Hidden agenda

Know the mystery lawyer in the Heywood case? Well keep it to yourself

Did you ever read John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief ? It’s about a law student who uncovers a conspiracy and writes a brief – a brief that some bad people would (and frequently do) kill to get hold of.

Well, the biggest scandal to hit the ruling Chinese Communist Party in decades – the suspicious death of British businessman Neil Heywood – is beginning to take some twists that are not a million miles away from a Grisham plot.

Heywood died in a hotel room in China in November 2011. His death was initially attributed to alcohol poisoning and his body was cremated without an autopsy.

But earlier this month it was reported that foul play was a possibility and that Gu Kailai (whose husband Bo Xilai was a prominent member of the ruling party in China until he was dismissed in March), with whom Heywood had a business relationship, was “highly suspected” of being involved in the alleged killing.

Moreover, reports suggest that, just before his death, Heywood had an inkling that he might be in trouble and handed documents to a solicitor in the UK as an insurance policy in case anything happened to him. The identity of that solicitor has not yet been revealed.

The Lawyer would say contact us with any information, but given how that worked out for most people in The Pelican Brief, we’re not so sure we want to know.

Here’s hoping that Grisham doesn’t get any material for a sequel.