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An expatriate British businessman murdered in China was passing information to MI6 about a powerful Communist Party boss, it has been reported.

Neil Heywood was said to have met regularly with an MI6 officer in China and provided details about the private affairs of the now disgraced Bo Xilai, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

In August Mr Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of poisoning Mr Heywood in a hotel room in the city of Chongqing, where her husband was the party chief, in a case which rocked the Communist Party establishment.

Although she was said to have killed him because she thought he had threatened her son over a business dispute, the case has been dogged by speculation that Mr Heywood was working for British intelligence.

In an attempt to quell the rumours, Foreign Secretary William Hague took the rare step of issuing a statement saying the businessman was "not an employee of the British Government in any capacity".

However the WSJ said that while it was "technically true" to say that he was not working for MI6, he was a "wilful and knowing informant".


A man has been arrested and bailed over a cyber attack on the websites of the Home Office and the Home Secretary, Scotland Yard said.

The 41-year-old was held at his home in Stoke-on-Trent on suspicion of encouraging a distributed denial of service attack on the sites.

He allegedly targeted the Home Office and Theresa May's constituency websites and urged others to take part in the attack online.

Distributed denial of service attacks are designed to overwhelm websites so they crash.


As the London 2012 Games draw to a close, VisitBritain looks back over some of the summer's most memorable moments and gives ideas for re-living the magic of the past few weeks.

1. You saw Bond land in the stadium. After his parachute jump with Her Majesty The Queen, it's fitting that Bond's 23rd film – which hits screens next month – is called Skyfall. Make like 007 and try a Martini at the famous Duke's Bar, where Ian Fleming wrote much of Casino Royale, follow in the footsteps of every Bond actor by getting a shirt fitted at Turnbull and Asser (or pyjamas, as favoured by Judi Dench's 'M') or experience the thrill of climbing over the Millennium Dome, as Bond once did, at Up at the 02. Budding Bond girls should get the Goldfinger treatment at the Dolphin Square Spa with a 23 Carat Gold Body Ceremony. 

2. The London 2012 Festival amazed millions of people. The finale of the four year Cultural Olympiad saw some of Britain's most famous places, like Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh and Hadrian's Wall, transformed into the canvas for amazing artworks, and Britain's reputation for excellent culture is set to grow. The Liverpool Biennial, blockbuster exhibitions like Hollywood Costume and Marc Chagall, through to the Manchester International Festival and year-long celebration of Derry-Londonderry as UK City of Culture 2013 are just some of the highlights in store. 

3. You saw Stonehenge in a new light. The London 2012 Festival saw a spectacular fire show illuminate Stonehenge, as well as a bouncy castle version of it tour the country. Next year, visitors will be able to experience the UNESCO heritage site without the disturbance of cars or noise, as a $42.2 million project will divert the road that runs by the stone circle and open a state-of-the-art new visitor centre. 

4. The Olympic Stadium became a familiar sight – as billions of people watched sports events and ceremonies live and on TV. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will reopen one year after the Olympic Games began, on July 27, 2013. Visitors can watch and play sports in the multi-use arena and explore the beautiful parklands and waterways. Want to experience an Olympic venue now? Head to the Lee Valley White Water Centre, the first London 2012 venue to open after the Games which is ready to thrill visitors with its 300m Olympic Standard Competition Course.


Four people have been arrested at one of the UK's new gas-fired power stations, bringing to an end a week-long protest at the site.

Nottinghamshire Police said the final two women climbed down from a tower at West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire on Monday morning and were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

A man and a woman were also arrested on Sunday afternoon, a force spokesman said.

Twenty-one people have now been arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass since the protest began.

A force spokesman said the protesters came from across the country with none living in Nottinghamshire.

The "No Dash For Gas" campaigners have been protesting at the site since making their way into the plant in the early hours of last Monday.

The former chief executive of the Serious Fraud Office received £422,000 in pension and severance payments without proper authorisation, the Whitehall spending watchdog has said.

The National Audit Office ruled that the payments made to Phillippa Williamson when she took voluntary redundancy earlier this year were "irregular".

As a result, it said it was "qualifying" the SFO's annual accounts for 2011-12.

The head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, said: "By failing to seek approval from the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, the Serious Fraud Office entered into an agreement which forced it to make irregular payments. While positive steps have been taken by the incoming director, I have qualified the organisation's accounts."

Ms Williamson left the SFO last April. However, the NAO said there was no evidence that "due process" was followed in instigating voluntary redundancy - such as determining whether any alternative position within the Civil Service had been sought.

On leaving, her severance agreement provided for £407,000 to be paid to MyCSP, which administers the principal Civil Service pension scheme, to cover the additional pension costs arising from her early departure. The SFO should have gained approval from the Cabinet Office for the payment, but the NAO said there was no evidence that it did.

