If the allegations against Ruiyou Lin are to be taken seriously he is a man to be viewed with trepidation.

Accused of owning a business that was used as the base for a Chinese government “secret police station” it is claimed he has connections with powerful and possibly dangerous people.

But if Lin is operating some nefarious underground law enforcement operation from his quiet office overlooking Croydon High Street there are few visible signs.

Prompted by warnings from local MP Sarah Jones that “grave concerns” about the potential threat lying at Lin’s address, MyLondon and the Local Democracy Reporting Service paid it a visit and ended up being granted a world-exclusive interview with the man at the heart of a geopolitical firestorm.

What we encountered was a man trembling at times with the effort required to keep his emotions in check.

Between nervously serving MyLondon cups of green tea, Lin fiercely protested his innocence.

He claims in the months which followed a bombshell article by The Times , which alleged his address appears on a list of “overseas service stations for police and overseas Chinese affairs”, his life has been hell.

“Last night, when I go down the street and tried to buy some food for myself a guy comes up to me and says ‘Hey, are you the secret police?’ And that is not the first time,” he told MyLondon.

“A lot of people ring the doorbell harassing us, maybe 20 or 30 people a day. People are always looking at me.”

Lin alleged that shortly after the story was published a journalist approached his son on the way to school and told him “do you know your dad is in the secret police?”

He claims to have reported the incident at Croydon police station, but they referred him to Action Fraud, a suggestion he accepts may have been the result of confusion caused by his sometimes-limited English skills.

Visibly distressed by the alleged incident, the delivery app owner claimed it had made him fear for his family’s safety.

“When lots of people are saying you are a secret police, even if it’s not true it makes you stressed.

"You cannot feel comfortable, I’m scared of the school calling me and always worry about my kids,” he added.

“Since things come out on the newspapers I cannot sleep and I’m not eating properly. Normally I sleep at about twelve o’clock.

"But now like I’m sleeping at about 4am or 5am sometimes even 12 in the afternoon.

"I have got a prescription from the GP for pills, when I saw them they were surprised and said ‘How can you lose that much weight?'”

Lin’s white suit shirt hangs noticeably looser than can be seen in what are now well-circulated pictures of him smiling next to Boris Johnson and Theresa May.

The photos and his alleged connections to Conservative Party groups have prompted accusations the government has been going slow on its investigation – a claim emboldened by the FBI last month arresting two men in New York linked to an address subject to similar ‘police station’ allegations.

Addressing the allegations

The most compelling allegation against Lin is that his business address was listed as being ‘police station’.

Videos show Lin in front of a blue banner that appears to be nearly identical to one those arrested in New York were pictured beside.

Asked by MyLondon to explain this, Lin claims the ‘police’ connection has been misunderstood.

“The UK and China is different. In China, they don’t have a department like the DVLA.

"They put everything in the police department, but actually it’s not a police job. It’s called a ‘Chinese police driving licence’, but the thing is it’s not [connected to] a police station,” he claims.

“Actually what those pictures was about is the Chinese driving licence renewal.

"If you are from China and you live in UK and you don’t renew your driving licence, when you come back, you must re-test the driving licence.

“So because of the COVID situation and the people from my city cannot go back to China.

"So for me as a UK Fujianese Association chairman, what I wanted to do is help you then to renew a driver’s licence. When people asked me ‘if I need to help where do I need to go?’ I said ‘yeah, just come to my office’ and after that my address is listed.”

Asked to explain why two people who’d been pictured under the same banner in the US connected to a business with the same set of allegations would have been charged with running a police station he said: “Actually, this banner, it’s just a driving licence renew place. Nothing to do with police.”

A visit from the Met Police

The October 2022 Times article stated Lin was being investigated by both the UK government and Metropolitan Police.

When MyLondon asked the Met to comment it said this was not possible, but Lin confirmed there was an active case against him. His belief is the findings will vindicate his innocence.

“The police come to visit me in my office and my house,” he continued. “They were thinking I may be hiding something or whatever in the house. When they come into my house when they see it is a family house I have got kids there and I’m a proper family man.

