Details of Portsmouth MP Penny Mordaunt's late mother gathered by Chinese firm accused of mining data for spies in Beijing

A SNOOPING Chinese tech giant with reported links to Beijing’s military and intelligence services has been gathering information on the late mother of former defence secretary Penny Mordaunt.

By Tom Cotterill
Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 3:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 4:29 pm

The Portsmouth North MP’s mother, Jennifer, has featured on a database of some 40,000 UK citizens compiled by technology company Zhenua Data - which included senior British politicians, military officers and their families and religious leaders.

The firm, which is based in Shenzhen, China, has also compiled lists of leading academic figures, including some from the University of Portsmouth.

US academic Christopher Balding is understood to have published the data online, after being leaked the information. He had previously been based in Shenzhen but returned to the US amid security concerns.

Penny Mordaunt MP

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The database is thought to be used by Chinese intelligence agencies for monitoring British civilians as part of a worldwide espionage campaign.

The names, dates of birth, educational and professional histories, criminal records and social media accounts of politicians, Royals, business people, academics, military officers, and civilians convicted of drug and terror offences are being harvested by Zhenhua for the reported benefit of the Chinese Communist Party.

But Ms Mordaunt’s mother, who was a former special needs assistant at several schools in Purbrook, died of breast cancer in 1988.

The news of her late mother’s inclusion in the Chinese database is understood to have left the Tory MP baffled.

One insider said: ‘It’s astonishing. I’ve got no idea why Penny’s mother would appear on this list. It beggars belief.’

Speaking to The News, Ms Mordaunt – who is part of Boris Johnson’s cabinet – added: ‘I’m not surprised at all by this.’

Among the list of other people profiled by the company included Boris Johnson, the Queen, Prince Charles and former First Sea Lord Sir George Zambellas.

Information about UK warships, including tweets that name the location of the ships when docked in ports, is being kept by Zhenhua.

Academics from the University of Portsmouth are also understood to be listed, alongside others from universities in Cambridge, Oxford and Durham.

A spokesman for Zhenhua refused to comment on allegations it was engaged in China's surveillance programme, telling The Telegraph: 'These questions touch upon our trade secrets. It's not convenient to disclose.'

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