Neil Heywood's family fight for compensation

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Neil Heywood was found dead in his hotel room in Chongqing in 2011 Photo: Reuters

There was no sign of Neil Heywood's wife at the house on the outskirts of Beijing. A neighbour said she'd been gone for weeks. The gated compounds near the airport are home to many foreign families. Many choose to escape the heat during the school summer holidays and head back to their own countries until the autumn.

It's thought Mrs Heywood and her two children will still try to stay living at the same house. The school the children go to, an outpost of a well-known British private school, is by all accounts being sympathetic when it comes to school fees.

Neil Heywood's light blue Jaguar car with its 007 number plate is still parked outside. Life can never be the same after the loss of the life of a husband, father and son.

The Heywood family have until now largely maintained a dignified silence despite repeated requests from the media for interviews about the murder of Neil Heywood a year and a half ago

Former Communist Party chief Bo Xilai is to face trial over the murder. Credit: Reuters

The wife of a senior Party boss was convicted of his murder last year. That Party chief, Bo Xilai, is due to face trial himself any day now.

Now Ann Heywood, Neil Heywood's 75-year-old mother, has made her first public statement: a plea to China's leaders for compensation.

Read: Mother of Neil Heywood breaks her silence

Today, a lawyer who'd worked for Gu Kailai, Neil Heywood's convicted killer, said the Heywood family is seeking between three and five million pounds in compensation.

Behind the scenes, those who know the family's case told ITV News that an appeal for what could be called "blood money" had to be made. It was expected. It's a widely understood concept in Asia.

Not only that, but under Chinese law the immediate family are entitled to compensation in a murder case. In a case as politically sensitive as this, however, no payment could be made without the informal nod from China's leaders.

Gu Kailai has been convicted of killing Neil Heywood. Credit: Reuters

Ann Heywood's statement today suggests that approval from the top has yet to be given.

Neil Heywood's family and friends have had to endure the circumstances of his death being central to a drawn-out and mysterious scandal. A complicated case of corruption at the highest levels of Chinese politics involving missing millions and murky business deals.

The motive behind the negotiations over compensation is to get enough money to ensure the education and welfare of Mr Heywood's two children, aged eight and 12. It's their futures the family is having to fight for.

Read: Ex-China party chief charged