Ex-Parliamentary researcher ordered not to contact MPs after China spy charges

Ex-Parliamentary researcher ordered not to contact MPs after China spy charges

A former parliamentary researcher has been ordered not to contact MPs after being charged with spying for China.

Christopher Cash, 29, from Whitechapel in east London, alongside Christopher Berry, 32, from Witney in Oxfordshire, is accused of an offence under the Official Secrets Act.

The pair appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday but were not required to enter any pleas to the charge.

Cash and Berry are accused of being in contact with each other and an individual assessed to be a Chinese intelligence agent.

They spoke only to confirm their name and address during a short hearing.

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring granted both men conditional bail, which in Cash’s case included not to contact MPs or to enter the parliamentary estate.

Cash was told he was permitted to contact his local MP on constituency matters.

China spying court case
Former parliamentary researcher Christopher Cash arrives at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday (Jeff Moore/PA)

He was also ordered not to contact any other staff of parliamentarians.

Cash and Berry were also told not to travel outside the UK and not to contact each other. They were also ordered to sign on at a police station.

The pair must also notify police of any internet-enabled device they intend to use.

Both defendants will next appear at the Old Bailey on May 10 for a preliminary hearing.

Berry worked in various teaching posts in China since September 2015 and was arrested while on holiday in the UK.

The charge alleges that between January 2022 and February 2023, 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”.

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

China has dismissed the charges as “self-staged political farce”.

China spying court case
Christopher Berry is also accused of an offence under the Official Secrets Act (Jeff Moore/PA)

Cash worked as a parliamentary researcher and was closely linked to senior Tories including Tom Tugendhat – now security minister – and Alicia Kearns, who serves as chairwoman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

He was director of the China Research Group, which was initially chaired by Mr Tugendhat and then Ms Kearns, and had a sceptical view of the UK’s relationship with Beijing.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle previously told MPs two people had been charged on a matter “relating to national security”, one of whom was a parliamentary pass holder.