Scotsman : Further tests aim to reveal how MI6 spy died

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Further tests aim to reveal how MI6 spy died

By Rory Reynolds | August 29, 2010

INVESTIGATORS are attempting to determine the exact cause of death of MI6 codebreaker Gareth Williams, police said last night.

However, tests to establish whether the 30-year-old was poisoned, drugged or asphyxiated may not be completed until later this week and this will delay attempts to piece together exactly how he died. A post-mortem examination last week proved inconclusive.

Williams was last seen alive eight days before his corpse was found stuffed in a bag at his flat in Pimlico, London. A confirmed sighting of Williams, who was on a year-long secondment from GCHQ, was made on 15 August in London, officers said. But police would not say whether the sighting was made on CCTV or came from another source.

The inquiry is being led by the Metropolitan Police's Homicide Command with the support of security-vetted Counter Terror Command unit SO15. In an unusual move, Scotland Yard has denied rumours circulated by the security services about Williams' private life.

Intelligence community sources had claimed Williams was gay, had paraphernalia associated with sado-masochism in his flat and was linked to male escorts. However, police say the claims are unsubstantiated, sparking speculation that elements in the intelligence community have attempted to carry out a smear campaign against Williams.

Daily Record : Death of code-breaker Gareth Williams set to remain mystery for days

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Death of code-breaker Gareth Williams set to remain mystery for days

By Bruce Walker | August 29, 2010

CODE-BREAKER spy Gareth Williams’ cause of death will remain a mystery for several more days, police said yesterday.

The complex nature of the tests being carried out mean it could be next week before they can piece together how the maths genius died.

A post-mortem failed to turn up any conclusive evidence on the death of 30-year-old Williams, who worked at the Government spy centre GCHQ and was on secondment to MI6.

He was last seen alive on August 15, eight days before his corpse was found stuffed in a sports holdall in the bath at his Government-owned flat in Pimlico, London.

His family have hit out at claims he could have been involved in risky sexual practices and had links to a male escort.

Officers are examining his mobile phone and financial records for any clues about his personal life.

Scotland Yard yesterday played down reports that thousands of pounds had passed through his bank account shortly before his death as “pure speculation”.

Williams was days away from completing a one-year secondment to MI6 and was set to return to Cheltenham, where GCHQ is based.

Telegraph : Gareth Williams: 'backroom boy' spy was really a high-flier

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gareth Williams: 'backroom boy' spy was really a high-flier

The MI6 worker found dead last week was at the cutting edge of espionage technology, says Gordon Thomas

August 29, 2010

[A British spy who was found dead in the bath of a flat in London was stabbed several times before his body was stuffed into a sports bag where it lay decomposing for up to two weeks.]

The Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham is Britain’s last great secret. Now it is in the focus of intense speculation among its stunned staff. Never before has one of their own been murdered. In GCHQ’s caf├ęs, the seating area around the lawn at the core of the doughnut-shaped building and behind anonymous doors simply marked “No admission”, the same question continues to be asked: who murdered Gareth Williams – and why?

Despite his widow’s-peak haircut and geeky smile, he worked at the cutting edge of computer technology. His mathematical brain made him a vital tool in the fight against terrorism and cyber warfare. Yet the security services are anxious to play down his role, so as not to alarm the world over his importance to anyone involved in his murder.

In 2000, Williams left his Cambridge University course in advanced mathematics because he had already learned all he could. By then, he had also been “tapped” – recruited by GCHQ scouts, who tour universities looking for talent.

No one can be certain why he signed up. It wasn’t the salary. His £40,000 a year was far less than he could have earned in industry. But it is very likely that, like so many of his young colleagues at GCHQ, he was attracted by the challenges, the excitement of working at the centre of events that he would often know about before even the Prime Minister.

Being on the inside track would also have fitted his personality. Williams was the quintessential loner. His former landlady, Jenny Elliot, 71, said last week that “his life was his work”. He was exactly what GCHQ would have wanted.

The 30-year-old bachelor loved to go cycling and keep his muscular frame in trim in the GCHQ gym – pursuits of a single man. If he ever visited Cheltenham’s bars or went on dates, he kept such socialising to himself. Within the tight-lipped GCHQ community, he obeyed the law laid down by its director, Iain Lobban, who told his staff when he took over in 2008: “Say nothing to anybody.”

When Williams joined in 2001, he found himself among the largest group of mathematicians gathered within one UK organisation, along with hundreds of cryptologists and analysts. It’s a big operation: the electricity required to run GCHQ’s supercomputers would light a small town. He became part of a world where computers were linked to storage systems, each holding a petabyte of data – eight times more than the entire word count of the British Library. Soon, he found himself working in the Super Computer Centre, developing techniques to speed up data encryption.

A former GCHQ employee recalled last week that staff would boast that when one of its female employees became pregnant, “our computers could capture the first birth cry of her baby and follow the infant through life to its death, no matter where on earth it happened”.

Gareth Williams died without leaving such a trace. Last year, his section leader had told him he was being seconded to the London headquarters of MI6. It was a further sign of his steady progress up the hierarchy at GCHQ.

In 2003, he spent six months at Menwith Hill, the ultra-secret RAF station in Yorkshire. In reality, it is a transplant of the United States; the only connection with Britain is the detachment of Ministry of Defence police that patrols the perimeter.

It was here that Williams learned how to analyse the findings from Menwith Hill’s radomes – the imposing white structures resembling gigantic golf balls that intercept coded messages from satellite communication systems, which are then broken before being sent to GCHQ for further analysis.

In 2006, Williams also spent time at Fort Meade in Maryland, home of the United States’ National Security Agency, GCHQ’s partner in global surveillance. As GCHQ gathers secret intelligence from Europe, Africa and Russia west of the Ural Mountains, NSA covers east of the mountains, including Japan and China, the Pacific and South America. As a new arrival, Williams was invited to listen to recordings of Osama bin Laden talking to his mother on his satellite phone in the aftermath of 9/11.

