Chinese Spy

Sunday Times

Starting with the vaguest tip that there were concerns that Parliament had been infiltrated by a hostile state, the Sunday Times political team, lead by Caroline Wheeler, began a meticulous investigation that would ultimately unmask a suspected Chinese spy working in the heart of Parliament for a prominent MP and an organisation set up by a cabinet minister. We discovered quite quickly that there were strong rumours to suggest an alleged Chinese spy had been found to be working for an MP. Following a trail of intelligence from trusted sources, we discovered that Alicia Kearns, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, was one of the MPs involved. From there, Caroline began a global hunt for the alleged spy that saw her speaking to sources in the United States and the Far East as she painstakingly eliminated potential suspects before correctly arriving at the identity of the individual concerned.

To the shock of her team, she learned that the suspect was not only British but had been employed by the China Research Group - a hawkish anti-China Tory pressure group - which had been set up by Tom Tugenhadt before he had become the security minister. Despite being stonewalled by the authorities at every turn, the huge public interest in this story spurred the team on. Collectively their detective work enabled them to confirm the story from credible sources and publish the scoop, which gained global traction and overshadowed the first day of the G7 summit in Delhi, raising serious security questions just weeks after Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee warned that the Chinese threat was not being taken seriously enough and that the hostile state had “penetrated every security of the UK’s economy”.