Justice Secretary Angela Constance has told MSPs the Scottish Government is engaging with the National Crime Agency and the UK Government over possible threats from the Chinese regime.

The SNP minister was responding to a topical question in Holyrood following the arrest of a Westminster parliamentary researcher for allegedly spying for China.

The man, a Scot in his 20s, was arrested in March in Edinburgh under the Official Secrets Act.

He is said to have been in contact with some senior Tory MPs including Alicia Kearns, who chairs the Commons foreign affairs committee, and Tom Tugendhat, the security minister.

The man has insisted he is “completely innocent”.

READ MORE: Spy row: Scot arrested on suspicion of spying for China 

Replying to a question from Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, Ms Constance said she was restricted in what she could say and that it was a “long-standing convention of successive governments not to comment on national security matters.”

“As the First Minister made clear yesterday, any threat to our security and cybersecurity is one we take very seriously. And I can assure [Mr Cole-Hamilton] that we work very closely with UK Government to understand the nature of the current situation, and how we can work with them to ensure that our security continues to be protected.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton said any suggestion that our democratic institutions were “now open to infiltration by agents of the Chinese Communist Party should worry us all and be treated with the utmost severity.”

He then asked the minister about the use of CCTV made by a company linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

Police Scotland and at least 11 local authorities across Scotland are currently using Hikvision cameras, despite the firm being banned in several countries.

Ms Constance said the government was in the process of a “multi-year improvement programme” looking at replacing existing CCTV kit.

She said the government had also “commissioned research as part of the refresh of the public CCTV strategy.”

READ MORE: China spy row: Scot says he is 'completely innocent'

Meanwhile, Downing Street has defended ministers, including Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, using TikTok on personal phones despite the social media site's links to the Chinese Government. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said Mr Shapps and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan, who has also said she occasionally uses the app, are “making sure” they engage with it “in the correct way”.

The video-sharing app, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, has already been banned from UK and Scottish Government phones on security grounds.

Asked whether the ministers’ use of the app sends mixed messages, the No 10 official said: “I think they’ve both provided a bit more detail about how they’re doing it and making sure it’s done in the correct way… “I think there is clear guidance for young people and, indeed, for adults about how to approach these things.

“And I think it’s the Online Safety Bill which will further help keep the public safe online.”

Ms Donelan insisted that use of the app on non-work phones is a matter of “personal choice and responsibility”.

She told the PA news agency: “The Government advice is not that ministers can’t use TikTok.

“The Government advice is really clear. It is that you can’t do it on a Government device because obviously there will be sensitive information on that device, whereas that is not true of somebody’s personal phone and it is their personal choice.

“We all have personal choice and responsibility, and I think that is the right approach.”