The family of Neil Heywood, the British businessman and alleged MI6 informant murdered by Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai, has not spoken publicly before. Now, as Bo’s trial nears, Heywood’s mother Ann has released a short statement.
It is now more than 1½ years since my only son Neil died suddenly in Chongqing, China, at the age of 41. Until now, I have refused all requests from the media to comment on Neil’s death, not wanting to cause unnecessary embarrassment to the Chinese authorities. However, circumstances now compel me to break my silence.
In the months following Neil’s death, it gradually became clear, from media reports and from official Chinese statements, that Neil did not die from natural causes but was murdered. It also became clear that prominent Chinese officials, including a member of the Communist Party’s politburo and a number of senior policemen, were connected with the murder and involved in a systematic coverup.
While struggling to come to terms with my own grief, my overriding concern has been for the security and well-being of Neil’s two children. Now aged just 8 and 12, they are particularly vulnerable to the hurt and horror of their father’s murder and, since Neil was the family’s sole breadwinner, to uncertainty and insecurity, there being no financial provision for their future.
Given the circumstances of Neil’s murder, I have been surprised and disappointed that, despite repeated discreet approaches to the Chinese authorities, there has been no substantive or practical response. I hope and trust that the leaders of this great nation, which Neil loved and respected, will now show decisiveness and compassion, so as to mitigate the consequences of a terrible crime and to enable my family finally to achieve some kind of closure to our ongoing nightmare.