UK & World News
Hague: Brit Killed In China Was Not A Spy
A British businessman thought to have been murdered in China was not a UK spy, the Foreign Secretary has said.
William Hague said in a letter that Neil Heywood "was not an employee of the British Government in any capacity".
Mr Hague issued the letter to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee after MPs questioned him about reports that Mr Heywood may have been an MI6 agent or passed information to the UK secret services.
Mr Heywood, 41, was "only an occasional contact" of the British embassy in Beijing where he attended "some meetings in connection with his business", he said.
But he did not rule out the possibility that Mr Heywood, a family friend of a senior Chinese politician currently under suspension, could have had some form of relationship or contact with the Secret Intelligence Service.
The old Harrovian was found dead in a hotel in the south western Chinese city of Chongqing last November, with reports suggesting he may have been poisoned.
Following a series of high-level requests, the Chinese authorities have now opened an investigation into the suspected murder of Mr Heywood.
"We acted to seek an investigation as soon as we judged that concerns about the circumstances of Mr Heywood's death justified it and we are pleased that the Chinese are now investigating," Mr Hague said.
It was reported earlier this month that Gu Kailai, the wife of the former Communist Party member Bo Xilai, had been arrested in connection with the investigation.
Reports from China have claimed Mr Heywood was a friend of the family and that the two fell out after he demanded a higher fee for helping her to move money out of the country.
Mr Bo, a former rising star in the party, has since been removed from his post and suspended from his seat on the Politburo in a move linked to a power struggle among the Communist Party elite.
The scandal began in February when Mr Bo's former right-hand man, Chongqing ex-police chief Wang Lijun, visited the US consulate in Chengdu and expressed suspicions about Mr Heywood's death, which was originally deemed accidental.
:: Read about the key players in the scandal