British spy may have been poisoned or strangled, police say
By Ben Leach | August 26, 2010
The mystery over the murder of Gareth Williams, a British spy whose body was found in a sports bag in his bathroom, has deepened after police said they had been unable to determine whether he was poisoned, strangled or smothered.
Detectives have ordered further tests to be carried out on the body of Gareth Williams after a post-mortem examination proved inconclusive.
Toxicology tests have been ordered to see if any unexpected substances are present in the 31-year-old's body.
But police sources have dismissed reports that he had been stabbed or even dismembered.
Mr Williams had been working for MI6 on a one-year posting but was due to return to his regular job at the GCHQ listening station in Cheltenham at the start of next month.
Detectives are still investigating whether his death was linked to his work or to his private life, with one theory suggesting he might have had a violent row with a lover. However a connection with his work has not been ruled out.
Officers were yesterday examining Mr Williams’s mobile phone, which was found with several sim cards neatly laid out beside it, to find out his last contacts and when they were made.
They were also studying CCTV images from cameras near the Georgian townhouse where Mr Williams had lived alone for the past year.
There was no sign of forced entry at the flat in Pimlico, central London, suggesting the killer was someone Mr Williams knew. Nothing had been stolen.
Mr Williams’s parents, Ellen and Ian, from Valley, Anglesey, flew back to Britain from a foreign holiday to identify their son’s body after being told of his death on Monday.
The spy’s uncle, William Hughes, said: “It was a terrible shock when we had the phone call. I couldn’t believe such a thing could happen.”
Mr Hughes said the family had been given no clues as to the motive for the murder, adding that Mr Williams was “quiet and unassuming” and never talked about his job. “He would never talk about his work and the family knew not to ask,” he said.
Mr Williams was a maths graduate who began a masters in advanced mathematics at St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, in 2000, but failed an exam the following year and left the course.
He immediately began working at Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, in Cheltenham, where he rented a room for nine years from Jennifer Elliott, 71.
Mrs Elliott said: “I spoke to him three weeks ago, he rang me to say he was coming back on Sept 3. I don’t think he was very happy in London, he told me he missed the countryside.”
Mrs Elliott said Mr Williams, a cycling enthusiast, lived quietly in his self-contained flat, “didn’t have any friends as such” and had never had a girlfriend in the time he lived there.
“He was an extremely intelligent person but would not talk about his job as it was a secret. All he told me was it was something to do with codes.
“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.”
Security sources refused to be drawn on why it took so long for Mr Williams to be reported missing, but it is thought he was taking annual leave before returning to his old job.
Mr Hughes described his nephew as a “brilliant” man, adding: “The family knew this from a very, very young age. He was a very clever lad. When he was at secondary school he would go to university one day a week.”
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, was given updates on the investigation as part of a scheduled intelligence briefing yesterday.