Two men charged with spying for China granted bail

Two men have been granted conditional bail after being charged with spying for China.

Former parliamentary researcher Christopher Cash and co-defendant Christopher Berry were charged under the Official Secrets Act after a counterterrorism investigation.

The men appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday but were not required to enter any pleas to the charge.

It is alleged that between January 2022 and February 2023, Cash obtained, recorded and published information "for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state" and which could be "directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy".

Berry is accused of the same offence between December 2021 and February 2023.

Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring granted both men conditional bail, which in Cash's case included not contacting MPs or any other staff of parliamentarians and not entering the parliamentary estate.

Cash was told he was permitted to contact his local MP on constituency matters.

He and Berry were also told not to travel outside the UK and not to contact each other. They were also ordered to sign on at a police station.

China has dismissed the charges as "self-staged political farce".

Cash previously worked as a parliamentary researcher and was closely linked to senior Tories including Tom Tugendhat, now security minister, and Alicia Kearns, who serves as chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

He was director of the China Research Group, which was initially chaired by Mr Tugendhat and then Ms Kearns.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle previously told MPs two people had been charged on a matter "relating to national security", one of whom was a parliamentary pass holder.

Both defendants will appear at the Old Bailey for a preliminary hearing on 10 May.