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China Pledges Probe Into Brit's Mystery Death

China says it will "thoroughly investigate" events surrounding the suspected murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The ruling Communist Party made the commitment just hours after Prime Minister David Cameron raised the case at talks in Downing Street with its propaganda chief Li Changchun.

The party's Central Committee "has made a resolute decision to thoroughly investigate related events and release information in a timely manner, a manifestation of its high sense of responsibility to the causes of the party and the people", a statement from China's official Xinhua news agency said.

"Based on the facts made public so far, the Wang Lijun incident is a serious political event that has created an adverse influence both at home and abroad, the death of Neil Heywood is a serious criminal case involving the kin and aides of a party and state leader, and Bo has seriously violated party discipline," the statement released by the Chinese ruling party added.

On Tuesday, Mr Cameron called for assurances from Mr Li over inquiries into Mr Heywood's death and offered China "any necessary assistance" in its investigation.

The old Harrovian was found dead in a hotel in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing last November, with reports suggesting he may have been poisoned. He was 41.

It was reported last week that Gu Kailai, the wife of the former Communist Party member Bo Xilai, had been arrested in connection with the investigation.

Reports from China have claimed Mr Heywood was a friend of the family and that the two fell out after he demanded a higher fee for helping her to move money out of the country.

Mr Bo, a former rising star in the party, has since been removed from his post and suspended from his seat on the Politburo in a move linked to a power struggle among the Communist Party elite.

The scandal began in February when Mr Bo's former right-hand man, Chongqing ex-police chief Wang Lijun, visited the US consulate in Chengdu and expressed suspicions about Mr Heywood's death, which was originally deemed accidental.

Foreign Secretary William Hague has set out a detailed defence of the Foreign Office's handling of the case, amid complaints by MPs that it took them three months to raise it with the Chinese authorities.