Telegraph : Murdered spy 'could have climbed into sports bag' before death

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Murdered spy 'could have climbed into sports bag' before death

The spy whose naked body was found in a sports bag in an empty bath in Pimlico could have been alive when he was put into the bag, police believe.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent | September 12, 2010

Detectives believe that someone else padlocked Gareth Williams into the red North Face holdall where his body was found on August 23.

They remain open to the possibility that Mr Williams climbed into the bag as part of a sex game and then suffocated. His body was found in the flat eight days after he was last seen alive.

Another option is that he was poisoned before his body was put into the bag. Tests have ruled out alcohol or recreational drugs.

Officers are waiting for further toxicology tests at the end of the week which may end the mystery of how Mr Williams died.

Mr Williams, 31, a keen cyclist and maths prodigy from Anglesey, North Wales, was found dead in the MI6 flat in central London where he lived while he was on secondment from GCHQ, working on interception techniques and code-breaking.

The death has puzzled Scotland Yard detectives and Home Office pathologists who have yet to come up with a definite cause of death.

The body was badly decomposed making it difficult to be certain whether there was a lack of oxygen to the brain or heart failure.

There are no marks on the body, making strangulation unlikely, but asphyxiation remains a possibility.

Strangulation has become increasingly common as a sex game, but officers say they have never come across a case like this linked to sex.

Mr Williams’s family have been upset at suggestions that he was gay and at erroneous reports that bondage equipment was found in the flat.

One source close to the inquiry told The Daily Telegraph: “If you are looking at how he died, asphyxiation could be one of the answers.

“We are looking at whether he could have been in the bag alive. The majority of people wouldn’t have thought that was likely but nothing is impossible.

“It is unlikely that his clothes were removed after he died so we have to assume that he was naked when he died.”

Officers believe that someone else was involved in the death – even if it does not amount to murder – although there was no sign of forced entry at the flat.

“You would never say that he did this to himself. How would you do it?” the source said. “We have looked at whether it is possible to lock the bag from the inside and it just does not seem possible. “

Detectives are keen to talk to a Mediterranean couple aged between 20 and 30, seen at the spy’s flat in Alderney Street, Pimlico, central London, late one evening in June or July.

“They haven’t come forward and we have to ask ourselves why that would be,” the source said.

There were reports yesterday that Mr Williams had met a similar couple at the Patisserie Valerie in Holland Park, west London on a number of occasions.

Officers are still looking at fast-acting poisons such as strychnine and arsenic but have ruled out slower acting substances such as thallium or the radioactive Polonium 210 that killed the former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, because CCTV images a few days before Mr Williams died showed he was in good health.

The state of decomposition of the body suggests that Mr Williams died shortly after he was last seen in Holland Park on August 14 and shopping in Harrods in Knightsbridge on August 15.

ITN : Spy death 'may have been professional hit'

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spy death 'may have been professional hit'

September 12, 2010

It has been reported that the intelligence services are investigating possible foreign involvement in the death of spy Gareth Williams.

The 31-year-old worked for the intelligence services at GCHQ and was on secondment to MI6 when he was found dead.

Police found his decomposing body zipped up in a sports bag.

Now concern is said to be growing within the intelligence community that he may have been the victim of a professional hit by a foreign power.

MI6, MI5 and GCHQ - are reported to be working closely to try and establish whether or not Williams was targeted.

Metro : Dead MI6 worker 'may have climbed into bag by himself'

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dead MI6 worker 'may have climbed into bag by himself'

September 12, 2010

An MI6 worker found dead inside a sports bag may have suffocated after climbing into the holdall by himself, it has been suggested.

The body of Gareth Williams was discovered in his flat in London last month, sparking a major police investigation and a flurry of rumours about how he died.

It is thought police are working on the theory he may have been the victim of a random murder, but the difficulty in collecting evidence means they are also considering other possibilities.

According to the Mail on Sunday, officers are now looking at the idea that the 31-year-old died after a sex game went wrong.

They believe he may have climbed into the sports bag himself as part of an erotic asphyxiation ritual and then been unable to get out.

Although the bag, which was found in Mr Williams' bath, was locked, the key for the padlock was discovered inside the holdall.

A female member of the police team investigating his death has apparently managed to recreate the scenario, by climbing into an identical bag, zipping it up and then padlocking it from the inside.

The claim is the latest in a series of bizarre reports about the codebreaker's death and private life. Some of the lurid rumours even prompted his family to suggest that Mr Williams may be the victim of a smear campaign.

His family are so unhappy with the lack of progress in the investigation and the failure of two post-mortems to identify a cause of death, that they are reported to have requested the release of his body so they can commission their own tests.

ninemsn (Au) : MI6 spy may have died in sex game gone wrong

Sunday, September 12, 2010

MI6 spy may have died in sex game gone wrong

By ninemsn staff | September 12, 2010

Police investigating the bizarre death of British spy Gareth Williams believe he may have died during a sex game gone wrong.

In a police re-enactment, a female officer climbed into the bag where Williams' naked body was found, the Mail on Sunday newspaper reports.

The officer managed to zip up the bag and padlock it from inside, leading to speculation Williams had done the same thing and suffocated when he could not unlock himself.

Fuelling the theory is the fact police found a key to the padlock inside the bag alongside Williams’ body.

Williams, 31, worked for the secret intelligence service MI6 and his naked remains were found in the bag in his bathtub in his London flat on August 23.

There was no evidence of violence or cuts on his body, suggesting a struggle had not taken place, and there were no signs of forced entry at his Pimlico flat.

He was working with MI6 on secondment from GCHQ, which monitors communications for intelligence purposes and is based in Cheltenham, west England.

A spokesman from Scotland Yard declined to comment on the report, but said they were keeping an open mind about the case.


