News today that Peter Humphrey's trial is to be held behind closed doors should come as no surprise to those that have been following GSK's Chinagate with interest. [GSK-linked investigators Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng face secret trial]
Peter Humphrey and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, were arrested by Chinese authorities last year for illegally buying and selling private information.
Just a few months previous to Humphrey's arrest he was hired by GlaxoSmithKline to do some background searches on the person they believed to be a whistleblower. Vivian Shi, GlaxoSmithKline's head of government affairs in China was the subject of Humphrey's investigation, however, he was unable to find anything that pointed the finger of blame toward Shi.
Humphrey was then told that top executives at GlaxoSmithKline had received a series of emails and a video recording of GSK's Mark Reilly who, at the time, was General Manager of GSK China.
Reilly was later detained and charged by Chinese authorities and stands accused bribery and fraud in connection with a scheme to boost drug sales.
Today's South China Morning Post is reporting...
"US consular officials had been informed on Wednesday when visiting Yu that they would not be able to attend the trial, and that the decision to keep the trial closed had been made on the grounds of privacy, according to the couple’s family friends, who declined to be identified because of the apparent sensitivity of the case."
Two schools of thought here.
1. Humphrey has plea bargained in the hope of a lesser sentence or fine.
2. British Prime Minister David Cameron and Glaxo CEO Andrew Witty have used their influence on the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang.
Point 1 is feasible given that Humphrey knows all about pharmaceutical fraud and probably would have seen more allegations of the whistleblower than the emails GSK have admitted to.
Point 2 is also feasible when we look at David Cameron's recent trip to China.
Here's an article published around the time of Cameron's visit to China. [It's worthy to note that Andrew Witty also accompanied Cameron on this 'business' trip]
David Cameron has risked angering the Chinese government by launching a robust defence of GlaxoSmithKline as the UK drug company steps up its battle to save its reputation in the country.
GSK is facing prosecution from Chinese authorities over allegations of bribery, while dozens of its local employees and a UK man it used as a corporate investigator remain in detention.
The prime minister gave public backing to the company on Tuesday during his three-day trade mission to China . He told reporters in Shanghai: "They are a very important, very decent and strong British business that is a long-term investor in China."
Mr Cameron raised the GSK case with Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier, during talks in Beijing on Monday, as investigators probe allegations the company bribed local doctors to sell GSK's medicines.
Andrew Witty, GSK chief executive, is part of a business delegation accompanying Mr Cameron in China, signalling an intensification of efforts to resolve the dispute.
During this visit Peter Humphrey's son, Harvey, called on Andrew Witty to raise his father’s case while in China for high-level meetings.
“My father was working for GSK. I know Andrew Witty is in China this week and I hope he can take a few minutes to raise my father’s case,” Harvey, 18, a university student now in London, told the Financial Times. “I understand everything is complicated in China but it seems my parents are paying a big price.”Harvey Humphrey is right, his parents are wrapped up in something quite complicated here.
Question is, did Andrew Witty, or indeed, David Cameron influence Li Keqiang, the Chinese premier?
I guess we shall have to wait and see what the outcome is of the trial of Peter Humphrey and his wife, Yu Yingzeng is.
Personally, I hope Humphrey took option 1 and spilled the beans on GSK in an effort to receive a lesser sentence from the Chinese authorities.
The trial is set for Aug 7.
Glaxo - The Sex Tape Scandal
GSK's Private Investigator [The Video]
Peter Humphrey's 2012 Presentation - Pharma Bribery