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It has been reported that Chinese intelligence personnel worked their way into the company of those who run FaithInvest. The FaithInvest charity was co-founded by the late Prince Philip and Martin Palmer in 1995. The group helps faiths develop environmental and conservation projects based on their own beliefs and practices.

The Sun newspaper reported that Chinese intelligence personnel attended a meeting of FaithInvest with the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor in 2017.

The report states the intelligence officers were working through the China Taoist Association.

However, it has been claimed they were in fact controlled by Beijing’s United Front Work Department (UFWD).

The UFWD was accused by MI5 this month of seeking to “covertly interfere” with the UK’s politicians.

MI5 raised a security alert for the UK’s MPs.

The UFWD reportedly infiltrated FaithInvest so agents could meet with the Duke of Edinburgh in 2017.

It was reported the UFWD also met with Prince Philip through the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC).

The ARC is a separate charity also set up by Mr Palmer and Prince Philip.

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A source said: “The United Front Work Department is used to present a more acceptable face to a fairly unpleasant regime.

“But they are also involved in ruthless intelligence and foreign interference activities as well.”

The co-founder of both charities, Mr Palmer, told the Sun he had worked with groups from different faiths since the 1990s.

He added: “The China Taoist Association has played a major role in discussions on faiths and ecology, both in China and within Chinese communities around the world.

“That is why Prince Philip, who founded ARC, met the Taoists on a number of occasions.”

Yesterday it was revealed the wife of Tory peer Lord Bates shook hands with China’s President Xi Jinping during a conference of the Chinese Overseas Friendship Association (Cofa) in May 2019.

This meeting in Beijing was with a group linked to the UFWD.

Xuelin Li Bates, who has donated £206,000 to the Conservative Party since 2010, travelled to Beijing for the meeting.

The meeting is held twice a decade and is part of the United Front Work Department (UFWD).

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