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Senior Chinese forensic scientist resigns in protest over mishandled cases

Wang Xuemei claimed that the officially recorded circumstances of British businessman’s death were wrong.

A Chinese government-appointed forensic scientist who publicly criticised the credibility of the investigation into the death of Neil Heywood, a British businessman, has resigned in protest over what she claims have been a series of miscarriages of justice in the nation’s legal system.

Wang Xuemei, vice president of the state-administered Chinese Forensic Medicine Association, said she could no longer be involved with an organisation which she says serves up “ridiculous and false expert conclusions”, according to Australian newspaper The Age.

"I feel very disappointed with the status of China's legal medical expert team, and am increasingly desperate ... about the extremely ridiculous and false expert conclusions which turn up more and more," she said.

Her comments have brought her firm support from many within the country’s legal community.

Wang Zhenyu, a lawyer from Beijing, told the paper that Ms Wang’s official role gave her an insight into the extent to which forensic opinion had been distorted in court cases.

"Because she is from inside the system, and has stronger feeling of its malpractice, it proves just how intolerable the system had become for her," he said.

Mr Wang said while most cases were not interfered with, "no single case can avoid the potential influence of corruption".

"In China, the judiciary is not independent; instead, it is led by the [Communist] Party," he said.

Wang Xuemei came to national prominence last year after she publicly rejected the prosecutor's version of events that Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced former Communist Party politician Bo Xilai, had murdered Neil Heywood by pouring cyanide down his throat.

She said the corpse did not show the typical signs of such poisoning and that poor controls over Heywood’s subsequent blood tests meant that it could easily have been tampered with.

In her resignation she did not mention Heywood’s death, but she instead cited another recent case of a 20-year-old student who died on the Beijing Metro in 2010, as the case which convinced her to step down.

Forensic experts found the man had died from an electric shock. However, Ms Wang said there were clear signs that a blow had been struck across his jaw and that the expert conclusion that was given was “ridiculous and irresponsible”.

There are also reports that ten minutes of relevant surveillance footage had been erased.