“I’d love them to finish the case as soon as possible. I’m keeping chasing them [about it].

"I want to co-operate with the investigation and get everything cleared as soon as possible.”

MyLondon asked about what it was that police were looking into and Lin replied that he couldn’t discuss details while the investigation was ongoing.

He did reveal since the investigation began he had left the UK on multiple occasions.

“If I’m involved in any of police jobs, harassing anyone or doing anything for the police the first thing is I will not stay here today,” he added.

“But I have gone out of the country many times during the investigation. If I [was part of the secret police] I wouldn’t come back to England.”

Lin also suggested he lacked the relevant credentials to participate in any type of police work and that his business was clearly not a place where an underground police station could operate.

He said: “To be in the police you need to have a minimum level of education, like university, to be in the police. I didn’t even go to school – so how could I qualify? I think the people who wrote this wanted to make a good story.

“Where you come in my office we have people from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Pakistan, India and local Croydon people. A lot people from all different places, it’s a multicultural company.

"It’s not a police station, if it was a police station we’d be hiring all Chinese people to work here.

“The UK is not a third-world country, they have a very good legal system and has very good law. I haven’t done anything, it’s all just rumours. If I had done I wouldn’t speak with you here today.”

Alleged links to Communist Party

Another focus in the reports about Lin has been alleged connections to the Chinese Communist Party.

It is claimed he attended Chinese Communist Party (CCP) political conferences in China and he held roles in several organisations in Britain which had links to the party department responsible for a strategy that uses Chinese nationals living abroad to push its interests.

Lin denied this was the case and said his interactions had been related to generating funds for his delivery app business. “I don’t engage with the party,” he said.

“The people in the party I meet is as a businessman. I’m not a member of them. I’m speaking to them to gain more business to get my dream done.

“It’s not like the newspaper says, for me, my company we need a lot of investors, like it’s not like a million pounds it’s about billion pounds. We need to get rich people, good businessmen, successful businessmen coming to invest in my company. I am fighting very hard to find out who is interested in my business.”

Asked about pictures with political figures in both the UK and China Lin replied: “I like to take pictures with famous people. Some people would like to take pictures with movie stars for me it’s people in politics.”

‘Britain and China: Mother and Father’

Lin is keen to stress the close bond he feels towards the UK and how grateful he is to the country he’s called his home for over two decades.

He says he encountered nothing but kindness since arriving from China with limited education and no wealth.

“I came to the UK in 2000 when I was about 18 I started working as a handyman in restaurants, helping in the kitchen. I hoped to get a better life in the UK,” he explained.

“China and the UK, the two countries for me it’s like one is my mother and one is my father. I come from China and I love my country, but I’m living in the UK for more than half of my life.

"It’s like I’m British. I love the country so much too, it’s given me too much. In China, I was a small kid, when I came here this is the place I grew up.

“After working very hard for many years I opened a Chinese takeaway, The Hot Wok. I found we weren’t making money because all the other delivery platforms were taking commissions. I wanted to see what we could do to help that and in the end, we set up the All Eat App to stop restaurants paying commission.”

The ambitions for his app have been checked by the allegations, Lin claims. He said there are fewer customers and an investor pulled out of a deal. However, thoughout the interview he remained unwilling to point the finger at who might behind the accusations.

“You know more than me what is behind all of this,” he replied cryptically when MyLondon asked. “I want to know: Why are the people doing this to me? If I tell you it is this person or that person making it up that will create [more] hate. I just want to know a peaceful life with my kids. I don’t want to make more hate. I don’t want to make more harassment.

“I am a proper businessman and family man. I’m fighting very hard to make a good life and education for all my kids. All my kids are in the UK, they are not living abroad. If I am a ‘secret police’ or whatever, I would move my kid to China or other countries.”

As MyLondon starts to leave the office which has allegedly housed a police station Lin asks us for a photo.

We politely decline. “I just love taking pictures,” he tells us.