China has announced that it will publicly prosecute the British investigator Peter Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng after the two were charged with illegally obtaining private information for work related to GlaxoSmithKline.

According to state-run news agency Xinhua, citing statement from the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court, China will allow the public to witness the high profile trial of the couple, after US and UK authorities, as well as family members, vexed concerns over being barred from attending.

"The two defendants hope their families can attend the trial," Xinhua said without adding any more information about the authorities' decision.

Previously, China's foreign ministry pledged to handle legal proceedings in accordance to the law, while US and Uk authorities pushed for a promise that the trial of the couple would be transparent and fair.

On 14 July, Humphrey and Yu were formally charged by Chinese authorities after initially being detained in China, as part of a corruption probe into foreign companies in the country's pharmaceutical sector, in August last year.

Two weeks after their arrest the pair had reportedly confessed to their illegal acts, via their company ChinaWhys, and apologised to China's government.

Chinese state television aired a public confession from British fraud investigator Peter Humphrey, who was detained along with his wife and US citizen Yu Yingzeng, though he made no mention of his former client GSK.

"The way we acquired information was sometimes illegal. I feel very regretful about it and want to apologise to the Chinese government," Humphrey said on the state television.

The couple were charged with illegally buying and selling private information by operating illegal research companies and trafficking personal info on Chinese citizens.

Allegedly, ChinaWhys sold China citizens' information to multinational companies, financial institutions, and law firms, for more than 100,000 yuan (€12,000, £10,000, $16,000) each.

However, authorities have not made a link between GSK and the case against ChinaWhys.

Peter Humphrey GSK
Peter Humphrey (left) and his former client GSK are under investigation by Chinese authorities (Reuters)