Thursday, August 26, 2010


August 26, 2010

MURDERED British spy Gareth Williams is believed to have known his killer, detectives said last night.

The MI6 code breaker let the murderer into the “safe house” where he was later found dead and stuffed into a sports bag.

Police are concentrating on the personal life of the “intensely private” man.

Scotland Yard cannot rule out the possibility that his killer also works for the intelligence services.

Detectives are also probing the theory that the murderer is a one of the few casual acquaintances the 31-year-old single man made outside his top secret world.

Intelligence experts say it is “extremely unlikely” that Mr Williams was murdered by a hit squad with links to either Al Qaeda or dissident Irish terrorists.

He was murdered in his flat on the top floor of a Georgian house in Pimlico, central London, a short distance from MI6 headquarters on the South Bank.

It is believed the killer strangled or suffocated the brilliant mathematician before putting him into a sports bag in the bath.

The killer fled the flat, which is owned by MI6, leaving some of his victim’s possessions strewn on the floor, including a mobile phone and SIM cards.

The body of Mr Williams, who was a fanatical cyclist, was found on Monday afternoon after neighbours became concerned they had not seen him for some time. He may have lain undiscovered for up to two weeks.

A post mortem was carried out yesterday but proved “inconclusive”. A Yard spokesman said: “Further tests will be carried out. There is no evidence that the victim was stabbed.”

Yesterday, Mr Williams’ grieving parents, Ian and Ellen, flew back to Britain from a holiday abroad and gave brief statements to detectives to help in the formal identification of their son.

They were heading to their home in Holyhead, north Wales, last night where they will be comforted by their daughter, Ceri.

A friend of the dead man delivered flowers to the flat yesterday. He declined to speak to reporters and hurried away.

Mr Williams, a former child maths prodigy who was born in Holyhead, had been on secondment to MI6 from the code-breaking GCHQ for more than a year.

It is believed he was due to return to GCHQ’s Cheltenham base next week.

Jenny Elliott, 71, was his landlady in the town from the late Nineties until he moved to London. She said he had recently asked her if he could move back to his old room at her home on September 3.

Retired office worker Mrs Elliott said: “Gareth was a really nice guy who was polite and mild-mannered and wouldn’t hurt a fly. When someone has lived with you for 10 years, you get to know them and Gareth almost became a part of the family.

“I could not imagine Gareth ever making enemies who would want to kill him. Gareth was a very likeable person who didn’t really have any friends.

“He would not talk about his job as it was a secret, on account of working for GCHQ. All he told me was it was something to do with codes.

“I know he had studied maths at Cambridge, so obviously he was a very clever guy. Occasionally you could hear tapes whirring from his flat, which must have been audio cassettes he used for work, but he never told me what they were.”

Neither Mr Williams’ mother or father wished to comment but his uncle, Bill Hughes, said: “It was a terrible shock. He was quiet, unassuming. When he came home he’d be on his bicycle riding around the lanes of Anglesey.

“We knew he was working in London, but he’d never talk about his work and the family knew not to ask.” Mr Hughes added that Gareth was “brilliant” as a child and had gone to a special primary school.

In 2000, his first class performance as a maths graduate at Cambridge earned him a place on a distinguished masters course at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.

But a university spokesman said yesterday: “He didn’t complete the course.”

In London, City worker Jason Hollands, 41, who lives close to Mr Williams’ flat, said: “The police have been very, very strict and they won’t tell us anything.”

Scotland Yard declined to comment, apart from repeating appeals for anyone with information to contact police.

Former Government intelligence analyst Crispin Black, 50, said he did not believe the killer was a terrorist assassin. He said: “The most likely explanation is to be found in the personal life of the individual.”

Patrick Mercer, former chairman of the Commons counter-terrorism subcommittee, said: “This underlines the danger that our outstanding security services have to face on a minute-by-minute basis every single day.”