2 Britons accused of spying for China, to face trial for breaching UK secrets act

Two Britons, including a former researcher for a prominent British lawmaker in the governing Conservative Party, were told on Friday they would go on trial next year accused of spying for China.

The men, ex-researcher Christopher Cash, 29, and Christopher Berry, 32, were charged last month with providing prejudicial information to China in breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Cash and Berry, who have not yet entered a plea, appeared for a brief hearing at London’s Old Bailey Court on Friday, where they spoke only to confirm their names and date of birth.

They were told their trial would take place in the spring or summer of next year, and both were released on bail until a hearing on October 4.

Christopher Berry leaves from the Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court, in London on Friday. Photo: AFP

Cash previously worked at the UK parliament as a researcher, where he had contact with senior Conservative members of parliament.

He is accused of having “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”.

He is alleged to have committed the offence between January 2022 and February last year.

Berry, who held various teaching posts in China from 2015, is accused of the same offence between December 2021 and February 2023.

The charges were announced on the same day that prosecutors in Germany arrested three German nationals on suspicion of sharing information on maritime technology with Beijing.

Former UK parliamentary researcher Christopher Cash, who is charged with spying for China, arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on April 26. Photo EPA-EFE

The authorities in Beijing have dismissed both as an attempt to “smear and suppress” China.

Anxiety has mounted across Europe about China’s alleged espionage activity – which Beijing has repeatedly denied – and Britain has become increasingly vocal about its concerns in recent months.

In a speech last month in Warsaw, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Chinese state-affiliated actors had conducted “malicious cyber campaigns” against British lawmakers.

Earlier this week, Sunak said a “malign actor” had probably compromised the payments system used by the British Armed Forces, with British media saying China was believed to be behind the cyberattack, accusations Beijing described as absurd.



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