Peter Humphrey Shanghai Trial
An internal court video shows British investigator Peter Humphrey arriving at a courtroom after a lunch break, during his trial at Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court, on 8 August. Reuters

A Chinese court has given British investigator Peter Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng a prison sentence of two and a half years and two years, respectively, for illegally obtaining private citizens' information, for work related to GlaxoSmithKline.

The court said Humphrey will be deported but gave no further details on the Briton. It added though that the couple are allowed to appeal against their sentences.

Last month, 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 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.

The court found 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.