x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Briton killed by Bo Xilai's wife was M16 informant: report

A British businessman murdered by the wife of a top Chinese politician reportedly had informed on the couple for more than a year to his country's spy agency.

BEIJING // A British businessman murdered by the wife of a top Chinese politician had informed on the couple for more than a year to his country's spy agency, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

Neil Heywood shared details based on his unusually close access to Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai, the paper reported, citing his friends and current and former British officials.

The revelation that Heywood was murdered brought down Mr Bo and revealed rifts among top leaders.

"He had been knowingly providing information about the Bo family to Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, for more than a year," the report said.

It said Heywood became close to the family in the 1990s when Mr Bo was mayor of Dalian. He was found dead in November last year in Chongqing, the city Mr Bo ran at the time.

Heywood drove a silver Jaguar with the licence plate "007", the Journal reported.

After meeting someone in 2009 who later acknowledged being an MI6 officer, the businessman "met that person regularly in China" and provided "information on Mr Bo's private affairs", the paper reported.

Gu was given a suspended death sentence in August for poisoning Heywood. Mr Bo was removed from the ruling Communist Party's top 25-member Politburo and now awaits trial for abuse of power and other charges.

Heywood's links with the family frayed in the last two years of his life. He was apparently trying to obtain money which he thought they owed him before he left China, the newspaper reported, citing his close friends.

Neither Chinese nor British officials pointed to Heywood's spy links as a reason for his murder, it said.