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Murder victim 'had financial worries'


Neil Heywood was running short of funds in the weeks before he was murdered and had put pressure on Gu Kailai to give him more money, it was reported yesterday.

The 41-year-old businessman, who had lived and worked in China for years, apparently left his wife, Wang Lulu, and their two children, aged 11 and seven, in a financially uncertain situation. A former business associate had to pay for the family's plane tickets to attend his funeral in London, the Reuters news agency claimed, citing a family friend of Mr Heywood.

Chinese police suspect that Mr Heywood, an old Harrovian, was poisoned in Chongqing on the orders of Gu Kailai, wife of the city's ousted Communist Party boss, Bo Xilai. Mr Bo, who was bidding for a seat on the all-powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo in Beijing, has been sacked by the Communist Party, and the scandal has exposed deep divisions within China's ruling elite.

Mr Heywood's demands for a bigger cut from the transfer of funds offshore would explain how a business deal became a murder plot. It was also alleged yesterday that Chongqing police knew back in November that Mr Heywood had been murdered, but there was a cover-up because it was linked to Mr Bo and Ms Gu.

A former correspondent for Chongqing's People's Daily, Han Pingzao, told the BBC that when police found Mr Heywood dead in a hotel on 15 November, they knew he had been murdered but panicked when they made the link to Mr Bo.