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Neil Heywood Had Demanded Millions of Pounds

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Prior to his murder, Neil Heywood had demanded millions of pounds for acting as guardian to the son of one of China's rising political stars, according to a key witness.

A 12-month investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches into the mysterious death of Neil Heywood has found a source who claims that the wife of Bo Xilai, the prominent politician, was framed for his murder as part of a conspiracy by his enemies.

The investigation also discovered that Heywood may have been trading on his connection to the Winston Churchill's family in his business dealings in China.

Bo Xila, once seen as a candidate for vice-president, is now in disgrace and his wife, Gu Kailai, is in prison for the murder of Neil Heywood as the Communist party congress meets for a once-in-a-decade power transfer.

In the year since Heywood's death, almost every person connected to the case in China has been rounded up and imprisoned.

Those who are still free are too scared to talk. But Channel 4 Dispatches has made contact with a close friend on the family's inner circle. They have first-hand knowledge and exclusive new insights into the key players in the murder case. They agreed to talk only if we protected their identity.

Demands for millions of pounds

Our source claims Heywood was having financial difficulties and on two separate occasions asked the family of Bo Xilai for large sums of money.

Heywood emailed the family demanding large sums of money in the summer of 2008. He claimed it was compensation for errands he had done while acting as the guardian of Gu Kailai's son Guagua.

Our source claims that during the Beijing Olympics, Gu Kailai met Heywood at a tea house by Tiananmen Square."

"Neil suggested that he didn't really mean the sum he asked for, he was just seeing if the family could lend him a hand. In the end, they gave him no money but he was fine with that."

"He probably thought that there was no harm asking for the biggest sum he could think of, without expecting actually to get it."

In early 2011, our source claims Heywood emailed again, pleading that he could not meet his children's school fees and asking for tens of millions of pounds.

Our sources says: "This second request was quite detailed, regarding helping with a particular ball GuaGua organised at oxford and serving as an intermediary between Guagua's parents and Harrow during his A-levels"

"When Gu Kailai heard about Heywood's email, she laughed it off and suggested he had really gone mad this time."

Our source claims the family again refused to give him any money - and Heywood withdrew his demands - and the matter appeared to have been settled amicably.

Churchill connection

Rebuffed, Heywood tried to exploit other Chinese contacts to revive his failing business.

Channel 4 Dispatches has discovered that Heywood may have been trading on his connection to the Winston Churchill's family in his business dealings in China.

A Chinese artist with business dealings with Neil Heywood explained: "Heywood was a very polite person. He appreciated Chinese culture, but at the same time he also treated it as a business".

"He and his wife said that they were setting up an art company in the UK, aiming at introducing Chinese art to the UK's high society. From what I understand is that they have some connection with Churchill's family", the artist added.

The connection to Winston Churchill's family was authentic.

Pictures, taken in China in 2010 show Neil Heywood with Lady Henrietta Spencer Churchill, a distant relative of the former prime minister.

Heywood may well have been playing on the Harrow connection: Lady Henrietta's older brother went to the school.

She told Dispatches she knew Neil Heywood well but their business dealings had come to nothing.

Chinese Murder Mystery: Channel 4 Dispatches Special - Monday 12th November at 8pm

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