James Cleverly Stonewalls On China Talks In Excruciating BBC Interview

The foreign secretary repeatedly told Laura Kuenssberg he could not comment on security matters.
James Cleverly repeatedly refused to answer Laura Kuenssberg's question.
James Cleverly repeatedly refused to answer Laura Kuenssberg's question.

James Cleverly repeatedly refused to answer questions about an alleged Commons spy during an excruciating interview.

The foreign secretary was quizzed by Laura Kuenssberg on whether he had raised the issue during a recent trip to China.

It followed reports that a former Conservative parliamentary researcher spied for the Chinese - allegations the man in question has denied.

Cleverly held talks with Chinese officials during a visit to the country before the story broke in last week’s Sunday Times.

Appearing on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg this morning, Cleverly was asked if he had raised the “specific case of the arrest of somebody alleged to spy for China in parliament”.

The foreign secretary replied: “As you know, we do not comment on intelligence or security-related matters.”

He said the he had “raised with the Chinese authorities their actions which are seeking to undermine or distort our democracy”.

Kuenssberg said UK officials had briefed in the past that Cleverly had previosuly raised the issue of Jimmy Lai, a British citizen and prominent critic of the Chinese Communist Party who has been detained since 2021.

She added: “Sometimes politicians are absolutely willing to tell us what they raised in meetings, so did you or did you not raise the specific case of this alleged spying case in parliament?”

But Cleverly said that was a “consulate” rather than security case.

″On intelligence and security matters, we do not comment,” he said.

Kuenssberg then asked a third time whether the case of the alleged Commons spy had been raised during Cleverly’s talks in China.

He replied: “You can keep asking and I’ll keep giving the same answer - we do not comment in intelligence and security issues.”

The presenter said: “So would our viewers be wrong to take from that that you did not raise this case specifically with the Chinese authorities?”

The foreign secretary replied: What I’m saying is we don’t comment on intelligence and security-related issues.”


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