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PM offers China death probe help

David Cameron has offered China "any necessary assistance" in its investigation into the suspected murder of British businessman, Neil Heywood.

The Prime Minister raised the case at talks in Downing Street with the Chinese Communist Party propaganda chief Li Changchun amid continued questions over how the 41-year-old came to meet his death in a hotel room.

No 10 said Mr Li, a senior member of the ruling Politburo, gave an assurance that the case was being examined by the judiciary "in full accordance with the rule of law" and had agreed the two governments would stay in close touch on the issue.

"The Prime Minister offered assistance with any aspect of the investigation," a spokeswoman said. "He (Mr Li) made no decision about whether to take up the offer but he thanked the Prime Minister."

Earlier, Foreign Secretary William Hague set out a detailed defence of the Foreign Office's handling of the case, amid complaints by MPs that it took them three months to raise it with the Chinese authorities.

It was reported last week that Gu Kailai, the wife of the former Communist Party boss in the city of Chongqing where Mr Heywood died, had been arrested in connection with the investigation.

Reports from China have claimed Mr Heywood was a friend of the family and that the two fell out after he demanded a higher fee for helping her to move money out of the country.

The old Harrovian was said to have been lured to a hotel in Chongqing last November where he was given a lethal dose of cyanide.

Ms Gu's husband, Bo Xilai - a former rising star in the party - has since been removed from his post and suspended from his seat on the Politburo in a move linked to a power struggle in the Communist Party elite.

In a written statement to MPs, Mr Hague said: "We now wish to see the conclusion of a full investigation that observes due process, is free from political interference, exposes the truth behind this tragic case, and ensures that justice is done. We will continue to engage with the Chinese authorities on the progress of the investigation and we stand ready to provide any assistance necessary."


From Belfast Telegraph