With his tenure at MI6 coming to an end, Williams was told that he would rejoin GCHQ in a new department, the Cyber Security Operations Centre, a team of traffic analysts tracking the threat posed by would-be cyber terrorists to Britain’s banks and infrastructure. He died before he could take up this promotion.

A further sign of Williams’s importance was that he had been assigned to live at 36 Alderney Street – a high-security apartment in Pimlico that MI6 would have previously used to debrief one of its agents or a defector. Like all safe houses, it was functionally furnished – but with a direct phone line to MI6 headquarters less than a mile away. Williams would have been cautioned about who he was allowed to entertain at home.

In the days since his body was discovered last Monday, conspiracy theorists have filled the internet with claims that Williams had been stabbed and poisoned; that he was the victim of a sex attack; that he was either homosexual or transvestite; that sado-masochistic bondage gear had been found in the flat; that he was murdered because he had threatened to expose a cabal of gays in the intelligence world. All such possibilities are being examined this weekend by MI6 and MI5 working with Scotland Yard detectives.

Investigators have already discounted a theory that Williams was killed elsewhere and brought back to the apartment in the sports bag. But they are investigating whether a second key was cut for the apartment; locksmiths across London are being checked. CCTV footage at nearby Victoria station, as well as other London railway terminals, is under review for images of Williams returning from a recent holiday. He is known to have been back in London since August 11, and that a sighting was made on August 15 – one of the few details police have released.

As well as having trouble gathering evidence, police are finding it difficult to discover the exact nature of Williams’s work. They have been briefed that, despite earlier denials, it “impinged on national security”.

An intelligence officer close to the investigation confirmed: “He was not just a cog in the wheel. He had an important part in making the wheel go round.”

On Tuesday, a second post-mortem will be held: an initial post-mortem proved inconclusive, ruling out stabbing or shooting, with toxicology results still pending. I have been told that the Home Office forensic pathologist will be looking for evidence that Williams was neither stabbed nor poisoned, but smothered to death.

Dr Fawzi Renomran, the London-trained pathologist who conducted the autopsy on the body of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas terrorist who was killed in Dubai earlier this year, concluded that he had been smothered by a Mossad hit team. “It was a difficult form of murder to prove,” he said.

But, apart from Mossad, there are other intelligence services with experts in murder by smothering. They include the Russian SVR and the Chinese Secret Intelligence Service. Terrorist groups are also known to have used the method.

Until the next autopsy report becomes public, those two key questions – who murdered Gareth Williams, and why? – will continue to echo around GCHQ.

News Of The World : Murder spook had rainbow wig and make-up

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Murder spook had rainbow wig and make-up

By Lucy Panton, Crime Editor | August 29, 2010

MURDERED MI6 spy Gareth Williams was found padlocked inside a sports bag with a rainbow wig at his flat, the News of the World can exclusively reveal.

Williams, 31-a brilliant mathematician on secondment to foreign spy service MI6 from eavesdropping base GCHQ-was found dead on Monday, eight days after he was last seen.

It was initially reported that his body had been stuffed in a suitcase.

But we can reveal he was PADLOCKED inside a red North Face sports holdall.

Our revelations today give the first accurate picture of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the death.

The alarm was raised by Williams' worried sister Ceri Subbe after he failed to return her calls.

Officers who arrived at the rented £400,000 top-floor flat in Pimlico, central London, described it as pristinely clean with no sign of disturbance or blood.

They found a number of hair-pieces including a flamboyant rainbow WIG and a MAKE-UP collection.

And in another twist it emerged that cycling fanatic Williams was expected to join friends at a TRANSVESTITE comedy club shortly before his death. Williams' private life is now a major part of the inquiry into his death.

A security source told us: "It is a baffling set of circumstances to find a body in. This man's flat was incredibly clean, not your typical bachelor pad.

"There were a number of wigs and some make-up found which have led to questions over whether he was a cross-dresser. Police found no signs of disturbance or anything to suggest a struggle and it does not appear anything was taken."

Two laptops including an expensive Apple Mac, memory sticks and two iPhones were among valuables still in the flat.

The security source added: "With so many unanswered questions from the scene it is hard to give the family the answers they so desperately want about how their son died."

Police are now probing CCTV footage around the flat, a short distance from MI6's HQ beside the Thames.

The source added: "Until the toxicology tests come back no one can speculate on the cause of death and until they know that they will not class it as a murder."

We can reveal that Mr Williams had a withered hand following a cycling accident.

A relative revealed how his hand was "twisted and damaged" and left him unable to use it properly.

Downing Street, domestic intelligence agency MI5 and Scotland Yard are being kept informed about the case.

Senior Government figures are concerned that someone with so many question marks over his private life could hold a post in which he could be vulnerable to blackmail.

Officers are probing his bank accounts after reports of several deposits of around £2,000. One theory is Williams was a blackmail victim and was transferring money into his account to pay off a tormentor.

Family members have insisted they knew nothing of a gay or cross-dressing lifestyle.

On Friday his parents Ian and Ellen and their family released a statement saying: "Gareth was a generous, loving son, brother and friend."


Sunday, August 29, 2010



Gareth Williams played a key role in the world’s most sensitive and secretive electronic intelligence gathering system – leading to new fears about the serious national security implications of his death.

Mr Williams was a top-level cryptologist helping to oversee a network called Echelon, which links satellites and super-computers in Britain and the US with those of other key allies.

Set up to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Echelon now eavesdrops on terror suspects and drug dealers, and searches for other political and diplomatic intelligence.

It reputedly intercepts five billion conversations and other forms of communications every day.

Echelon looks for key words and phrases that might suggest, for example, that a terrorist attack is being planned.

Mr Williams’s expertise in his field is reflected by the fact that he had been posted to MI6’s key listening station in Afghanistan, and had been sent to Fort Meade, in Maryland, home of the US National Security Agency.

He is also thought to have visited the NSA cryptology centres at San Antonio, Texas, and at Denver, Colorado.

It is understood Mr Williams was part of a team of maths geniuses trying to adapt the 40-year-old Echelon system to deal with new forms of electronic communications.

