Sir Malcolm Rifkind warns of security risk over Chinese data sale

Former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has said that ministers must take care to ensure there are no security risks involved before a possible sale of data centres to Chinese investors goes ahead.

A £5 billion deal could see China take control of one of the world's biggest computer hosting networks which is based in the UK, according to the Sunday Times.

The newspaper reported that David and Simon Reuben, who are top of The Sunday Times rich list, are in talks to sell Global Switch, which owns and builds data centres globally.

According to the report, Chinese Daily Tech is leading a consortium attempting to buy the company.

Sir Malcolm, a former head of Parliament's intelligence and security commitee, told The Sunday Times: "The Government needs to be satisfied there are no risks involved.

"I would assume they will be taking advice as we speak from the intelligence agencies, from GCHQ in particular, and from others with the expertise to know the risk factor.

"If there is a significant national security dimension then anyone selling a British company would normally listen very carefully to the advice they receive from the British Government."

Former first sea lord Admiral and Labour peer Lord West of Spithead said: "I have a nervousness about the Chinese getting more and more involved in large chunks of our digital infrastructure."

Global Switch said its parent company, Aldersgate Investments Limited, is in talks with "a consortium of high quality private sector Asian investors" over a deal, said there would be "no change to the management or strategic direction of Global Switch".

A spokeswoman said: "Aldersgate Investments Limited and the consortium will exercise joint control of Global Switch.

"From a customer perspective, Global Switch will continue to provide highly resilient and secure data centre space which complies with the guidance issued by the UK Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure as part of the UK Government's national security strategy."