Entries in Gareth Williams (2)


British Spy Probably Killed by Another Person, Coroner Says

Ian and Ellen Williams, parents of slain British MI6 officer Gareth Williams, leave the Westminster Coroners Court in central London after the verdict was announced. /AFP/GettyImages(LONDON) -- The long-awaited coroner’s verdict into the mysterious death of a British spy has found that he was probably killed by another person, but it has failed to determine how and why he died.

The naked body of Gareth Williams was found curled up inside a locked duffle bag in the waterless bathtub of his London apartment in 2010. Scotland Yard detectives have so far drawn a blank after an investigation that has lasted 21 months. Williams worked as a code breaker for Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6.

A number of intelligence officers gave evidence anonymously during seven days of court hearings that have made headlines in Britain.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox has concluded that “most of the fundamental questions in relation to how Gareth died remain unanswered.” Wilcox told a packed court Wednesday that she believed somebody else had locked the spy inside the bag, even though no forensic evidence has yet been uncovered as confirmation. Three pathologists advised the inquest earlier this week that asphyxiation or poisoning were the most likely possible causes of death, but the decomposition of his body prevented them from reaching any firm conclusions.

video platform video management video solutions video player

Police are still investigating the unusual and complicated case. New evidence has emerged during the inquest hearing, and traces of DNA found in the apartment that do not belong to the intelligence officer are still being analyzed. The inquest has heard that Britain’s intelligence service failed to hand over belongings to police officers investigating the suspicious death, including computer memory sticks. The spy’s cellphone was mysteriously reset hours before he died.

Det. Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire said after Wednesday’s hearing, “I have always been satisfied that a third party may have been involved in his death, and the coroner has confirmed that in her findings today. The inquest has raised several new lines of inquiry and the investigation will now refocus and actively pursue all the evidence heard and all the new lines of inquiry.”

The coroner told the court in her verdict that it remained a “legitimate line of inquiry” that the secret services were involved in Williams’ death, although there was no evidence to suggest this was the case.

She also dismissed speculation that he died in a sex game. Police say thousands of dollars' worth of women’s designer clothes were discovered at his apartment, as well as wigs and makeup. Examination of the spy’s computer and phone showed that he made four visits to bondage websites.

The coroner even suggested that evidence of an interest in “auto-erotic activity” might have been leaked to the media “by some third party to manipulate the evidence.” Two friends of the dead man have testified that, to their knowledge, Williams was not gay and had no interest in cross-dressing.

A pathologist told the court that the postmortem was hampered by decomposition of the body, after it took a week for MI6 to report his disappearance. Decomposition was made worse by radiators inside the apartment that were inexplicably switched on in the middle of summer.

MI6 have blamed a “breakdown in communication” for the delay in raising the alarm, which might have resulted in the loss of crucial forensic evidence. The coroner at the inquest has said evidence given by the dead spy’s line manager “begins to stretch bounds of credibility.”

The head of the spy agency, John Sawers, has apologized “unreservedly” for the delay in notifying police of the man’s disappearance.

Another pathologist who gave evidence at the inquest said he believed Williams was probably alive when he entered the sports bag, which was fastened with an outside padlock. No signs of struggle were detected on the body of the intelligence officer, and no hand or footprints were found in the bathtub. The court was told by two experts last week that it was highly unlikely that the spy would have been able to lock himself into the bag.

Although no trace of poison was found in the body of Gareth Williams, a pathologist said it could have disappeared from his system in the 10 days it took for his corpse to be discovered and then examined.

Williams was working in London after being temporarily assigned to the British spy agency by GCHQ, Britain’s secret electronic surveillance agency, where he had previously been employed. His former boss at GCHQ told the inquest that he was a “world class intelligence officer.”

Stephen Gale told the court he was considered “something of a prodigy.” His manager at MI6 has called him “a fully deployable, highly talented officer” who had passed exams to do some of MI6′s toughest covert work six months before he was found dead in August 2010.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox told the inquest that it’s unlikely the mystery “will ever be satisfactorily explained.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mystery Over Death of British Spy Intensifies as Inquest Begins

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- It's a case worthy of a Sherlock Holmes story. The mystery over the death of a British spy has only deepened as new details emerged this week at the official inquest into how he died.

The naked body of Gareth Williams, 31, was found curled up inside a locked duffle bag in the bathtub of his London apartment on Aug. 16, 2010. Scotland Yard has so far failed to solve the case in an investigation that has lasted nearly two years.

At the time of his death, Williams was working as a codebreaker at Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, or SIS, also known as MI6.

Police investigators told the inquest that there was no indication of a break-in at the apartment, and nothing to suggest that evidence at the scene was destroyed.

Williams' body showed no signs of struggle, nor that Williams had been drugged or poisoned. Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire said police had been working under the assumption that Williams could not have entered and locked the duffle bag by himself, and that a third party must have been involved. Sebire revealed Tuesday that "two minor components of another contributor's DNA" were found on the bag's zip toggle and padlock.

Williams' family said it believed that another person must have been involved in his death.

Also found at the dead man's apartment was a newspaper cutting of an article about the regrets commonly held by terminally ill patients in the last weeks of their lives. Headlined "Top Five Regrets of the Dying," the story was about a book of the same name written by an Australian nurse who'd spent several years working in palliative care and recorded the dying epiphanies of her patients. The regrets included "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me," "I wish I hadn't worked so hard," "I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings."

Closed-circuit TV images of Williams visiting luxury stores in West London in the days before he died do not suggest he was being followed. Police said thousands of dollars' worth of women's designer clothes were found at Williams' apartment, as well as wigs and makeup. Asked whether Williams was a transvestite, an old friend told the inquest that she did not believe so, and said the items were likely purchased as gifts.

It's not clear why it took a week for detectives to visit the apartment after the codebreaker failed to show up to work at the headquarters of Britain's intelligence service on Aug. 16.

Williams was working at SIS after he was transferred to the agency by Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, its secret electronic surveillance agency, where he had previously been employed. In April 2010, he successfully applied to return to GCHQ earlier than planned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio