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Parliamentary researcher among two men charged with spying for China under Official Secrets act

A parliamentary researcher is among two British men who have been charged with spying for China after an investigation by counter-terrorism police.

Christopher Cash, 29, from Whitechapel in east London, a former researcher for Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, has been accused of an offence under the Official Secrets Act, the Metropolitan Police said.

Christopher Berry, 32, from Witney in Oxfordshire, also faces the same charge.

It is alleged that between January 2022 and February 2023 Mr 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”.

Mr Berry is accused of the same offence between December 2021 and February 2023.

Mr Cash is understood to have worked as a parliamentary researcher and was closely linked to senior Tories including Tom Tugendhat – now security minister – and Ms Kearns, who serves as chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr Cash was director of Tory MPs’ China Research Group, which was initially chaired by Mr Tugendhat and then Ms Kearns.

After he was charged, Ms Kearns posted on X: “Regarding the Crown Prosecution’s announcement this afternoon that two men will be charged on espionage offences on behalf of China: 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.”

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s 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 (CPS) 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.”

Nick Price, head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, added: “Christopher Berry, 32, and Christopher Cash, 29, will be charged with providing prejudicial information to a foreign state, China, and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 26 April.

“Criminal proceedings against the defendants are active. No one should report, comment or share information online which could in any way prejudice their right to a fair trial.”