British businessman murdered in China was Secret Service spy

Published:  7 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, China, England
According to the Wall Street Journal, the British businessman killed in China in November last year was acting as a spy for the British Secret Service.

The newspaper states that Neil Heywood had been contacting an M16 officer with information about Chinese politician Bo Xilai for at least 12 months prior to his death. A report by the BBC states that the UK Foreign Office had refused to comment on intelligence matters.

The case is under investigation in China and is said to be at the heart of a huge political scandal just as the Chinese leadership undergoes its ten-yearly reshuffle. Last April, Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that Heywood was not in any capacity a government employee.

Heywood’s death was instrumental in the downfall of high-flying Communist Party chief and prospective Chinese leader Bo Xilai, whose wife Gu Kailai was jailed for the murder in August along with former police chief Wang Lihun. Bo was expelled from the Chinese parliament in September and is now able to be prosecuted for bribe-taking, abuse of power and violating party discipline.

Ever since the news of Heywood’s death broke, rumours about his connection with M16 have been circulating in the media, with the latest article citing British officials and anonymous friends of the murdered man. According to the newspaper, although he was not officially employed as a spy, he had been knowingly passing on information.

Relatives of the murdered man have refused to comment on the article, which states that, since 2009, he had been working with an M16 officer, passing him information on Bo’s private affairs during regular meetings. Whitehall sources, however, said an informal arrangement of this type is usual in a small expat community, although some reports describe Heywood as a financial middleman who was killed when a deal with Bo’s wife went sour.
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