According to sources, one of the big issues Mr Williams was working on was how the security and intelligence agencies can monitor internet telephone calls – known as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) – such as Skype, which are being used by terrorists and foreign agents to try to circumvent routine eavesdropping on telephone and mobile networks.

It is understood he was also involved in refining the sophisticated algorithms which determine the key words and phrases the system is looking for as it monitors conversations taking place around the world.

Mr Williams’s death is likely to be a major blow to GCHQ’s efforts to crack VOIP.

Two years ago Britain’s Intelligence and Security Committee, which oversees the work of Britain’s spies, revealed: ‘One of the greatest challenges for GCHQ is to maintain its intercept capability in the face of rapidly evolving communications technology.

‘This relates in particular to the growth in internet-based communications and voice over internet telephony.’

The scope of his role was last night reinforced by the revelation that Mr Williams did at least two tours to Afghanistan, helping to break coded Taliban messages.

He was sent to MI6’s station in Kabul twice in 2008, according to Ministry of Defence sources.

His code-breaking work is thought to have helped save the lives of scores of British soldiers under daily attack from insurgents.

Mr Williams would have studied the coded language of Taliban leaders planning to attack British and other NATO patrols and, in some cases, discover the location of those who sent the messages.

Among the favourite warning codes used by insurgents to set up their attacks are ‘big wedding’, ‘getting married’ and ‘birthday party’.


Sunday, August 29, 2010


By SIMON TRUMP | August 29, 2010

The mother of a British spy murdered 20 years ago has criticised the ‘heartless and despicable disinformation’ leaked by MI6 to cover up the truth about his undercover work.

Diana Moyle’s son Jonathan, a former RAF pilot and defence journalist, was assassinated in a hotel bedroom in Chile in 1990. His death was made to look like a sex game which went wrong.

Mrs Moyle spoke out yesterday as the family of Gareth Williams denounced similar false rumours about him using male escorts and keeping gay pornographic material.

She said: ‘My heart goes out to the family of Gareth Williams. Why should they have to hear such cruel untruths being spread about his death? Perhaps some would claim it was in the national interest.

‘But we went through exactly the same thing when Jonathan was killed two decades ago. The pain which those lies caused me then and now is unbearable.

‘My son was a bright, articulate and decent fellow who was proud to serve his country and his reputation was sullied by a series of comments made by a Government official at a reception.

‘He wrote to us apologising for his claims which he said were “overheard” and then printed by journalists but I know that such things are not accidentally leaked. It is done deliberately.’

Jonathan Moyle’s body was found hanging inside a wardrobe with a padded noose around his neck in a hotel in the Chilean capital Santiago. He had been investigating a company owned by arms dealer Carlos Cardoen which was modifiying helicopters, possibly to carry nuclear weapons, to sell to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

A Foreign Office official, believed to be an MI6 source, alleged at an official reception that Moyle had died accidentally while engaged in an auto-erotic act.

But Mrs Moyle’s late husband Anthony, a retired teacher, who died three years ago aged 78, refused to accept his son had killed himself in this manner.

Prior to his own death, Mr Moyle discovered his son was probably drugged, suffocated, injected with a lethal substance – a syringe was found at the scene – and then strung up in the closet. The same view was shared by Richard van Oppen, the coroner for East Devon, where the Moyles lived at the time, who returned a verdict of unlawful killing at his inquest held in 1998.

It was only revealed after Anthony Moyle’s death that Jonathan had been recruited by MI6 while a student at Aberystwyth University.

Mrs Moyle said: ‘I spoke to Jonathan ten minutes before he probably died. He was in good spirits even though he had just got back to discover his room had been ransacked and there were papers scattered everywhere.’

Author Wensley Clarkson, who wrote a best-selling book about the Moyle case, said his death seemed to have been a ‘message’ from his enemies and ‘it certainly looks that way with the Williams case as well’.

He added: ‘The Williams family – just like the Moyles – deserve to be given a proper explanation of why and how Gareth died.’

Daily Mail : Investigation into death of British spy Gareth Williams takes another mystifying turn: What happened to 18K in spy's bank?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Investigation into death of British spy Gareth Williams takes another mystifying turn: What happened to 18K in spy's bank?

* Forensic accountants called in to examine Gareth Williams's bank account
* Detectives question staff at Thames boating club
* Police increasingly frustrated at lack of help from MI6

By Ian Gallagher And Abul Taher | August 29, 2010

The investigation into the death of British spy Gareth Williams took another mystifying turn last night with the claim that £18,000 disappeared from one of his bank accounts two months ago – and cannot be immediately traced.

According to a source close to the invest­igation, forensic accountants have been called in by detectives to try to establish where the money, apparently moved by ‘complex means’, ended up.

The Mail on Sunday has been told that the sum was moved from Mr Williams’s
Barclays online deposit account. It is understood that his salary was paid into a Cheltenham & Gloucester account.

Last night there was no independent confirmation of the claim which, if correct, will inevitably fuel speculation that the 31-year-old cipher and codes specialist may have been blackmailed.

It has been reported that he may have been selling information and was seeking to hide the money, possibly offshore. Scotland Yard declined to comment last night on either allegation.

The source said that police acknowledge it is equally possible that there is an innocent explanation for the money’s disappearance. Mr Williams reportedly led a frugal lifestyle – a passion for cycling apparently dominating his life outside work – and it simply may be that he was an assiduous saver.

Other reports have claimed that three sums of £2,000 were paid into Mr Williams’s bank account on consecutive days and then withdrawn on consecutive days in the weeks before his death.

However, sources suggest that it is likely that these deposits were the £2,000 tax-free monthly allowance the spy received while he was in London on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, the Government listening post in Cheltenham.

The Mail on Sunday has also been told, meanwhile, that two bundles of cash – £500 in each – were found in the London flat where Mr Williams was found dead last week. One bundle was in an envelope, the other was said to have been bound with an elastic band.

There is nothing to suggest a sinister reason for their presence, but sources say they may be significant because they were left behind. Police would would not comment on this claim last night.

