The parents of British fashion entrepreneur Michael Simpson, who was murdered by his wife last year, are fighting for custody of their grandchildren who remain living with the killer’s family.
Simpson, 34, Next’s head of retail operations in China, was killed in a knife attack by his estranged wife, Fu Weiwei, at his apartment in Shanghai. She also severely injured Simpson’s new partner, Rachel Lin, by slashing her arms.
According to MailOnline, Fu’s family is allegedly demanding £62,000 ($86,400) from the grandparents, Ian Simpson and his ex-wife Linda, in exchange for the custody of the kids: seven-year-old Jack and five-year-old Alice.
Both kids have reportedly lived a privileged life in Shanghai before they were moved to their poor maternal grandparents home some 600 miles away. The children reportedly slept through the murder and were not told what had happened when they were removed by the police from the scene. It was reported that the kids still believe their parents are both working abroad, as they have not been informed of their father’s death nor their mother’s incarceration.
The Simpsons, who find the demand for money outrageous, have been exhausting efforts in navigating the Chinese judicial system.
“It is an outrageous attempt to use the children as pawns to extort money from us,” Ian Simpson said of the demand. “Our lawyers said the demand was very near to being an illegal act of selling children.”
Fu’s family allowed the grandparents to visit the children for the first time after they were moved almost a year ago. According to Simpson, the six-hour meeting at a hotel in Xiangyang was “fantastic but very emotional.”
”Michael and Weiwei were not even mentioned. It just seemed ludicrous that the children did not know – but we could not tell them and then just walk away. Jack was very quiet and only said the odd word. I tried to read to him from Wind In The Willows and he was struggling to understand as he had not spoken English for a year,” Simpson was quoted as saying.
“He cried when we showed him pictures of his father. He just sat on my lap for 40 minutes and never left my side. At the end, he said, ‘Can I stay here with you?’ and I had to say, ‘No, you have to go.’”
The Simpsons have expressed willingness to offer “forgiveness” to enable Fu, who confessed to the murder, to get a reduced sentence from the possible 25-year jail time. They were also prepared to waive their right to compensation from Fu’s family for the murder so they will be granted the promised custody of the children.
However, the huge amount was later demanded from them reportedly as a deposit to cover flights and travel costs for the children’s annual visits to China.
“We just want what is best for our grandchildren,” the paternal grandfather lamented. “They will have a better upbringing here in the UK. It is wrong that Weiwei’s family should attempt to make us pay. We have already lost our son due to her and we do not want to lose our grandchildren as well.”
In 2009, Michael Simpson was sent by Next to Shanghai to work as a senior manager for the firm’s expansion in Asia. He later met and married a shop assistant named Weiwei. Shortly after his separation from Weiwei in 2015, he would date Ms. Lin, a Chinese woman who attended university in the United Kingdom.
Images via iFeng