Cameron demands full probe into Briton’s death in China
LONDON BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron met a top Chinese Communist Party official on Tuesday and urged a full and proper investigation into the death of an English businessman in China last year.
The case of Neil Heywood, who was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing in November, took a dramatic turn last week when the wife of the city’s former party leader Bo Xilai was named as a suspect in his alleged murder.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said Cameron’s talks with visiting Politburo member Li Changchun would focus on deepening bilateral relations with China and working together on “global challenges” such Iran and Syria.
“The prime minister will also take the opportunity to raise the case of Neil Heywood, welcoming the launch of the Chinese investigation and emphasising that we’re keen to address concerns about the suspicious circumstances of his tragic death,” the spokeswoman told reporters.
“We want to see the conclusion of an investigation that involves due process.” Li is officially number five in China’s ruling Communist Party hierarchy and is its propaganda and media czar.
Finance minister George Osborne welcomed him to Downing Street.
Heywood, 41, had reportedly forged close links with Bo, who was removed from the Politburo one week ago at the same time as his wife Gu Kailai was named as a suspect in the case. A Hong Kong-based website, quoting party sources, alleges that an official in Chongqing admitted to police that he had provided one of Bo’s men with potassium cyanide to get rid of Heywood.
Britain’s Foreign Office has defended itself over alleged hold-ups in intervening over Heywood’s death, which meant that his body was cremated shortly after his death without an autopsy being carried out.
Foreign Secretary William Hague on Tuesday said in a written statement to parliament that the Chinese investigation was launched after repeated requests by Britain.
He said the Foreign Office had initially been told that Heywood died of alcohol consumption but that in January it became aware of rumours in the expatriate community that his death was suspicious.
Hague said allegations about Heywood’s death were then made by former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun to US consular officials on February 6 when he fled to the consulate in an apparent panic and reportedly demanded asylum.
He said Britain wanted assurances from China that the investigation was “free from political interference, exposes the truth behind this tragic case, and ensures that justice is done”.