Investigators suspect Mr Williams may have known his killer as there was no sign of forced entry at his top-floor flat in Pimlico, where police forensic officers in white protective suits were working yesterday. At 4pm they took away two bags of evidence.

'He also said that the Government met his rent, that’s how he could afford to live in Pimlico. He was a loner.’

In another intriguing development, The Mail on Sunday has been told that police have been making inquiries about another GCHQ worker who used to live in the same flat. They are said to be examining CCTV footage taken from a boating club this man belonged to on the Thames, near MI6 headquarters.

Detectives visited the Westminster Boating Base, which helps children learn sailing and kayaking, two days after Mr Williams’ body was found – and interviewed its manager Kevin Burk for more than an hour. They also looked at video of sailing trips which the man went on. It is believed that the detectives may have taken some of the recordings with them for further analysis.

Detectives then called Mr Burk the following day, interviewing him for another hour by telephone. They gave him strict orders not to talk to the Press or the public. It is understood he was asked detailed questions about the former colleague of Mr Williams, who The Mail on Sunday has agreed not to name. The man is thought to have moved out of the flat six months ago.

Neighbour Stephen Barnes, who first met the man two years ago, said: ‘This chap told me he worked for the civil service, in the technology side. He also said that the Government met his rent, that’s how he could afford to live in Pimlico. He was a loner.’

Mr Barnes, who runs a medical supplies company from his home, was also interviewed and detectives asked him to supply all the information he had on the man.

The investigation into Mr Williams’s death has been beset from the outset by a number of difficulties, including claims of a frustrating lack of help from MI6, and unexplained avenues of inquiry.

But the biggest problem faced so far has been the failure to discover how Mr Williams died.

‘We can’t even say for sure that he was murdered,’ said a Scotland Yard spokesman.

The results of a post mortem are not expected for at least another week. And while he was last seen on August 15 in London – and was found in his flat eight days later – it is not known exactly when he died.

‘This has had the effect of elongating the inquiry,’ said a police source.

‘For one thing it means that there is much more CCTV to go through. Everything is taking a lot of time.’

While Scotland Yard has been reluctant to comment on aspects of the crime scene, it strongly refuted suggestions that ‘bondage equipment and gay paraphernalia’ were found in the flat.

‘Those reports are garbage,’ said a spokesman, who also dismissed suggestions that gay contact magazines were found. But he declined to comment on various claims about Mr Williams’s private life, including suggestions that he was gay and a cross-dresser.

Last night his family were said to be ‘furious’ that officers investigating his killing had allowed false claims of a wild homosexual lifestyle to gather momentum, with his parents Ian and Ellen feeling ‘let down’ by the failure to scotch the speculation sooner.

Mr Williams’s uncle, William Hughes, said: ‘Gareth’s name and reputation were being destroyed by these horrible and completely fictitious accounts of his private life.’

After Scotland Yard dismissed the allegations, Mr Hughes said: ‘Of course we are relieved – hugely relieved – that these statements have finally been put out by the police, but what took them so long?

‘The police have known since his body was first found that there was none of this material at the scene. They knew how painful it was for the family to read these untrue, salacious accounts . . . they could have stamped on the speculation on day one, but chose not to. It was devastating for our family to have to read these details about Gareth. It was not the Gareth we knew.

‘To the best of our knowledge, Gareth was not gay and he has never had any interest in the things that were said about him. We hope the denials from the police will now end the speculation.’

Sydney Morning Herald : Family of dead spy furious at smears

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Family of dead spy furious at smears

August 29, 2010

LONDON: The family of the British spy murdered in London have attacked ''completely false'' smears about his private life.

As police focused inquiries on Gareth Williams's close friends and associates, it was disclosed that the MI6 worker's parents were ''furious'' about claims that he had a double life.

His family suggested that reports he was homosexual or a cross-dresser were part of a deliberate campaign of misinformation designed to distract attention from the facts of the case.
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Police dismissed reports of bondage equipment being found in the London flat where the body of Mr Williams, 31, (pictured) was discovered, along with claims that his mobile phone contained numbers for male escorts.

Detectives began a second forensic sweep of the crime scene.

The question police are trying to clarify is why the killer ''or a partner'' placed Mr Williams's body in a large sports bag in the bath.

Police are working on the assumption that it is a murder but have not ruled out that Mr Williams could have died in a bizarre accident or from an accidental drugs overdose.

Mr Williams's parents, Ellen and Ian, who live in Holyhead, Wales, were said to be ''absolutely devastated'' and ''raw with emotion''.

William Hughes, the victim's uncle, said they were also ''very, very angry'' about reports of secrets in his private life.

''It is completely false,'' Mr Hughes said. ''The lad had been away from home for a long time. We did not know much about his private life but it has never crossed any of our minds that he could be gay.''

The body of the agent, who worked for the Government Communications Headquarters listening station in Cheltenham and was on secondment to MI6, was found by police on Monday.

An autopsy was inconclusive.

Island Crisis [Mauritius] : Police officials say reports that dead MI6 official was secretly gay appear to be wrong, possible professional hit

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Police officials say reports that dead MI6 official was secretly gay appear to be wrong, possible professional hit

BNO NEWS | August 29, 2010

LONDON (BNO NEWS) – Police officials on Sunday said that claims that the MI6 intelligence official who was found dead and stuffed in a bag died because of his secretly gay life and his fetish for extreme bondage were false and likely part of a smear campaign to detract from his life as an intelligence official, the Guardian reported.

Police said that they did find bondage equipment at Gareth Williams residence but there was evidence of a break-in. Earlier reports of sim cards arranged in a “ritualistic” fashion were untrue, according to police. Police who found the body said that his death was “a neat job,” leading to speculation that he was killed in a professional hit.

Claims that the 31-year-old intelligence officer from MI6 was secretly gay appear to be wrong, according to a police dispatch. His family claims that he is the victim of a smear campaign to deflect attention from his work as a code-cracker or a cipher. He was last seen alive on August 15, eight days before his body was found. Police found no mess and no sign of a struggle.

