Chinese spies attempted to hack emails of senior Tory MP with phishing scam

Alicia Kearns

Kearns has previously called China a "hostile"
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 24/08/2023

- 11:08

Alicia Kearns's official email account was targeted by China, parliamentary security authorities have said

Chinese spies tried to hack into the emails of a top Tory MP, before the phishing effort was thwarted by Microsoft.

Alicia Kearns, the Chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee, revealed that her official parliamentary email had been targeted, but Microsoft noticed the attempt and intervened.

The hacking attempt was traced back to China, according to Parliament’s security authorities.

Kearns said it was an attempt by the eastern power to “try and silence those of us who are outspoken”.

Alicia Kearns

Kearns said the attempt was one of many to silence those who have called out China in the past

Wikimedia Commons

The MP has been outspoken about China’s influence in the past, previously calling them a “hostile state”.

This comes after an investigation, published in The Times, discovered that a Chinese spy has being using LinkedIn to target British officials.

Using the world’s biggest professional networking site, the spy tried to bribe civil servants and officials to hand over state secrets in exchange for money.

The spy, whose main alias is Robin Zhang, created numerous fake identities to try and target anyone with access to classified information.

Zhang is thought to be one of the most prolific agents working in the UK in years, according to Western security officials.

The Government officials were lured with offers of thousands of pounds in money, business deals and trips to conferences.

Some who fell for it even ended up sending him CVs.

Kearns, who has also fallen victim to Chinese spies’ attempts to infiltrate her data, said those who fell for the bribes need to take “personal responsibility”.

She told Times Radio: “It is your job to make sure that you are not selling secrets, you are not giving away information, you're not being flattered into giving speeches.

LinkedIn website

A Time investigation discovered that a Chinese spy has being using LinkedIn to target British officials.


“And people should know if you are a official in the UK and you have access to secret information and we find out that you have chosen to sell it ... you will face the full force of the law."

Speaking with GB News in April, she spoke about the measure MPs take to ensure their security.

“There are MPs whose children are taken to school by the police every morning,” she said.

“There are colleagues who are told that they need police protection at all times in their own constituencies, who have stalkers, who have people outside their offices in balaclavas.”

Sir David Omand, a former GCHQ director, wants a research body established to flag hostile people to academics.

“Part of what is needed to defend ourselves is to make it easy for anyone with suspicions about an approach that they have had to report it in confidence and receive reassurance or, where there are reasons for doubt, advice on the dangers,” he said to The Times.

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