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Neil Heywood Death: British Businessman Was 'Held Down And Forced To Drink Poison'

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The British businessman whose death in China has sparked an international crisis was held down while poison was poured into his mouth, sensational accounts of the crime have alleged.

Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri Online quoted an unnamed state official who said Neil Heywood was pinned to the ground by force as he was murdered.

Heywood, 41, was found dead in a secluded hotel near Congqing in November.

He was a friend of the family of Bo Xilai, a former rising star in Chinese politics who served as local party chief but was suspended from the Politburo in April amid allegations of "serious discipline violations".

Chinese authorities initially said it was down to alcohol overconsumption, but after a police chief from the region attempted to defect to America the murky truth of the killing began to emerge.

The UK subsequently asked China to investigate, which it has now promised to do.

According to the Daily Yomiuri, a senior party official held a briefing on 10 April in which he revealed the method of death.

The official alleged that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, and a servant named Zhang Xiojun, were behind the killing.

"They tried to poison Heywood with a drink, but he spat it out," the official said. "The two people then forcibly held Heywood down, and poured the poison into his mouth."

Another official said: "The item Heywood spat out was retrieved and stored by the deputy chief of the Chongqing Public Security Bureau, and that has become a decisive piece of evidence."

British foreign secretary Willia Hague said this week that Foreign Office staff were aware on 18 January of rumours that there may have been suspicious circumstances.

But it was not until after a former Chongqing vice-mayor and chief of police Wang Lijun raised the concerns with the US consulate on 6 February that officials informed Hague.

Unconfirmed media reports suggest that police suspect Heywood may have been poisoned after threatening to expose a plan by Bo's wife Gu Kailai to move money abroad.

On Thursday MPs from the Foreign Affairs Select Committee wrote to Hague asking him to clarify if Heywood worked as a spy for the British government.

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