Two men have been charged with spying for China after an investigation by counter-terrorism police.

Christopher Berry, 32, from Witney in Oxfordshire, and Christopher Cash, 29, from Whitechapel in east London, are both accused of an offence under the Official Secrets Act, the Metropolitan Police said.

It is alleged that between December 2021 and February 2023 Berry “for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State, obtained, collected, recorded, published or communicated to any other person articles, notes, documents or information which were calculated to be, might be, or were intended to be, directly or indirectly, useful to an enemy”.

Cash is accused of the same offence between January 2022 and February 2023.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This has been an extremely complex investigation into what are very serious allegations.

“We’ve worked closely with the Crown Prosecution Service as our investigation has progressed and this has led to the two men being charged today.

“We’re aware there has been a degree of public and media interest in this case, but we would ask others to refrain from any further comment or speculation, so that the criminal justice process can now run its course.”

The two men have been bailed to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Nick Price, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, said: “The Crown Prosecution Service Counter Terrorism Division has today authorised the Metropolitan Police to charge two men with espionage offences.

“Christopher Berry, 32, and Christopher Cash, 29, will be charged with providing prejudicial information to a foreign state, China, and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday, April 26.

“Criminal proceedings against the defendants are active. No-one should report, comment or share information online which could in any way prejudice their right to a fair trial.”

House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the chamber: "This morning two people were charged with offences under the Official Secrets Act of 1911. One of those individuals was a Parliamentary pass holder at the time of the alleged offences.

“This matter is now subjudice. Under the terms of the House’s resolution on matters of subjudice members should not refer to it in the chamber.

“I know that honourable and right honourable members will understand how important it is that we do not say anything in this place that might prejudice a criminal trial relating to a matter of national security.”

China dismissed the charges as a “political farce”.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London said it was “completely fabricated and nothing but malicious slander” to suggest Beijing was suspected of “stealing British intelligence”.

“We firmly oppose it and urge the UK side to stop anti-China political manipulation and stop putting on such self-staged political farce,” the spokesman said.