Chinese technology giant Huawei has been accused of trying to manipulate high-profile Britons to back the company's role in UK's 5G infrastructure.
The accusations have come in a privately-funded dossier commissioned by a US film producer Andrew Duncan and compiled with the help of ex-MI6 agent Christopher Steele.
The 86-page dossier, seen by the Daily Mail, claims that many influential people in Britain, including politicians and academics, were targeted by Huawei to act as "useful idiots" for Beijing.
The report, entitled "China's Elite Capture", accuses the Chinese firm of setting up fake radio stations in abroad and inviting prominent personalities on to panel discussions with an aim to encourage them to support Huawei.
As per the report, the firm also used social media to try to change the public opinion in the country.
The British elites targeted by Huawei included former Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston; Lord Clement-Jones, a Liberal Democrat peer; Sir Kenneth Olisa and the Lord Lieutenant of London, the report claims.
It alleges that Beijing's main objectives in the UK include establishing a Chinese presence in critical national infrastructure like telecommunications and nuclear power.
On Monday, the individuals identified in the dossier issued statements, describing the claims as "bizarre" and just like a "conspiracy theory".
A spokesman for the Huawei also dismissed the allegations, stating that they were "unfounded" and with "no basis in fact".
The spokesman said that the allegations were part of a "long-running US campaign" against the company.
The controversial report has appeared at the time when a debate is currently on-going within the government regarding what role Huawei can be allowed to play in Britain's 5G communication networks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly considering plans to phase out the use of Huawei's equipment in Britain's 5G infrastructure within months. Such a decision would be welcomed by the White House and a group of Tory MPs who have been demanding a complete ban on Huawei in the UK.
Christopher Steele, 56, who has contributed to the Huawei report, left MI6 in 2009 before setting up private firm Orbis Business Intelligence with Christopher Burrows, another former MI6 officer.
Mr Steele made global headlines in 2017 when he compiled a dossier on then US President-elect Donald Trump, alleging links between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and claiming the existence of a compromising sex tape in Russia's possession.
Mr Trump denied the allegations, saying the report was "false and fictitious".
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