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. Reuters

Chinese prosecutors have charged a British detective, Peter Humphrey, and his American wife with illegally obtaining private information for work related to pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline.

Humphrey has accepted the charges which were presented by prosecutors at the start of a public trial, at the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court.

The court proceedings were witnessed by the couple's son, Harvey, and officials from the British and US embassies.

Prosecutors alleged that Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng had illegally obtained over 200 items of private information, including household registration data, real estate documents and phone records, and then re-sold the data.

When asked by the judge whether the facts in the charges were accurate, Humphrey said: "The overall situation presented was correct. I have no disputes," Reuters reported.

Humphrey is expected to plead guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Humphrey's Testimony

In a testimony read out in court, Humphrey said the due diligence services offered by his risk consultancy, ChinaWhys, were largely based on publicly available records and interviews with executives.

Humphrey also said he had not sold the private information obtained.

"For projects that required background checks, we engaged a third-party consultancy that provided household registration data. We were only paying for their services; we never purchased or obtained such data directly ourselves," he said, according to a transcript released by the court's official microblog.

Humphrey and Yu were formally charged by Chinese authorities on 14 July, 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.

Allegedly, ChinaWhys sold China citizens' information to multinational companies, financial institutions, and law firms, for more than 100,000 yuan (£9,657, $16,239, €12,155) each.

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