Report: Beijing behind cyberattacks on UK MPs and peers, deputy PM to warn

A group of British politicians has been targeted by Chinese cyberattacks, U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden will tell parliament on Monday, according to the Sunday Times.

Alison Giles, the parliament’s director of security, has called a group of MPs and peers, who are all members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), for a briefing on the matter, the newspaper said. The group comprises ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith; Tim Loughton, a former Conservative education minister; Lord Alton of Liverpool, a crossbench peer; and Scottish National Party MP Stewart McDonald, according to the report.

In 2021, Duncan Smith, Loughton and Alton were hit with sanctions by Beijing in a presumed act of retaliation after IPAC highlighted China’s “gross human rights violations.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron has also agreed to hold a meeting of backbench Tory MPs, which the Times report said is likely to include Cameron taking questions on China and security issues.

The paper quoted Luke de Pulford, executive director of IPAC, as saying: “About a year ago the Belgian and French foreign ministries publicly confirmed [Chinese state] sponsored cyberattacks against our members. Other countries have done the same privately. Beijing has made no secret of their desire to attack foreign politicians who dare to stand up to them.”

Last year, a parliamentary researcher was arrested over allegations of spying for Beijing. The researcher, Chris Cash, who denies the allegation, worked for the China Research Group, which was set up by Security Minister Tom Tugendhat. He was also employed as a researcher by Tory MP Alicia Kearns, who chairs the foreign affairs select committee.