Reuters : Police search for couple over MI6 worker's death

Monday, September 06, 2010

Police search for couple over MI6 worker's death

By Michael Holden | September 6, 2010

LONDON (Reuters) - Police investigating the death of a man who worked for the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 said on Monday they were trying to trace a couple who had called at his flat about a month before he was found dead.

Gareth Williams, 30, was found by police on August 23 at his top floor flat in Pimlico, central London, not far from the spy agency's headquarters, after he was reported missing.

Officers found his naked body in a zipped and padlocked holdall in an empty bath.

Detectives said on Monday that toxicology tests had shown no trace of alcohol or recreational drugs in his body. Nothing was believed to have been stolen from the flat and there was no sign of any forced entry or disturbance inside, they added.

Forensic and further tests on the body are continuing.

"This remains a complex, unexplained death enquiry," said Detective Chief Inspector Jacqueline Sebire from Scotland Yard's Homicide and Serious Crime Command who is leading the investigation.

Williams was working for MI6, which deals with foreign espionage matters, on secondment from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the government's eavesdropping service.

The Foreign Office has made no comment on the death, saying it did not make statements about anyone who might work for the intelligence agencies.

Detectives said they wanted to identify a man and a woman, both of Mediterranean appearance, aged between 20 and 30, who had called at the property late one evening in June or July.

They also issued closed circuit television footage of Williams, who returned to Britain from a holiday in the United States on August 11, on shopping trips in the West End and Knightsbridge areas of London a week before his body was found.

The mysterious circumstances surrounding Williams' death has prompted some experts to question whether he was targetted because of the nature of his work.

"In my own opinion, a murder of this kind bears all the hallmarks of a professional killing and not a rage attack," said Professor Anthony Glees, Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at the University of Buckingham.

"It looks increasingly to me that a hostile intelligence service was responsible. To me this looks like a Russian job -- they have killed in London before -- but it could also be an Iranian one."

However, the fact that the inquiry is being carried out by the homicide unit indicates that police do not believe the death to be related to terrorism or espionage matters.

(Editing by Steve Addison)