Wife of British businessman who died in China 'is gagged by authorities'

 

The wife of the British businessman Neil Heywood, who is thought to have been murdered in November in Chongqing in central China, has tried to flee the country, it was reported last night.

Wang Lulu, a Chinese citizen, was said to have visited the British embassy in Beijing to ask for a visa to leave for the UK. It is not known whether she has managed to arrange travel from the country, but she is believed to have been banned from speaking to the media about the case by the Chinese authorities.

Questions were also raised about the role of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the weeks following Mr Heywood's death, after it was reported that the businessman's cremation had been attended by a British diplomat and two Chinese policemen. Their presence suggests concern about his death, yet no official concerns were raised publicly by the UK authorities at the time. Originally Mr Heywood's death was reported by police in China to have been caused by "excess alcohol".

The case has become a huge political storm in China. Mr Bo has been suspended from his posts pending an investigation for "serious disciplinary violations".

In Britain, ministers are likely to come under scrutiny over the case during Foreign Office questions in Parliament next week.

Mr Heywood's Chinese wife has not commented publicly on the episode. "Police officers questioned her recently and warned her not to speak to foreign media," Reuters reported last night. She lives with her two children in a gated community of expensive villas on the outskirts of Beijing, where visitors to the house were reportedly turned away yesterday.