A pathologist has been unable to find a cause of death, toxicology reports will determine if he was poisoned or if there was alcohol and drugs involved. There were previous claims that he was killed by someone he knew after thousands of pounds were paid into and withdrawn from a bank account in the days leading up to his death, but Police said those claims are “pure speculation”.

Williams was known to be very private, but a mathematical prodigy, he studied at Bangor University for a degree at 13. He emerged with first class honors. He regularly traveled to the United States where it’s understood that he worked at the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland. The NSA is the U.S. government’s listening post and largest intelligence agency in the world.

He was sent to MI6’s station in Kabul where he was to help break codes used by the Taliban. He was transferred to the MI6 last year on temporary assignment.

Mirror : Was MI6 spy Gareth Williams poisoned?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Was MI6 spy Gareth Williams poisoned?

By Justin Penroe | August 29, 2010

Detectives hunting the killer of MI6 spy Gareth Williams were last night working on the theory he was poisoned.

In a new twist to an investigation which has so far baffled murder squad detectives, tests have revealed there were no signs of violence on his body, and no signs he had taken part in any sexual activity.

The results add weight to theories that maths genius Mr Williams, 30, was targeted because of his job as a code breaker with GCHQ. Detectives have ordered a toxicology test to look for traces of poison in his bloodstream. The results are not expected for at least another week, but officers fear he was ­murdered like former KGB agent ­Alexander Litvinenko – whose tea was spiked with poison. Another possibility being considered is that Mr Williams was either drugged or died of a drug overdose in his Central London flat.

His body was discovered stuffed in a sports bag at the flat on ­Monday.

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.

A police source said: “Until we get the toxicology results it is a mystery how he died, but poisoning because of his work is a distinct possibility.”

Independent : MI6 death: Murder most strange

Sunday, August 29, 2010

MI6 death: Murder most strange

Jonathan Owen tries to determine the facts about the death of intelligence officer Gareth Williams, and asks experts for their views on a real-life spy mystery

Jonathan Owen | August 29, 2010

The Metropolitan Police were under mounting pressure last night to bring in counter-terrorism officers to investigate the death of Gareth Williams, the British intelligence officer whose decomposing body was found stuffed in a sports bag in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London, last Monday.

Officers from the Met's Homicide and Serious Crime Command are understood to be furious at being stonewalled by Britain's secretive intelligence agencies. Detectives claim to have been "blocked" from interviewing potentially crucial witnesses, such as Mr Williams's "best friend", a female colleague at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), who was posted to the US last month.

Counter-terrorism officers are security vetted, which would make it harder for intelligence agencies to withhold information on the grounds of security clearance, say detectives. "It's a big cover-up... The security services obviously don't want the police to pry too deeply," said a police source.

It emerged yesterday that police are investigating three sums of £2,000 paid into Mr Williams's account on consecutive days, and then withdrawn on consecutive days, with the last transaction on the eve of his killing. The money trail has heightened concerns that his death may present a national security risk. Mr Williams was on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ and was a regular visitor to the US National Security Agency HQ, Fort Meade.

His murder is unprecedented in that it took place just a short walk from MI6 and has seen a police investigation undertaken amid a frenzy of public speculation. Even the basic fact that he was murdered has yet to be officially confirmed, with a post mortem failing to discover the cause of death, despite reports he had been stabbed and found dumped in a sports bag in his bath. Police will only describe it as a "suspicious and unexplained death", and tests are under way to establish how the 30-year-old mathematician from Anglesey died. The results are expected this week. And after initially claiming he had been dead for two weeks before his body was found, police said on Friday that he had been in London from 11 August, with the last sighting of him on 15 August.

Mr Williams's family hit out yesterday at speculation in some newspapers that he was a cross-dressing homosexual who may have been killed by a gay lover. His uncle, William Hughes, said: "The family are concerned it may be an attempt to put false, unkind details about Gareth's private life into the public domain to diminish him and take attention away from the security services he worked so loyally for."

Sir Paul Lever, Former chair of Joint Intelligence Committee

"If you want to dispel a suggestion that something is work-related, you inevitably imply it's to do with the person's non-work life... ergo their private life, so you end up perhaps implying things that may distress his family. I would be very surprised if his employers were deliberately setting out to smear him."

Annie Machon, Former MI5 agent

"The trouble is that it's so murky at the moment. It could be misdirection ... towards some sort of sexual thing that went wrong. But there's also the fact that he was working on secure communications... the SIM cards and telephone laid out indicate the killer was aware of where he worked and was letting people know that."

Mark Birdsall, Editor 'Eye Spy' magazine

"The fact that he was in a holdall is a classic indication that the body was going to be moved. There's something not quite right here, but I think the story is being created to give the ordinary man in the street the opinion, 'well, he was involved in some sort of lovers' tiff'... I think the whole background about Mr Williams is being manipulated, possibly to disguise what he was up to, which is natural. You put out a cover story to disguise the real operation."

David Wilson, Professor of Criminology, University of Central England

"In the vast majority of murders you don't look for a Hollywood motive, you look for the most banal motive – the most banal motives are love, rage, and jealousy... I'm absolutely convinced with virtually every serious crime I've been involved with that there's a great deal of misinformation... when one talks to press officers of any government agency they have a line that they try to feed."

'John Smith', A former head of GCHQ

"This is first and foremost a personal tragedy. Clearly it's unwelcome that it is someone working for the intelligence services who might have been working for anyone else, and it isn't yet clear quite what the ramifications beyond that might be. People are going spare [at GCHQ/MI6] because there is a public relations crisis to handle. As a precautionary measure, they will be looking at how much this chap knew and how much he could have communicated to anyone."

Rupert Allason, Espionage author & former Tory MP

"The only security concern regarding Gareth Williams's death would be if there was evidence that classified information had been compromised. Doubtless SIS and GCHQ security staff are pursuing those lines and a search of his flat and laptop would be top of the list. In the absence of any indication that there had been a breach of security there would not appear to be any other issues, apart perhaps from one: which police officer tipped off the media to the link with Vauxhall Cross?"

