Two Britons to face trial next year accused of spying for China

By Thomson Reuters May 10, 2024 | 6:00 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – Two Britons, including a former researcher for a prominent British lawmaker in the governing Conservative Party, were told on Friday they would go on trial next year accused of spying for China.

The men, ex-researcher Christopher Cash, 29, and Christopher Berry, 32, were charged last month with providing prejudicial information to China in breach of the Official Secrets Act.

Cash and Berry, who have not yet entered a plea, appeared for a brief hearing at London’s Old Bailey Court on Friday where they spoke only to confirm their names and date of birth.

They were told their trial would take place in the spring or summer of next year, and both were released on bail until a hearing on Oct. 4.

Anxiety has mounted across Europe about China’s alleged espionage activity – which Beijing has repeatedly denied – and Britain has become increasingly vocal about its concerns in recent months.

In a speech last month in Warsaw, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Chinese state-affiliated actors had conducted “malicious cyber campaigns” against British lawmakers.

Earlier this week, Sunak said a “malign actor” had probably compromised the payments system used by the British armed forces, with British media saying China was believed to be behind the cyber attack, accusations Beijing described as absurd.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Sarah Young)