Murdered British businessman ‘was MI6 operative’

Neil Heywood

An investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that Neil Heywood, the British businessman who was murdered in China last November, was an active informant for British intelligence at the time of his death. The news appears to confirm intelNews’ assessment of April 2012 that Heywood was in fact connected with British intelligence.

A highly successful financial consultant and fluent Chinese speaker who had lived in China for over a decade, Heywood was found dead on November 14, 2011, in his room at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel in Chongqing. His death led to the dramatic downfall of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai, a husband-and-wife team of political celebrities who were found guilty in a Chinese court of killing the British businessman.Immediately after Heywood’s death, there was widespread speculation that he may have been a spy for MI6, Britain’s external intelligence service.

On April 27, 2012, I argued that I was not aware of anyone “with serious knowledge of intelligence issues who was not completely certain, or did not deeply suspect, that Heywood had indeed collaborated with British intelligence at some stage during the past decade”. I wrote this in the face of an official denial by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who had said earlier in the week that “Heywood was not an employee of the British government in any capacity”.

Now an extensive investigation by The Wall Street Journal has concluded that the dead British businessman had been an MI6 operative “for more than a year” prior to his death. The paper said it concluded that based on several interviews with unnamed “current and former British officials” as well as with close friends of the murdered man. One source told The Journal that Heywood had been willingly and consciously recruited by an MI6 officer, who met with him on a regular basis in China.

Heywood allegedly provided the MI6 officer with inside information on Xilai and other senior Chinese government officials. The article quotes an unnamed British official as saying that Heywood’s MI6 handler once described him as “useful” to a former colleague.

According to the paper, Heywood’s MI6 work does not technically contradict the British Foreign secretary’s statement that the late businessman had not been “an employee of the British government”. This is because, according to sources close to Heywood, he was not paid for his services, nor was he ever tasked with specific intelligence operations. Rather he acted as an all-purpose informant, providing general background information on a voluntary basis. The Journal contacted the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which said simply that no British officials had been in contact with Haywood in the 48 hours prior to his death.

November 7, 2012

By Joseph Fitsanakis

Article from Intel News

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