Sun. May 26th, 2024
alert-–-suburban-life-of-china-spy-suspects-as-neighbours-say-one-‘keeps-himself-to-himself’Alert – Suburban life of China spy suspects as neighbours say one ‘keeps himself to himself’

Neighbours of a China spy suspect have told of their shock after he appeared in court today accused of espionage.

Chi Leung Wai, 38, also known as Peter Wai, is among three men set to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court accused of breaching the National Security Act by assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service.

One resident of the tranquil village of Stanwell Moor told how Mr Wai, who works at Heathrow Airport for UK Border Force, lived a quiet life at a modest two-bedroom terraced house near to the airport.

The neighbour who declined to give his name said: ‘Wow, I can’t believe it. I know who he is but to be honest he keeps himself to himself. He used to live there with a girlfriend but I haven’t seen her since Christmas.’

The window blinds had been pulled down and there was no sign of life at terrace house today. The front garden had also been left to grow wild.

It comes as the Foreign Office summoned the Chinese Ambassador following allegations of ‘foreign interference on UK soil’.

Chi Leung Wai leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court where he was freed on bail after appearing charged under the National Security Act

Chi Leung Wai (pictured) is charged under new legislation brought in last year to target those working secretly for hostile states within the UK

Chi Leung Wai pictured leaving Westminster Magistrates’ Court (left) yesterday

Chung Biu Yuen, 63, leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court yesterday after being released on bail

Chung Biu Yuen pictured in 2002 on a motorcycle

Chung Biu Yuen pictured leaving court yesterday (left) and pictured on a motorcycle in 2002 (right)

Matthew Trickett pictured leaving court yesterday

Matthew Trickett, a former Royal Marine, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court today accused of spying for Hong Kong

Trickett appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday accused of spying for Hong Kong, he was pictured (left) leaving the court yesterday

Mr Wai, who also volunteers as a special constable for the City of London Police, is accused of allegedly carrying out surveillance and hostile reconnaissance on pro-democracy activists in the UK for the Hong Kong intelligence service. 

He was charged alongside former Royal Marine, Matthew Trickett, 37, who currently works as an immigration enforcement officer for the Home Office.

A third man, Chung Biu Yuen, 63, a retired Hong Kong police officer now employed as a trade official, is also accused of allegedly assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service.

Espionage suspect Chung Yuen refused to discuss allegations that he been spying for Hong Kong when he returned to his upmarket east London home following his appearance in court today.

Yesterday, China blasted the charges, with its London embassy saying it ‘strongly condemns’ the ‘unwarranted accusation’ against the Hong Kong government.

It comes after the Home Office has ordered a review into recruitment and vetting. 

In an extraordinary espionage case which is the first of its kind, the defendants are alleged to have carried out surveillance operations in the UK on behalf of Hong Kong authorities, allegedly targeting dissidents of the regime.

It is the first time that anyone has been charged with spying on British soil for the Hong Kong intelligence service.

The trio were charged under the new National Security Act brought in last year to target those working secretly for hostile states within the UK.

Heathrow worker Chi Leung Wai, 38, is also accused of carrying out surveillance and hostile reconnaissance on pro-democracy activists in the UK

Heathrow worker Chi Leung Wai, 38, is also accused of carrying out surveillance and hostile reconnaissance on pro-democracy activists in the UK 

Chi Leung Wai wore a face mask as he left the court building on Monday

Chi Leung Wai wore a face mask as he left the court building on Monday

They are accused of ‘hostile activity which includes information-gathering, hostile surveillance, acts of deception and forcing entry into a UK residential address.’

The ‘primary targets’ are said to be pro-democracy campaigners from the Hong Kong diaspora now based in the UK.

But China’s London embassy told The Telegraph: ‘We strongly condemn the UK’s unwarranted accusation against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.’ 

Tom Tugendhat, the UK’s security minister, is preparing to order new guidance to police on how to spot Chinese campaigns in the country.

He told the newspaper they will ‘not tolerate attempts to threaten, harass or silence people in the UK’.

The Telegraph reported that the Home Office has ordered a review of Border Force and Immigration Enforcement recruitment, vetting and supervision after the allegations came to light.

The newspaper reported a source from within the organisation as saying: ‘We take all cases of potential internal misconduct incredibly seriously, immediate steps are always taken to ensure that risks are managed swiftly. As is normal practice for cases like these we are reviewing our processes.’

The three men are alleged to have broken into the home of one of their targets in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, on May 1 this year.

Yesterday, all three appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for a brief hearing just hours after Scotland Yard announced the charges.

No pleas were entered during the hearing.

They stand charged with allegedly assisting a foreign intelligence service between 20 December 2023 and 2 May 2024 by engaging in conduct, namely agreeing to undertake information-gathering, surveillance and acts of deception.

The trio also face a second charge of foreign interference on May 1 2024, by engaging in ‘prohibited conduct, namely, forcing entry into a UK residential address’.

It can now be revealed that Wai, who is known as Peter, is a joint Hong Kong and British national living in Staines, Surrey, who has posed for photographs on social media wearing a Metropolitan Police uniform.

Court sketch of the three defendants appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, and, inset, a security van leaves the west London courthouse

Court sketch of the three defendants appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and, inset, a security van leaves the west London courthouse 

The home of Hong Kong spy suspect Chi Leung Wai, in Staines, Surrey, who neighbours said kept himself to himself

The home of Hong Kong spy suspect Chi Leung Wai, in Staines, Surrey, who neighbours said kept himself to himself

An apartment block where Chung Biu Yuen lives. Neighbours told of their surprise that he had been arrested

An apartment block where Chung Biu Yuen lives. Neighbours told of their surprise that he had been arrested

According to his website, he is the founder and director of D5 Security and has over 20 years’ experience in the British military, police and private security sector.

His co-defendant Trickett, 37, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, also served in the military as a Royal Marine between 2007 and 2013.

He was formerly employed by the UK Border Force at Heathrow, before joining Home Office Immigration Enforcement on February 21 this year.

He is also the director of a security consultancy firm formed in April 2021 called MTR Consultancy.

The third defendant Yuen, who is known as Billy, lives in Dalston, East London, and works as the office manager for the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Bloomsbury, Central London.

He refused to discuss the allegations when he returned to the upmarket home following his appearance in court.

Dressed casually in corduroy trousers and a grey jacket, Yeun declined to give an explanation for the charges against him.

However neighbours told of their surprise that he had been arrested.

One said: ‘I could not believe that he was arrested. He is a model neighbour.’

And there was similar shock in Wai’s Surrey neighbourhood. 

Chi Leung Wai, pictured in a police uniform, volunteers as a special constable for the City of London Police

Chi Leung Wai, pictured in a police uniform, volunteers as a special constable for the City of London Police

One local, who declined to give his name, said Wai lived a quiet life at the modest two-bedroom terraced house near Heathrow airport.

The neighbour said: ‘Wow, I can’t believe it.

‘I know who he is but to be honest he keeps himself to himself.’

Scotland Yard’s Counter-Terrorism Command, supported by colleagues from Counter-Terrorism Policing North East and South East, have arrested a total of 11 people as part of the ongoing investigation.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Counter-Terrorism Command, said: ‘A number of arrests were made and searches carried out across England as part of this investigation.

‘While led from London, the Counter-Terrorism Policing network has been crucial to disrupting this activity and we have worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service since the start of the investigation.’

District Judge Louisa Cieciora granted the three men bail on conditions including that they surrender any international travel documents.

The next hearing will be at the Old Bailey on May 24.

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