Herald Scotland : Plea to gay community for help in explaining spy’s death

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Plea to gay community for help in explaining spy’s death

Chris Greenwood | December 23, 2010

Mystery death spy Gareth Williams visited a series of bondage websites in the months before his bizarre death, police have revealed.

The MI6 codebreaker, whose naked, decomposing body was found in a padlocked holdall with the keys inside in the bath of his central London flat four months ago, had viewed sites showing people bound and tied. They included do-it-yourself guides to the fetish.

Police also found a £15,000 collection of unworn women’s designer clothing including tops, dresses and shoes in his wardrobe and revealed Mr Williams, 31, had visited a drag cabaret in east London four days before his death and held tickets to two more such events.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, who is leading the inquiry that has been delving into the life of the intensely private man, yesterday said she remained convinced someone else helped put him in the bag.

She told a news conference that a witness had seen him at a gay bar several months before his death, but police did not know for certain if he was gay.

She added that police believe they will get to the bottom of the spy’s death.

She said: “We remain completely open-minded about how he died. We are appealing today to someone who is out there to come forward and tell us more.”

The Government Communications Headquarters intelligence officer had been on a year-long secondment to the spy agency from the Government’s eavesdropping headquarters in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, which was due to end days after he was found dead on August 23.

He was discovered by police after he was reported missing. The discovery immediately sparked lurid speculation that included unfounded media reports he may have targeted by people with links to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Theories were put forward that he was killed by those who wanted to steal state secrets.

However, there were also a suggestion from the outset that he died following a sex game that had gone wrong and police have been concentrating on this line of inquiry.

No evidence of drugs, alcohol or poisons were found during a battery of tests conducted by toxicologists, said Ms Sebire, who also revealed police have forensic evidence that other people whom they have been unable to trace were in the flat.

Mr Williams, of Anglesey, North Wales, was last seen alive on August 15, eight days before he was found dead in the £400,000 property.

Mrs Sebire said the six boxes of unworn designer clothing found in a wardrobe included pieces by Stella McCartney, Christopher Kane and Christian Louboutin that had been bought at London boutiques and online.

She said the clothing was in various sizes, all small, and a number of women’s wigs were also found. The items had not been worn or hung up, the buttons were done up and items were still wrapped in paper.

However, Ms Sebire said Mr Williams attended two fashion design courses at Central St Martins College in the capital. His employers did not know he had taken part in or that he was interested in fashion.

She said it was a possibility the clothing purchases were linked to the diploma courses for beginners, which Mr Williams had passed.

Ms Sebire said analysis of Mr Williams’s phones and laptops revealed he visited no more than five bondage websites and had spent between 30 minutes and an hour on the sites from the end of last year until July, shortly before his death on August 16.

However, he did not appear “obsessed” with the subject and no other pornography was found in Alderney Street, she added.

She continued: “The sites primarily feature women and there are guides on how to do certain things.”

On the dead man’s sexuality, the lead officer said: “We do not have any evidence to suggest that he was gay. We have not spoken to any past or present sexual partner, whether male or female.

“We know he was intensely private, and however difficult this might be for someone who has had any interaction with Gareth, it would really help us if they came forward so we know if that side of his life had any relevance to his death.”

Mr Williams attended Bistroteque in the east end of London on Friday August 13. Police said the restaurant, bar and theatre venue hosted Jimmy Woo, a drag cabaret act, that night and the spy went alone.

Others who were at the event have told police Mr Williams chatted amicably with some of the audience.

Mr Williams, who lived alone, also held tickets for drag shows that took place after his death.

Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell said police hope that revealing some details of Mr Williams’ private life may encourage people to come forward.

He said: “This is not intended to add salacious detail or tittle-tattle. We feel there is some small sub-group of the community or individuals who may know something about this matter and the nature of Gareth’s death.

Mr Campbell added that investigators were sure someone else involved with the bondage or gay scene had “linked in” with Mr Williams.

He said: “We are very sure that someone else was in that flat. We want to know the circumstances when you would leave somebody in that position, by accident or design. Maybe, by explaining to the public, someone will think: ‘I get it and I can explain.”

Visiting pair are sought by detectives

MI6 spy Gareth Williams may have died at the hands of a mystery bondage sex partner he met on London’s gay scene, detectives have suggested.

Police have released two e-fits of a couple who they said they were visiting Mr Williams’s home in late June or July. The casually dressed Mediterranean couple, in their twenties, were buzzed through the communal entrance by another resident at the property in Pimlico.

They suggested they had been given a key by “Pierre Palo” and were on their way to flat four.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire said that an expert brought in to examine the red North Face holdall in which Mr Williams was found concluded he could not have locked it himself. The zip was held shut by a common travel-style Yale padlock through holes in two zip fasteners.

Tests found the temperature inside the bag would have risen to 30°C within three minutes. An expert on survivability in confined spaces from the National Policing Improvement Agency said he would have suffocated in 30 minutes.

She said Mr Williams probably died in the early hours of August 16, a week before he was found, and there was no sign of injury apart from bruising to his elbows, which might have occurred some time before his death.

Speaking about how Mr Williams ended up in the bag, Mrs Sebire said an expert found it was “quite easy” to fit someone inside. She said: “If he was alive, he got into it voluntarily or, if not, he was unconscious and placed in the bag.

“There is forensic evidence that indicates the presence of other people that we have not been able to eliminate yet.”

Mrs Sebire said there was no evidence Mr Williams was suicidal and no signs of forced entry at the flat. None of his possessions were laid out in a “ritualistic” manner, she added.

Mr Williams had a laptop and four mobile phones, including at least one pay-as-you go handset. The death remains suspicious and unexplained and no conclusive cause of death has been found. An inquest will be held at Westminster Coroner’s Court on February 15.