Experts from the Chinese laboratory at the centre of global suspicion over the coronavirus pandemic have ‘defected’ and are in the hands of Western intelligence, the architect of Donald Trump’s presidential victory claimed last night.

Steve Bannon, who was Trump’s White House chief strategist and retains close links to the administration, told The Mail on Sunday that spies were building a case against Beijing on the basis that the global pandemic had been caused by a leak from the Institute of Virology in Wuhan and that the subsequent cover-up had amounted to ‘pre-meditated murder’…

Mr Bannon, who has been tipped by the US media for a return to Trump’s inner circle to shore up his faltering campaign for re-election, said: ‘I know that certain defectors are working with the FBI here to try to knit together what happened’ in the Wuhan institute, which he said was ‘horribly run and terribly mismanaged’.

He claimed: ‘They are not talking to the media yet, but there are people out of the Wuhan lab and other labs that have come to the West and are turning over evidence of the culpability of the Chinese Communist Party. I think people are going to be shocked’.