01:59 GMT +315 October 2019
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    Former cabinet minister and Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell. (File)

    Ex-Conservative Ministers Allegedly Willing to Sell Services to Chinese Company

    © AFP 2019 / Dan Kitwood/POOL
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    Documentary entitled "Politicians For Hire: Cashing In On Brexit" has been labelled a "tawdry attempt at entrapment."

    The British news organization Channel 4 is set to go ahead with the airing of a documentary in which it set up a fake Chinese firm soliciting advisory services from at least three senior current and former Conservative politicians.

    It was initially reported on January 22 that airing of the program had been suspended due to repeated complaints from the three politicians principally concerned. Actors impersonating Chinese businesspeople were allegedly trying to convince the politicians that Britain's impending exit from the European Union represented a lucrative business opportunity for them.

    Among those believing they were being offered work by the non-existent Chinese firm are former Leader of the House of Commons and Secretary from 2012 to 2014 and Secretary of Health Andrew Lansley, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Chief Whip of the House of Commons Peter Lilley and Secretary for International Development Andrew Mitchell.

    Conservative politicians have been particularly vocal in their support for Britain leaving the EU as a means to cultivate closer economic relations with countries in which Britain has had historical imperial and other financial interests, including China.

    The politicians concerned have denied any wrongdoing and criticized the channel for allegedly attempting to ensare them in a compromising situation. Mr. Mitchell has claimed he was aware of the fraudulent nature of the set-up and immediately informed the British domestic security service MI5.

    Allegations of improper contact with Chinese business interests are nothing new in many Anglophone countries. A scandal ignited in 2017 in Australia over contact between Labor senator Sam Dastyari and a Chinese businessman who he allegedly advised on how to avoid surveillance by Australian security agencies.    

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    Documentary, whip, secretary, minister, Brexit, Channel 4, House of Commons, European Union, Andrew Mitchell, Peter Lilley, China, Europe, United Kingdom
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