News | World News | Engineer arrested over 'Chinese plot to steal secrets of F-35B jet'

Engineer arrested over 'Chinese plot to steal secrets of F-35B jet'

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  • Ex-Chief Combustion Technologist Bryn Jones was held after MI5 heard of 'plot'
  • Counter-terror police swooped in on 73-year-old's Derbyshire home yesterday
  • He was reportedly queried and held on suspicion of Official Secrets Act breach
  • Engine expert was released today and declined to comment at his home 

By Fiona Parker For The Daily Mail

Published: 20:17 EDT, 13 June 2018 | Updated: 08:21 EDT, 14 June 2018

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A former Rolls-Royce engineer has been arrested in connection with a suspected Chinese plot to steal the secrets of the new £100million RAF stealth fighter jet, it was claimed last night.

Ex-Chief Combustion Technologist Bryn Jones was held after MI5 was informed classified defence information may have been passed to Beijing.

Counter-terror police swooped in on the 73-year-old's Derbyshire home in an 'ultra-discreet' operation on Tuesday.

He was questioned by Scotland Yard detectives at a nearby police station and has since been released and returned home, where he declined to comment on the case today. 

Former Rolls-Royce employee Bryn Jones was arrested amid fears that classified information about Britain's new multimillion-pound F-35 stealth fighter jets may have been passed to China
Former Rolls-Royce employee Bryn Jones was arrested amid fears that classified information about Britain's new multimillion-pound F-35 stealth fighter jets may have been passed to China
Former Rolls-Royce employee Bryn Jones was arrested amid fears that classified information about Britain's new multimillion-pound F-35 stealth fighter jets may have been passed to China
Former Rolls-Royce employee Bryn Jones was arrested amid fears that classified information about Britain's new multimillion-pound F-35 stealth fighter jets may have been passed to China

Former Rolls-Royce employee Bryn Jones was arrested amid fears that classified information about Britain's new multimillion-pound F-35 stealth fighter jets may have been passed to China

It is understood the Met probe centres on fears over Rolls-Royce's top-secret work on the state-of-the-art F-35B (pictured)
It is understood the Met probe centres on fears over Rolls-Royce's top-secret work on the state-of-the-art F-35B (pictured)

It is understood the Met probe centres on fears over Rolls-Royce's top-secret work on the state-of-the-art F-35B (pictured)

Scotland Yard detectives continued to scour the property earlier today.

Neighbour John O'Melia said: 'There was a marked police van and some specialist plain-clothed officers at the address [on Tuesday].

Mr O'Melia said of Jones: 'He was a nice chap. He mainly spoke of Japanese customers rather than Chinese - but that must have been 10 years ago.' 

Mr Jones was questioned and held on suspicion of breaching the Official Secrets Act, according to The Sun. Crimes relating to national security can carry a maximum sentence of 14 years.

Mr Jones, a married father-of-five, describes himself as a 'visiting professor' in 'gas turbine combustion' at the Aeronautical University of Xian, central China.

Ex-Chief Combustion Technologist Mr  Jones  was held after MI5 was informed classified defence information may have been passed to Beijing
Ex-Chief Combustion Technologist Mr  Jones  was held after MI5 was informed classified defence information may have been passed to Beijing

Ex-Chief Combustion Technologist Mr  Jones  was held after MI5 was informed classified defence information may have been passed to Beijing

It is understood the police investigation centres on fears over Rolls-Royce's top-secret work on the state-of-the-art F-35B.

Offices at a West Midlands firm linked to Mr Jones were also searched by forensics and police remained their today.

It is understood that Jones denies any wrongdoing.

The F-35B only arrived in the UK last week and Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier described it as 'the most advanced and dynamic fight jet' in British history.

With a top speed of 1.6 Mach (1,200mph) and a 300-mile range, the aircraft can deflect enemy radar almost unnoticed.

Built in the US by defence giants Lockheed Martin, its weapons include air-to-air missiles and laser-guided bombs.

The UK government has already committed to spend £9.1billion on 48 of the aircraft by 2025.

But now there are grave concerns the aircraft's secrets are already in the hands of foreign powers.

Mr Jones tells on his LinkedIn page how he worked for Rolls Royce before taking up a visiting position at a Chinese university
Mr Jones tells on his LinkedIn page how he worked for Rolls Royce before taking up a visiting position at a Chinese university

Mr Jones tells on his LinkedIn page how he worked for Rolls Royce before taking up a visiting position at a Chinese university

A source told The Sun: 'China and Russia are determined to steal state secrets by any means. Any arrest of this type is highly significant.' 

Mr Jones, who has been married to his wife Dorothy for 49 years, studied mechanical engineering at Manchester University after leaving grammar school in the Sixties.

He took on a job in Rolls-Royce's combustion engineering section after graduating and worked there for 28 years.

Mr Jones declined to comment when approached this morning
Mr Jones declined to comment when approached this morning

Mr Jones declined to comment when approached this morning

In 1996 he was named Chief of Combustion Technology Acquisition, where his role involved 'assessing military and civil product needs'.

Four years later he landed the top post of chief combustion technologist.

Mr Jones is thought to have left Rolls-Royce in 2003 and launched a consultancy firm.

But he is believed to have retained links with his former company.

In 2013, Mr Jones won a prize for a 'lifelong contribution' to his field from the Institute of Physics.

Mr Jones would have been required to sign the Official Secrets Act due to the sensitivity of his work with Rolls-Royce.

Plain-clothed police officers were still present at the Jones' home yesterday.

Neighbours of the couple yesterday described them as 'private'.

The Sun understands electronic equipment including computers and USB drives were among the items seized.

F-35 FACT SHEET 

Role: Stealth multirole fighter

First flight: December 15, 2006

Unit cost (not including engine):

F-35A - $98million

F-35B - $104million

F-35C - $116million

Number built: 115 (as of November 2014)

Length: 15.67m

Wingspan: 10.7m

Height: 4.33m

Max speed (F-35A): 1,930kph 

A Met Police spokesman said: 'At approximately 14.20hrs on Tuesday, 12 June 2018, officers from the Metropolitan Police Service arrested a man in Derbyshire as part of an investigation under the Official Secrets Act.

'The man, who is in his 70s and worked within private industry, was taken to a police station in Derbyshire.

'He was released under investigation later that evening.

'Police officers executed a search warrant at an address in the West Midlands, which is now complete.

'A search at an address in Derbyshire is ongoing.' 

Last night a Home Office spokesperson said they would not comment on an ongoing investigation. 

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