A shadow minister is being funded by a law firm with links to the Chinese state, an investigation by The Times has established. Barry Gardiner, shadow international trade secretary, has received more than £180,000 in staff costs from the firm that acts as chief legal adviser to the Chinese embassy. At the same time Mr Gardiner, 59, has been employing the son of the firm’s founder in his Westminster office. Parliamentary records show that the donations partly fund the son’s salary. Mr Gardiner has generally taken a pro-Beijing stance in his shadow portfolios. In his previous role as shadow energy secretary, he supported Chinese involvement in Britain’s nuclear power industry. He has spoken out strongly in favour of the Hinkley Point power station, which is being built in financial partnership with a Chinese state energy giant. Mr Gardiner has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Chinese community in Britain. A Labour source said that he strongly opposed internal party criticism of Chinese involvement in the Hinkley Point project. He has also called on Theresa May to tell Beijing that Britain wanted strong Chinese investment in infrastructure projects.
The Times 4th Feb 2017 read more »
When Theresa May postponed the deal on a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point last year, the Labour MP Barry Gardiner criticised her for “offending the Chinese government”. This was only one of numerous interventions on China made by Mr Gardiner, now the shadow trade secretary, over the past 18 months. That makes it all the more worrying that, as The Times reveals today, he has received payments of more than £180,000 from a firm with links to the Chinese state, while the son of its founder was working in his Westminster office. Mr Gardiner declared the payments and denies any impropriety. The parliamentary authorities will doubtless want to investigate. According to official records, Mr Gardiner started receiving donations from Christine Lee & Co, a Birmingham-based law firm, shortly after he was appointed to his previous post of shadow energy minister in 2015. Ms Lee’s son, Daniel Wilkes, has also for many months been working as a researcher in the MP’s office. The firm represents Chinese companies and boasts of its links to the Chinese government. Ms Lee has provided legal services to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, and is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. If the commercial relationship and Mr Gardiner’s positions on China were merely coincidental, it betrays not venality so much as naivety. China has repeatedly demonstrated its appetite for covert interference in the domestic affairs of other countries in order to further its commercial interests and buttress its ambitions for global superpower status. Its world-beating credentials in cyberespionage and penchant for intellectual property theft are well established. It is precisely for this reason that the involvement of a Chinese state-controlled company in the Hinkley Point project was a cause for concern in the first place. Chinese investment in industry is not, in itself, objectionable. Indeed it is welcome. The involvement in critical infrastructure of a state that flouts international law and snatches secrets with abandon is another matter. Mr Gardiner should have known better than to embroil his office with its associates.
Times 4th Feb 2017 read more »