Bo Xilai's wife 'was in the room when British businessman Neil Heywood was poisoned'
BO Xilai's's wife Gu Kailai, accused of murdering the British businessman Neil Heywood, confessed to police that she was in the room when he was poisoned, according to an account given to American diplomats.
Wang Lijun, the former chief of police in Chongqing, told US officials that Gu Kailai had confessed that she was responsible for the killing with the words: "I did it."
Mr Wang gave his account of her alleged confession to diplomats at the US consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu in February.
He had fled Chongqing, apparently in fear for his life, after telling Gu's husband Bo Xilai, the city's Communist Party secretary, that his wife may have been involved in Mr Heywood's death.
He spent nearly 30 hours inside the consulate, during which he gave American diplomats his account of what happened to the Old Harrovian.
Wang gave a virtually identical report to the Chinese authorities after he left and these accounts have been given in official circles within and outside China.
According to Mr Wang, Mr Heywood, a fixer with decades of experience in China and a family friend of Mr Bo and his wife, was held down in a hotel room in Chongqing and forced to drink cyanide. Subsequently, Mrs Gu allegedly confessed to the crime. "Gu said 'I did it' three times to Wang," a diplomatic source with knowledge of Wang's account said. "It was a gruesome scene, Heywood spat the cyanide out and they had to give him more."
In recent weeks, a series of allegations about the alleged crime have begun circulating freely, an odd phenomenon in a country as closed and censored as China, prompting speculation that the Communist Party was trying to smear Mr Bo and his wife ahead of the announcement of the findings of an investigation.
Mr Heywood, Mrs Gu and her son, Bo Guagua, are said to have had a close relationship until a quarrel over an "economic" matter, according to the Chinese government. At the time of his death, Mr Heywood was thought to be raising money for an £80 million shopping centre dedicated to British luxury goods.
Mr Heywood is said by some friends to have expressed nervousness before his trip to Chongqing last November, others said he seemed perfectly cheerful.
His relationship with the Bo family stretched back for over a decade.
One expatriate businessman living in China, who did not wish to be named, said that Mr Heywood had started working for the Bo family in 2001 after accepting an arrangement to drum up investment for Liaoning province, where Mr Bo was working at the time.
The expatriate believed that the arrangement between Mr Heywood and the family was modelled on a similar deal put to him. "I was offered the job that got Neil Heywood murdered in Chongqing by Bo Xilai's wife," the expatriate told The Daily Telegraph. "The deal was five-star hotel suite, Mercedes and driver, world air travel and 'small amount of cash for living' plus two per cent of any investments successfully concluded."
The role was to have been as a middleman for investments in Liaoning province, which Mr Bo was then running as governor. The expatriate said he was assured that the holder would be protected by the Communist Party.
The expatriate, who has lived in China since the late 1990s, said he was introduced to the deal by Geoffrey Weymouth, a now-retired Australian consultant.
But he said he rejected the offer by email, explaining to intermediaries that he found it "structurally flawed".
However, Mr Weymouth said he had "no knowledge" of such a sequence of events.
"I do not know Bo Xilai or any members of his family. I did not know Neil Heywood," he said.
"You are going into areas best left alone. I know nothing about what you are talking about. I know a lot of people. I do not know Bo Xilai."
Friends of Mr Heywood said his sudden death has left his wife and young family short of cash. The 41-year-old businessman had kept relatively little money to meet the mortgage, school fees and other living expenses facing his Chinese wife, Wang Lulu.