A Times source tells Guido that they are surprised that the rest of the media is not naming Chris Cash as the person arrested on suspicion of spying for the Chinese. They believe there is a strong public interest case for naming the person who had access to parliamentarians, civil servants and think-tankers active on China issues.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader sanctioned by China, nailed it: “It’s a remarkably dangerous situation. This is a guy who allegedly spies on behalf of the Chinese government in the place where decisions are made and sensitive information is transferred. It is vitally important that he is named because many people who came into contact with this individual will be unaware that he has been arrested on suspicion of espionage. There is a clear public interest.”
Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Alicia Kearns’ ally told The Times defensively “Preposterous suggestions that Alicia should have breached all police and intelligence requests not to discuss this case could only come from individuals with zero understanding of legal investigations or intelligence work.” Spooks like to do things secretly.
Cash issued a statement via the law firm Birnberg Peirce; “I feel forced to respond to the media accusations that I am a ‘Chinese spy’. It is wrong that I should be obliged to make any form of public comment on the misreporting that has taken place. However, given what has been reported, it is vital that it is known that I am completely innocent. I have spent my career to date trying to educate others about the challenge and threats presented by the Chinese Communist Party. To do what has been claimed against me in extravagant news reporting would be against everything I stand for.” Even if he isn’t charged or is found innocent, there is still a public interest in open justice. People getting arrested in secret, unreported by the press, is a hallmark of police states.
Guido didn’t name Chris Cash last night because we assumed there must be a good reason papers were holding back. In retrospect we made a mistake.