Ms Williamson also received a "special severance payment" of £15,000 which should have received advance approval from the Treasury as it was "in excess of contractual amounts" - but again the NAO said there was no evidence that such approval was sought.


Travellers heading home this Christmas will have to contend with disrupted services on a key London to Scotland rail route on December 23 and 24.

There will also be disruption to services on this West Coast route in the days after Christmas.

Part of a £125 million Bletchley resignalling project, the engineering work is part of planned works over the festive period. The work means there will be no direct services from Euston station in London to Milton Keynes, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool or Glasgow on December 23 and 24.

Hourly services will run from Euston via an alternative route (Chilterns) to Nuneaton where passengers will be able to change for services heading to all the destinations mentioned above.

Direct services resume on Thursday December 27, but with two of the four lines closed up to and including New Year's Eve. This means fewer (but direct) services to the usual destinations.

Network Rail (NR) network operations managing director Robin Gisby said: "Services on the West Coast on December 23 and 24 will be severely affected by a major project to increase line-speeds and capacity in the Milton Keynes area.

"We understand and regret the impact this will have on passengers and freight services, but believe it is unfortunately necessary to achieve the long-term benefits this work will deliver for many years to come."


The number of British nationals stranded on the east coast of America by superstorm Sandy should become clearer, according to a senior UK diplomat.

Danny Lopez, the British consul-general to New York, said that despite the devastating weather phenomenon leaving a large area of New York devastated, consular staff in the US had only been contacted by 14 UK nationals over the past two days.

He told ITV's Daybreak: "It has been a few hours now since Sandy has left but it has become very clear and very apparent what the path of destruction has been, not just in Manhattan but across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

"It is going to be a long process now towards recovery."

Speaking from Lower Manhattan, Mr Lopez said he had never seen anything like the destruction left by the storm.

"What we are hearing from authorities right now is that it will probably take around three or four days for power to come back here to this area," he added.

Mr Lopez said he did not have any figures on how many Britons were stranded in New York, but had heard that JFK and Newark airports would be opening on Wednesday with a limited number of flights.


Emergency laws to deal with "irregularities" in the sectioning of up to 5,000 mental patients have been rushed through the Commons.

The Government had admitted 2,000 doctors involved in decisions to lock up between 4,000 and 5,000 mentally ill people had not been properly approved.

Ministers only learned of the problem last week when a doctor questioned an approval panel's processes.

Queries later revealed four of England's Strategic Health Authorities - North East, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands and East Midlands - shifted responsibility for authorising doctors who assess patients for sectioning from the SHAs to mental health trusts.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said new legislation was needed to bring absolute legal clarity to the situation, which has been going on for 10 years.

Speaking as MPs debated the Mental Health (Approved Functions) Bill, Mr Hunt said: "We believe there are good legal arguments as to why the detentions that are currently taking place as a result of approvals made by the doctors in these four SHAs are and were legal.

"Why, if that is the case, do we feel the need for emergency legislation, retrospective legislation? It's a very reasonable question to ask.


Police forces will have to rely more on special constables and volunteers in the wake of Government budget cuts, a chief constable has said.

Forces will need to rethink the way they work with communities and whether community policing should be left solely to professional police officers and key staff, Sara Thornton said.

In the wake of budget cuts which mean the "low-hanging fruit" has already been picked, forces could look to a greater use of special constables and volunteers beyond 2015, she added.

The vice president of the Association of Chief Police Officers added that "real transformations" are needed, including to the "selection and training of officers" and the way in which forces engage with communities.

"We've trebled the numbers of specials in Thames Valley in the last five years, we've got a significant volunteer programme, we're doing a lot of work around neighbourhood justice panels, work with the charity called Dfuse," she said.

"A whole range of just thinking about why is the community just left to professional police officers and key staff, and what sort of different relationship we can have with the community.

"I think that's a key area which is well known to be underdeveloped."


The deal to reform the pensions of local government workers is being put at risk by "delays and confusion" over its implementation, a leading union has warned.

The GMB said draft regulations to introduce agreed changes to the scheme that were due at the end of September have not been issued. Proposals put forward by unions and employers at the end of July to manage the future costs of the scheme have received no response from the Government, said the GMB.

The Public Service Pensions Bill, which covers the reform of public-sector pensions, will receive its second reading in Parliament on Monday but the GMB said it was " incompatible" with the local government scheme.

GMB national officer Brian Strutton said: "The GMB and the other local government unions have worked really hard with council leaders to design benefit and cost changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) that will make it affordable and fair.

"However, government has been abysmally slow in responding to proposals and has so far failed to keep its side of the deal. For example, LGPS scheme members and employers voted convincingly to accept the reform package and government promised this would be put into draft regulation by the end of September."

Unions were involved in a long-running dispute with the Government over the reforms, which were eventually accepted by local government workers, but not by others, including civil servants and teachers.