BEIJING - A British businessman murdered by the wife of top Chinese politician Bo Xilai had informed on the couple for over a year to his country's spy agency, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Neil Heywood shared details based on his unusually close access to the powerful couple, the paper said, citing his friends and current and former British officials.
The revelation that Heywood was murdered brought down Bo and revealed rifts among top leaders as they negotiated a once-a-decade power handover set to take place this month.
"He had been knowingly providing information about the Bo family to Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, for more than a year," the report said.
It said Heywood became close to the family in the 1990s when Bo was mayor of the northeastern city of Dalian. He was found dead in November last year in the southwestern city of Chongqing, which Bo ran at the time.
Heywood drove a silver Jaguar with the licence plate "007", the Journal said.
After meeting someone in 2009 who later acknowledged being an MI6 officer, the businessman "met that person regularly in China" and provided "information on Mr Bo's private affairs", the paper reported.
Bo's wife was handed a suspended death sentence in August for poisoning Heywood. Bo was removed from the ruling Communist Party's top 25-member Politburo and now awaits trial for abuse of power and other charges.
Heywood's links with the family frayed in the last two years of his life. He was apparently trying to obtain money which he thought they owed him before he left China, the newspaper said, citing his close friends.
Neither Chinese nor British officials pointed to Heywood's spy links as a reason for his murder, it said.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report and the British embassy spokesman in Beijing could not immediately be reached.