Prof Anthony Glees, Director, Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, University of Birmingham

"I don't think he would have been murdered because of what he knew but because of his private life. If his private life brought him into contact with someone who went on to kill him, he was a risk-taker... If you do risky things, you may not be blackmailable but you may still be a security risk because your risk-taking may bring you into contact with people who might try to exploit this trait to get secrets out of you."

James Bamford, Author of three bestsellers on the US national security agency (NSA)

"Rather than a 'spy' in the James Bond sense of the word, he was far more likely a routine cryptanalyst. It is also very unlikely, especially given his sexual interests, that there is any foreign intelligence involvement in his death. Those things happen in the movies but rarely in real life. Nevertheless, I'm sure there is a very intense investigation, both at the NSA and GCHQ, into what accesses Williams had, his travels and his telephone, email and internet communications."

Stephen Dorril, Intelligence expert University of Huddersfield

"GCHQ has been sending people into the field in Afghanistan to monitor communications; they have small units of personnel who are doing field work instead of just being behind the desk, so they have obviously been working closely with MI6."

Nicholas Anderson, Former MI6 agent and author

"My first gut thought was that he couldn't have been a high-security risk as it took nearly two weeks for the FCO [Foreign & Commonwealth Office] employee assistance head to follow up on why he hadn't been at work. Granted, he may have had a job where he worked alone so he didn't have to report in, but most lone operators, like I used to be, report to somebody on a timely basis regardless."

Roger Graef, Broadcaster and criminologist

"The one thing we won't know is the truth. This is in the category of iconic crimes, when you don't ever expect to be told the real thing, and there are just too many reasons to keep it secret... None of it adds up: if he was such a hot shot at code breaking then presumably he'd have been protected... We are very unlikely to ever know what happened."

Prof Martin Innes, Director of the universities' police science institute at cardiff university

"If they've stuck him in a bag ready to be moved, if that was what happened, then that suggests someone a bit more intent on what it is they're trying to do... If the individual concerned is out there and dismembering the body, there's something else going on. But until we know that it's pretty difficult to say anything useful."

Michael Smith, Author of 'Six: A history of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service'

"No conversation I have had with anyone genuine within the intelligence community has given any information on this guy that would be any use in building up a picture of him other than off-the-record confirmation that he was a GCHQ employee who has been on attachment to MI6."


Sunday, August 29, 2010


By Scott Hesketh and Jonathan Corke | August 29, 2010

MURDERED spook Gareth Williams could have helped to nail Russian spy beauty Anna Chapman.

Detectives are looking into claims the MI6 code breaker was in the US when ­Chapman was uncovered in June.

And any evidence that he was ­involved in infiltrating ­Chapman’s spy ring will ­become part of the murder ­inquiry.

The bust prompted revenge calls from Russia.

However, investigators are meeting “resistance” from US and UK intelligence agencies.

Chapman, who once lived in the UK, was accused of trying to infiltrate America’s political elite and sending secrets to a handler via wi-fi on a laptop.

She was sent back to Russia last month after being arrested in the US.

Last night a high-level source told the Daily Star ­Sunday: “Mr Williams’ work in America is forming part of the inquiry.

“We need to know what he was working on during his ­visits there. MI6 and CIA code crackers played a vital part in outing Chapman and the ­Russian spy ring.

“Any evidence he did play a part will be treated as a ­possible motive for his killing.”

The insider also revealed how the discovery of Welshman ­Gareth’s mobile phone and a dozen SIM cards on his bed may have been a message from his killer.

“The way the SIM cards were found carefully placed next to the phone is of particular ­interest to detectives,” he said.

“Early indications are that it is some sort of message, ­someone saying, ‘I know who your contacts are and I’m ­coming for them’.”

Keen cyclist Gareth, 31, was found dead in his top-floor flat in ­Pimlico, west London.

His body had been stuffed into a bag and left in the bath. It was revealed last night that police referred to the crime as a “neat job”, a phrase which officers use to describe the work of a professional.

According to a source Mr ­Williams’ body was found ­during a “welfare check” by ­police following a call from one of his colleagues at GCHQ in Cheltenham.

Officers discovered a suitcase “seeping a red liquid” in his bath. Police say there was no evidence of a “sex game gone wrong”, bondage gear or gay porn in the flat, as has been claimed.

His distraught family slammed the whispers as a ­government “dirty tricks” ­campaign to blacken his name.

But we can reveal police ­visited a gay bar in London’s trendy Soho area in the wake of the grim discovery.

A source in the Admiral ­Duncan pub said: “I had a visit from a plain-clothed copper asking if we’d seen this man – and he showed me a picture of the lad on his bike.

“I asked him what it was about but he didn’t say much, just that he’d been found dead and they were investigating.”

Guardian : Bondage claims over dead MI6 officer untrue, say police

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bondage claims over dead MI6 officer untrue, say police

Officers who found body of Gareth Williams say it was 'a neat job', leading to speculation that it was a professional hit

by Helen Carter and Richard Norton-Taylor | August 29, 2010

Further questions have been raised over the death of an MI6 officer after police confirmed that reports of bondage equipment found at his flat and a "ritualistic" arrangement of his possessions were untrue.

The body of Gareth Williams was found stuffed in a bag in the bath of an MI6 safehouse in Pimlico, south London, a week ago. Reports have said there was evidence of a break-in, and that sim cards containing the numbers of gay escorts were found at the flat, but police who found the body told Channel 4 News it was "a neat job", leading to speculation that Williams was killed in a professional hit.

The police and security services seem to disagree over precisely what led to Williams' death, with Whitehall sources maintaining that his death was "more to do with his private life than his job".

Claims that 31-year-old Williams was secretly gay appear to be wrong, according to the original police dispatch seen by Channel 4. His family claim Williams has been the victim of a smear campaign to deflect attention from his work within the intelligence service. He is thought to have played a role in gathering intelligence as a code-cracker or cipher, and was seconded to MI6 from GCHQ.

Contrary to some reports, three mobile phone sim cards found in the flat were not arranged in a "ritualistic" manner, a Metropolitan police spokesman told the Guardian.

