Malcolm Moore, Beijing correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, speaks to friends of Neil Heywood, the British businessman with links to ousted Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai who was found dead in a hotel room and quickly cremated without an autopsy. Here’s what he found:
A friend who has known him since childhood described Heywood as “like a character in a Graham Greene novel – always immaculate, very noble, very erudite”.
“Privately, I always wondered if he was in MI6,” said the friend, who added that there was no evidence to suggest he had been a spy.
“He had his fingers in many pies, and often it is quite easy to make someone like that the scapegoat, to make them look suspicious, but he was not at all mysterious to the people who knew him.”
“It is very strange that it was not reported in any media. I can only think it is because everyone was too afraid of Bo Xilai to look into it,” said one Chongqing-based journalist who asked not to be named.
Heywood’s friend commented; “What is interesting is that the Chinese government did not want anything to do with the case at all at the time of his death. And the British embassy was not helpful at the time.
“Personally I think whether or not he died under suspicious circumstances, the question is why is this being raised now, rather than at the time of his death?
“He might have had knowledge that he should not have had. He often knew about deals long before anyone else did. But he may have just died of a heart attack. And whatever it was, he appears to be a small pawn in a bigger picture,” said his friend.
Read Malcolm Moore’s full report here.