The British investigator and his American wife and business partner detained in China because of their work for
GlaxoSmithKline will be tried in secret as concerns grow about their health, according to people close to the family.
US consular officials were informed yesterday by Chinese authorities that they would not be able to attend the trial of Peter Humphrey, and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, “on grounds of privacy”, a family friend told the Financial Times. The trial, scheduled for July 29, has been delayed until August 7.
The couple ran a Shanghai-based investigative firm and were hired in April last year by GSK to look into who had placed a camera in the bedroom of Mark Reilly, the British pharmaceutical group’s top manager in China. A film of Mr Reilly in bed with his Chinese girlfriend was emailed to Andrew Witty, GSK’s chief executive, in March that year.
While trials in China are often closed for “national security”, closing one over concerns over privacy is extremely rare.
Mr Humphrey and Ms Yu were also looking into the source of emails sent to Chinese regulators in 2012, alleging that corrupt practices were rife at GSK’s China operations.
Mr Reilly, who left China when they were arrested and then returned to Shanghai to aid in an investigation by local authorities, was this May one of 46 employees identified by the Chinese police as a suspect implicated in “massive and systemic bribery”.
The couple will face one charge of illegally purchasing private information. Another charge, of running an illicit business, has been dropped.
Chinese officials also indicated that the couple’s teenage son, who has not seen his parents since their detention a year ago, will be barred from the court proceedings.
“I am very worried that family and consular officials are not allowed to attend my parents’ trial. This does not involve state secrets. This does not involve national security,” Harvey Humphrey said in a statement.
Mr Humphrey was one of the most experienced investigators in China. He and Ms Yu founded their company, ChinaWhys, in 2003.
According to two people close to the family, Mr Humphrey is suffering from a hernia and has difficulty walking and standing. Ms Yu, a China-born US citizen, has kidney problems.
GSK did not confirm it had employed them until this week. Friends of the couple have expressed concern that GSK did not fully brief them of the gravity of the corruption allegations it faced. The most detailed were outlined in two emails sent to GSK directors in early 2013. GSK declined to comment.
According to the family friend, Ms Yu told US consular officials: “We got caught up in a war unintentionally, but I have no grudges.”
这对夫妇曾在上海运营一家调查公司，他们去年4月被GSK聘用，调查到底是谁在这家英国制药集团中国区主管马克锐(Mark Reilly)的卧室里安装了一个摄像头。去年3月，马克锐和其中国女友在床上的一段视频通过电子邮件被发送给GSK首席执行官安伟杰(Andrew Witty)。