicia Kearns, who serves as chairwoman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

The 29-year-old was director of the China Research Group, which was initially chaired by Mr Tugendhat and then Ms Kearns, and had a sceptical view of the UK’s relationship with Beijing.

Ms Kearns said on X: “As this matter is now sub judice it is essential that neither I, nor anyone else, say anything that might prejudice a criminal trial relating to a matter of national security. I will not be commenting further.”

China dismissed the charges as “self-staged political farce”.

An embassy spokesman said: “The Chinese Embassy made (a) relevant response on September 10 2023.

“I would like to reaffirm that the claim that China is suspected of “stealing British intelligence” is completely fabricated and nothing but malicious slander.

“We firmly oppose it and urge the UK side to stop anti-China political manipulation and stop putting on such self-staged political farce.”

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This has been an extremely complex investigation into what are very serious allegations.

“We’ve worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service as our investigation has progressed and this has led to the two men being charged today.

“We’re aware there has been a degree of public and media interest in this case, but we would ask others to refrain from any further comment or speculation, so that the criminal justice process can now run its course.”

The two men have been bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told MPs that two people had been charged on a matter “relating to national security”, one of whom was a parliamentary pass holder.

He told the Commons: “This morning two people were charged with offences under the Official Secrets Act of 1911. One of those individuals was a parliamentary pass holder at the time of the alleged offences.

“This matter is now sub judice. Under the terms of the House’s resolution on matters of sub judice members should not refer to it in the chamber.

“I know that honourable and right honourable members will understand how important it is that we do not say anything in this place that might prejudice a criminal trial relating to a matter of national security.”

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