Family of Briton Neil Heywood, murdered by wife of Bo Xilai, seeks compensation


Reporters surround He Zhengsheng, a lawyer for Neil Heywood's family, as he leaves the Intermediate People's Court in Hefei, Anhui, China, on Aug. 20, 2012.


Peter Parks

The family of Neil Heywood, the British businessman murdered by the wife of former top Chinese politician Bo Xilai, is seeking compensation from his killer, reports said this week. 

Lawyers representing Heywood’s wife and two children have met with the legal team acting for Gu Kailai, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for poisoning Heywood with cyanide.

The British Embassy in Beijing has also raised the issue of compensation with China’s Foreign Ministry.

"We made the Chinese authorities aware of the family's concerns on the compensation issue on several occasions since the trial, most recently twice during July 2013," British Embassy spokesman John Gallagher told the Associated Press.

It is normal in China for convicted murderers to be ordered to pay compensation to the victim’s family, but in Heywood's case no such order has been issued. 

Heywood’s mother, Ann Heywood, issued a statement through the Wall Street Journal on Sunday expressing concern about the welfare of her two grandchildren, who are believed to be still living in Beijing with their Chinese mother, and called on authorities to offer “substantive” help to the family.

“While struggling to come to terms with my own grief, my overriding concern has been for the security and well-being of Neil's two children,” Ann wrote.

“Now aged just 8 and 12, they are particularly vulnerable to the hurt and horror of their father's murder and, since Neil was the family's sole breadwinner, to uncertainty and insecurity, there being no financial provision for their future.”

Bo Xilai, the former Communist Part chief in the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, is awaiting trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power. 

The November 2011 murder of Heywood triggered Bo’s spectacular fall from grace last year, just months before a once-in-a-decade leadership change.

He was sacked from his post and stripped of all political positions after his wife was named an official suspect in the murder. She later confessed to the killing. 

More from GlobalPost: How Beijing is artfully managing the Bo Xilai corruption case

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