The police confirmed that Williams was last seen on 15 August, eight days before his body was found. Initial reports said he had not been seen for a fortnight. His body was discovered when police were called to check on him after a GCHQ colleague voiced concerns. Police found no mess and no sign of a struggle.

Williams's uncle, William Hughes, said it was possible the government or another agency might be attempting to discredit his nephew by orchestrating a smear campaign. He said Williams's parents, who live on Anglesey, were "very, very angry" about false reports over his private life. He said his nephew's reputation was being destroyed by the "horrible and completely fictitious accounts".

Last week a pathologist was unable to establish a cause of death. Toxicology tests will determine if he was poisoned, or if drugs or alcohol were a factor.

There have been claims that Williams was killed by someone he knew, after reports that thousands of pounds were paid into and withdrawn from his bank account in the days leading up to his death. Police said such reports were "pure speculation".

Williams is known to have been a private man, a mathematical prodigy who studied at Bangor University for a degree at 13, emerging with first-class honours. He later attended St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he failed to complete his studies and returned to GCHQ, where he joined a contingent of keen cyclists.

Williams regularly travelled to the United States, where it is understood that he worked at the National Security Agency at Fort Meade in Maryland, the US government's listening post and the largest intelligence agency in the world.

He was sent to MI6's station in Kabul where he is thought to have helped in breaking codes used by the Taliban. Last year he moved on secondment to MI6. He was due to return to GCHQ at the start of next month.


Sunday, August 29, 2010


By James Fielding and Jane Clinton | August 29, 2010

MI6 and MI5 have joined forces for the first time since the Cold War to solve code breaker Gareth Williams’ murder.

Security chiefs have taken the highly unusual step amid fears Mr Williams was killed by a foreign agent.

Spooks from both intelligence services are shocked that one of their own was killed in their own backyard.

Meanwhile, there was fury in the US last night after FBI attempts to quiz Mr Williams’ best friend, a 25-year-old British woman working for British security in Colorado – were blocked by UK officials.

In a covert operation separate to the official police investigation, MI6 and MI5 agents are now trawling a list of more than 150 suspected “enemy spies” hiding in Britain.

They are tracing their movements over the past fortnight and are compiling a detailed dossier on each one.

The last co-operation between the two agencies was in the Fifties when five Cambridge University-educated spies, including Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, were found to have passed on information to the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

Agents probing Mr Williams’ death are working on the theory he was killed in a professional hit.

The Sunday Express can reveal the 31-year-old had been devising a firewall to protect British banks from computer hackers. He was based at the Government’s GCHQ ‘listening post’ in Cheltenham, where he had a flat, but was on a year’s secondment to MI6. The job often took him to the National Security Agency in Washington DC, the Pentagon’s GCHQ.

Mr Williams’ body was found on Monday in a sports holdall, which had been left in the bath at his rented £400,000 apartment in Pimlico, central London.

A post-mortem examination was inconclusive but sources close to the police investigation say he was not stabbed, shot, strangled or beaten, leaving suffocation or poisoning as the probable causes.

A source told the Sunday Express: “Mr Williams’ death sent shock-waves shuddering through both MI5 and MI6. The security service is in meltdown.

“The focus is increasingly being centred on his role for the security service and whether a foreign agent is to blame.”

Mr Williams last visited the US earlier this year and American spy chiefs fear that secret US information may have been leaked.

The source added: “The Americans want to know exactly what Mr Williams was doing in the States and whether he let slip any vital information before he died. Not being able to speak to his friends will have made things even worse.”

According to reports, Mr Williams, originally from Anglesey, North Wales, drew £6,000 from his bank account in the days before his death, which could mean he was the target of blackmail.

Channel 4 : Exclusive: 'neat job' on MI6 spy's death

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Exclusive: 'neat job' on MI6 spy's death

By Channel 4 News | August 28, 2010

Channel 4 News learns the police who found the body of MI6 codebreaker Gareth Williams described his death as a "neat job" - understood to be code for a professional killing.

The evidence obtained by Channel 4 News from the day the MI6 employee was found dead in his central London flat suggests that reports that he was secretly gay or owed bondage equipment are untrue.

The evidence also suggests his mobile phone sim cards were not arranged in a "ritualistic" way and there were no numbers for male escort agencies on them.

This, Channel 4 News understands, is what the police know about the death of the MI6 code breaker, contrary to the speculation which has been in other reports which is apparently based on MI6 briefings.

Channel 4 News reporter James Blake said none of the sexual links or mobile phone details were mentioned in the official police despatch for that day, the CAD.

He also said: "Officers did not touch the body so they were not sure, but one said the apparent murder was a 'neat job', a phrase used by police for a professional killing."

After the police left, the building was locked down and MI5 and MI6 officials rushed to the scene.

The family of code breaker Gareth Williams broke their silence to say they have found speculation over whether his sex life could be linked to his death "very distressing".

Police are still working to establish the cause of Mr Williams' death. They confirmed that he was last seen eight days before his corpse was discovered stuffed into a bag in his flat. His body was discovered on Monday after the police went to do a "welfare check" on him, after a GCHQ colleague sounded the alarm when he was not seen at work.

MI6 and GCHQ inquire into vetting of dead spy

Channel 4 News understands that the government's most secretive intelligence agencies have launched internal enquiries into the vetting of an MI6 employee found dead in his flat.

"There is nothing to suggest a security leak," a source told Channel 4 News. "This is most likely the human tragedy of a private young man who may have had issues."

GCHQ conducts what it called "rigorous security clearance" for potential employees to ascertain whether there is the "the risk of an individual being placed in a potentially compromising position."

The CIA has also been investigating any possible security breach, but British authorities believed that Mr Williams' killer probably did not know about his work.

In a statement, Mr Williams' family said: "Gareth was a generous, loving son, brother, and friend, and he was a very private person.

"He was a great athlete, and loved cycling and music. His loss has devastated us and we would ask that anyone with information to come forward and assist the police enquiry.

"The continued speculation in the press about his private life has been very distressing."

