The Foreign Secretary has denied that Neil Heywood, the British businessman thought to have been murdered in China, was a British secret agent.
William Hague has written to a Commons committee to say Mr Heywood "was not an employee of the British government in any capacity".
He added that the businessman, who died in November, was only an occasional contact of the British Embassy in Beijing.
Mr Heywood lived in China for a decade and was for several years close to Bo Xilai, an influential Chinese politician. Bo was sacked from the Chinese Politburo earlier this month and his wife, Gu Kailai, is the leading suspect in the British businessman's death.
Mr Hague's letter to Richard Ottaway MP, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, added: "We are pleased that the Chinese are now investigating."