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Entries in Secret Intelligence Service (2)

Friday
Apr272012

Mystery Deepens in Bizarre British Spy Death Case

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Of the myriad of questions surrounding the case of the British code breaker who was found naked and stuffed into a duffle bag in 2010, expert witnesses on Friday gave at least one answer: he most likely didn't put himself in there.

Gareth Williams, who worked for the British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, was discovered nude inside a padlocked duffle bag that had been placed in the bathtub of his London apartment in 2010. After a nearly two-year investigation, Scotland Yard has been unable to solve the case.

A new courthouse inquest is readdressing the case and Friday video footage was shown of two experts attempting -- and failing -- to lock themselves into a bag identical to the one in which Gareth Williams was found.

Peter Faulding, an expert in rescue from confined spaces, said Friday he failed to lock himself into the bag after 300 attempts.

"I couldn't say it's impossible, but I think even Houdini would have struggled with this one," he said. "My conclusion is that Mr. Williams was either placed in the bag unconscious, or he was dead before he was in the bag."

A second expert, yoga specialist William MacKay, also failed in the task, but refused to completely rule out the possibility that the spy had locked himself in the bag unaided.

Police said they have found evidence on a phone belonging to Williams of very occasional visits to bondage websites. Examination of his computer also showed he had visited websites about claustrophilia or the love of enclosure, the inquest has heard. No classified information was found at his apartment. A fellow spy told the hearing that an internal review had concluded that Williams' death was not connected to his work.

Police said thousands of dollars worth of women's designer clothes were discovered at his apartment, as well as wigs and makeup. Two friends of the dead man have testified that, to their knowledge, Williams had no interest in cross-dressing.

The inquest has been told by police that there was no indication of a break-in at the apartment, and nothing to suggest evidence at the scene was destroyed. Williams' body showed no signs of struggle, drugs, or poison. Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire said police had been working under the assumption that the spy would have been unable to enter and lock the bag by himself, and that a third party must have been involved. She revealed on Tuesday that "two minor components of another contributor's DNA" were found on the zip toggle and padlock. Williams' family has said they believe another person must have been involved in his death.

Crucial forensic evidence may have been lost because it took a week for detectives to visit the apartment after the code breaker failed to show up to work at the headquarters of Britain's intelligence service in mid-August 2010. MI6 have blamed a "breakdown in communication" for the delay in raising the alarm.

Williams was working in London after being seconded to the British spy agency by GCHQ, Britain's secret electronic surveillance agency, where he had previously been employed. His former boss at GCHQ, Stephen Gale, told the inquest he was a "world class intelligence officer."

"He was considered something of a prodigy," Gale said.

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.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr242012

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