Channel 4 News reporter James Blake said that the evidence he has obtained suggest that the reports are untrue.

When the police entered the flat, he said: "There was no mess, no evidence of a struggle, and, importantly, no overwhelming smell of a body decomposing. When they entered the bathroom, officers described finding a suitcase with red liquid seeping out."

Police confirmed that Mr Williams was last seen alive on 15 August, although they would not discuss whether he was seen on CCTV or via another source.

The investigation is being led by the Met's Homicide Command, with the security-vetted Counter Terror Command also involved.

No national security risk

At this stage, all parties are suggesting that Mr Williams' killer is unlikely to have been aware of his job and his death presents no threat to national security.

Channel 4 News has learned that both MI6 and GCHQ have launched internal inquiries into the vetting of Mr Williams.

Mr Williams was a GCHQ employee on secondment to MI6.

"There is nothing to suggest a security leak," a source told Channel 4 News. "This is most likely the human tragedy of a private young man who may have had issues."

Relative William Hughes, 62, a councillor on Anglesey, insisted there was no evidence the allegations over Mr Williams' private life are correct.

Mr Hughes, a cousin of Mr Williams' mother, Ellen, said: "I have spoken to Gareth's parents and they are not doing well at all.

"They are in a state of shock and struggling to come to terms with what has happened.

"They have seen what has been in the papers and they are very, very upset about these untruths. I don't see any evidence of it.

"It never crossed my mind that Gareth was that sort of person. He left home at a young age and what happened in his private life was his business.

"When you have these rumours in the papers, it is most distressing.

"It is heartbreaking that he has died so young and his family have enough on their plate without having to read these stories."

Mr Hughes said it was possible the government, or another agency, might be attempting to discredit Mr Williams.

Earlier this week a pathologist found Mr Williams was not stabbed or shot, and police are still working to find out how he died. Their investigations have included looking into Mr Williams' private life in an attempt to account for his death.

"Every nation spies on everyone else"

A former intelligence officer from America has told Channel 4 News that spying goes on "every day, 24 hours a day."

Bob Ayres said: "As long as people use codes to protect their communications, there will still be people working to break them.

"Codes now are based on sophisticated cryptographic systems. Spies are used to create and produce cryptographic systems that other people can’t break, and to break the systems used by other countries. These systems are based on sophisticated mathematics, so that is the ideal background.

"Intelligence, spying, these are jobs and business that go on every day, 24 hours a day. Every nation spies on everyone else and everybody spies on them. There is nothing romantic or intriguing about it. It is just a business. In terms of men in raincoats standing under bridges, that is a very small percentage of what actually goes on in the intelligence business."

Wall Street Journal : U.K. Spy's Death Remains Cloaked in Mystery

Sunday, August 29, 2010

U.K. Spy's Death Remains Cloaked in Mystery

Police Puzzle Over Math Expert's 'Suspicious and Unexpected' Demise; Case Lacks Bond-Like Intrigue of Earlier Sagas


LONDON — When the news broke early this week that a man working for U.K. intelligence services had been found dead, his body discovered in a large duffel bag in the bathtub of his London flat, the British public sensed the start of a new chapter in the country's long history of national-security scandal and intrigue.

But as the land of James Bond fixates on what could have led to 30-year-old Gareth Williams turning up dead in London's posh Pimlico neighborhood, the saga so far hasn't lived up to the secret-scheme legacy left on British soil by the likes of Alexander Litvinenko, Anna Chapman and others, dead or alive, in the intelligence trade.

Police here have yet to determine that Mr. Williams's death had anything to do with his job at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a unit of the U.K. intelligence services that intercepts terrorist communications and protects British government data from cyberattacks.

Nor have the authorities declared that Mr. Williams's death was the result of a murder. Police continue to classify the incident as a "suspicious and unexplained death," after a postmortem examination on Wednesday failed to determine the cause of death.

No indications of the cause of death—such as stabbing or gunshot wounds—were apparent at the scene, and there was no clear sign of a break-in, a person familiar with the matter said. The person said Mr. Williams's body may have been in the bathtub for more than a week before the authorities, following up on reports that Mr. Williams hadn't been seen for days, entered the flat to find him dead Monday afternoon. Police say the investigation is continuing.

Meanwhile, a portrait of Mr. Williams is emerging, and it is somewhat different from the sexy, cloak-and-dagger narrative associated with people who wind up being swept up in so-called spy sagas. In the 1960s, U.K. defense minister John Profumo admitted to having an affair with a model who was also the mistress of a Russian spy. In 2006, Litvinenko, a former KGB agent, died in London after being poisoned with radioactive material. This summer, a onetime Londoner, red-haired Anna Chapman, was one of 10 agents involved in a much-publicized spy swap with the U.S.

Mr. Williams was discovered earlier in the week.

Mr. Williams comes from a more obscure part of the intelligence world that is more high-tech than high-gloss. A mathematics expert, he grew up on the island of Anglesey in northern Wales and began attending university at the age of 15 in the nearby city of Bangor to study math, his mother's cousin, William Hughes, said Friday.

Later, Mr. Williams did graduate work in math at the University of Cambridge, and then spent about 10 years working at GCHQ's headquarters 100 miles west of London in Cheltenham, England, said his landlady there, Jennifer Elliott.

Ms. Elliott said he had been in London for work for about a year but was due to return to the house on her property in Cheltenham early next month. He never spoke about his job, Mr. Hughes said, noting that the family was devastated to find out that their son—an avid cyclist—had died in such mysterious circumstances.

GCHQ confirmed that Mr. Williams was an employee and said he was working in London, though a spokesman for the agency wouldn't comment on his role there. A 5,500-strong agency filled with numerical experts like Mr. Williams, GCHQ works closely with the U.K. Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, which is based in London across the river from Mr. Williams's apartment. The British press has widely reported that Mr. Williams was working at MI6 on a short-term project, but a GCHQ spokesman would neither confirm nor deny that placement.

The police haven't made any leads on the case public. "We have no inkling of what happened," said Mr. Hughes. "Nothing at all so far."