A charity which was founded by Prince Philip was infiltrated by Chinese intelligence officers, reports have claimed.
The foreign spies worked their way into the company of those who run FaithInvest, a charity co-founded by the late Prince Philip in 1995 to help faiths develop environmental and conservation projects based on their own beliefs and practices.
According to the Sun newspaper, the Chinese agents met with the Prince at Windsor in 2017.
The outlet claims the intelligence officers were working through the China Taoist Association but were actually controlled by Beijing’s United Front Work Department.
The UFWD was accused by MI5 this month of seeking to ‘covertly interfere’ with British politics in a security alert to MPs.
Reports have surfaced suggesting that a charity founded by Martin Palmer and Prince Philip (pictured together) called FaithInvest was infiltrated by Chinese intelligence officers in 2017
The group reportedly teamed up with FaithInvest so they could send agents to meet with the Duke of Edinburgh in 2017, conduct operations and buy influence.
They also met with Prince Philip through activities associated with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) – a separate charity also set up by Mr Palmer and Prince Philip.
A source said: ‘The United Front Work Department is used to present a more acceptable face to a fairly unpleasant regime.
‘But they are also involved in ruthless intelligence and foreign interference activities as well.’
There is no suggestion Prince Philip or the charity’s other co-founder Martin Palmer knew the organisation had been compromised, the Sun says.
When the allegations were put to Mr Palmer, he told the Sun he had worked with groups from different faiths since the 1990s.
He added: ‘The China Taoist Association has played a major role in discussions on faiths and ecology, both in China and within Chinese communities around the world.
‘That is why Prince Philip, who founded ARC, met the Taoists on a number of occasions.’
Parliamentarians were told Christine Lee (pictured) has been monitored by the security services for some time but has not been arrested and is not being expelled as it stands
It comes after MI5 accused the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of seeking to ‘covertly interfere’ with British politics in a security alert to MPs earlier this month.
MPs were warned in a bombshell email this week to avoid contact with Coventry-based solicitor Christine Lee, 58, who has been monitored by the security services for some time and was identified by MI5 as an agent of the UFWD agency.
She has not been arrested and is not being expelled as it stands, but a warning memo was sent to all MPs and peers in Westminster by the Speaker’s Parliamentary security team.
MI5 said Lee had ‘facilitated’ donations to British political parties and legislators ‘on behalf of foreign nationals’.
In a dramatic intervention, MI5 accused the 58-year-old of working on behalf of China’s powerful UFWD agency to corrupt politicians.
Yesterday it was revealed the wife of Tory peer Lord Bates shook hands with China’s President Xi Jinping during a Beijing meeting of a group linked to the UFWD.
Christine Lee is pictured with Labour MP Barry Gardiner outside Houses of Parliament in 2013
Pictured: Lady Bates (circled) met and shook the hand of President Xi Jinping after applauding him at a conference of the Chinese Overseas Friendship Association (Cofa) in May 2019
Xuelin Li Bates, who has donated £206,000 to the Conservative Party since 2010, met and shook the hand of the President at a conference of the Chinese Overseas Friendship Association (Cofa) in May 2019.
The Tory donor, 60, travelled to Beijing for the meeting of Cofa’s council, held twice a decade, part of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) which has responsibility for intelligence and propaganda operations worldwide.
President Xi gave a speech in which he praised attendees and offered ‘sincere congratulations’ on behalf of his Chinese Communist Party at the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, according to state media.
She applauded the President and was captured on camera shaking his hand following the speech, The Sunday Times reports.
Lady Bates married Tory peer Lord Bates in July 2012 after arriving in London in 1989 fresh out of a Chinese university and with just £50 to her name.
Lord Bates served as minister under Theresa May, David Cameron and John Major.
The couple met at a private dinner she was hosting for the Speaker of the North Korean parliament.
Lord Bates had long been interested in the secretive state and he was also a friend of its closest ally, China.
In Hidden Hand, a book published in 2020, Xuelin was named as ‘a prominent influencer on China matters’ and claimed she had succeeded in positioning herself close to Britain’s top elites, where she could spread a ‘Chinese perspective’.