Sunday, September 12, 2010


By James Murray | September 12,2010

A LEADING US pathologist may fly in this week to try to unravel the mystery behind the bizarre death of spy Gareth Williams.

A post mortem examination in London last month failed to find a cause of death of the super-fit 31-year-old code breaker who was on secondment to MI6 from the GCHQ listening post in Cheltenham.

Now baffled Scotland Yard detectives hope to bring in a medical examiner from the US who has been trained in CIA and FBI techniques to look for sophisticated methods of assassinations using hard-to-detect substances.

The decision to call for help from America is a sign of the Yard’s ­frustration.

The grieving family of bachelor Mr Williams have called for his body to be released so they can get a second post mortem examination conducted by their own pathologist. They may now hold back on that demand until they hear the findings of the US expert.

Extensive forensic tests at the flat in Alderney Street and from the samples taken at the post mortem examination are still going on.

The Yard says initial indications from the toxicology examinations show no trace of any alcohol or ­routine or recreational drugs. Testing for other substance continues.

Other lines of inquiry are proving equally unproductive.

Detectives had hoped to trace a man and woman of Mediterranean appearance seen entering the apartment block in Pimlico, London, where Mr Williams lived one night in June or July but all their inquiries so far have drawn a blank.

A source said: “It is proving to be a very complex inquiry. Some ­people are calling these people the ghost couple because they seem to have slipped into the area by ­managing to avoid being captured on CCTV.

“The longer it goes on without them being traced or coming ­forward, the more suspicion they are arousing.”

Last week the Sunday Express reported claims that Mr Williams had told his bosses he believed he was being followed by two men. On Monday police discounted this idea then admitted they wanted to trace the mystery couple.

Detectives last week released CCTV footage of Mr Williams entering Holland Park Tube station on Saturday, August 14, at 3pm.

The next day CCTV images showed him shopping in Brompton Road, south-west London. He went to a cash machine then into Harrods and was seen alone in Hans Crescent heading for Sloane Street.

He was wearing the same clothing on both days, a red T-shirt, beige trousers and white trainers, suggesting he may have spent the night somewhere other than his home.

When he failed to turn up for work at MI6, just a short walk from his home, uniformed police went to his top-floor flat on August 23.

They found his naked body in a zipped and padlocked red North Face holdall in an empty bath in the en-suite bathroom. There was no sign of a forced entry or any ­disturbance inside the flat.

Detectives are trying to establish whether it was possible for him to have got into the holdall himself then locked himself inside but they consider that unlikely.

It is understood Mr Williams was asexual and had no interest in ­unusual sexual practices. There was no indication he intended to take his own life.

Detective Chief Inspector ­Jacqueline Sebire of Homicide and Serious Crime Command, who is leading the investigation, said: “This remains a complex and unexplained death inquiry.

“I would appeal to anyone who may have seen, or had contact with Gareth in the period between August 11 and 23 to come forward and speak with us at the Incident Room on 0208 358 0200, or to remain anonymous by calling Crime­stoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Daily Mail : Detectives believes dead MI6 spy may have zipped HIMSELF in bag in bizarre sex game that went wrong

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Detectives believes dead MI6 spy may have zipped HIMSELF in bag in bizarre sex game that went wrong

By Simon Walters and Glen Owen | September 12, 2010

* WPC climbed into bag to show how he may have died

Police believe the MI6 spy found dead in a sports bag in a bath inside his flat may have died after a bizarre sex game went wrong, according to well-placed sources.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that a woman police officer climbed into the holdall in which codebreaker Gareth Williams’ naked body was found, re-enacting the events which it is thought could have led to his death.

She managed to zip up the bag and padlock it from the inside, leading investigators to conclude that Mr Williams may have done the same for sexual kicks and suffocated when he could not reopen it.

The theory was bolstered by the fact that a key to the padlock was found alongside his body inside the £150 bag.

Despite being crouched in the holdall, the police officer was able to squeeze her hand through a small gap between the padlock and the zip fastener and lock it from the inside.

Police believe Mr Williams may have gone through the same extraordinary routine, and then passed out, possibly as a result of panic when he was unable to reopen the padlock.

The identity of the officer who undertook the unusual police assignment is not known.

She was chosen partly because her petite size is similar to the slim and short frame of 31-year-old keep-fit fanatic Mr Williams.

His body was found in an extra-large North Face bag, a type which is favoured by explorers because of its 140 litres of storage capacity, durable material, double stitching, twin haul handles and locking zips.

Erotic asphyxiation is defined as the intentional restriction of oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal.

The practice claimed the life of Tory MP Stephen Milligan, whose body was found in 1994 with a bag over his head and an orange in his mouth.

Figures have not been recorded for the number of auto-erotic fatal­ities (AEFs) in America, although it is estimated between 500 and 1,000 occur in the US every year.

Although most AEFs arise from the use of a noose to restrict the supply of oxygen, deaths have occurred after victims put themselves into bags.

In one example, a Yale University student died after zipping himself into an airtight vinyl bag and binding his hands.

Police have been mystified since cycling enthusiast Mr Williams was found dead inside his £400,000 two-bedroom flat in Pimlico, half-a-mile from the MI6 HQ in Westminster, three weeks ago.

The initial reaction of the police constable who discovered his body was: ‘This is a murder scene.’

There were also rumours that Mr Williams was the victim of a professional ‘hit’. Other theories included the suggestion that he had been murdered by Russian agents.

Tests on his body were ordered to establish whether he was poisoned, as happened when Polonium 210 radiation was used to murder exiled Russian secret agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Initial toxicology tests showed no traces of alcohol or rec­reational drugs in Mr Williams’ system.

Police sources say that the results of more sophisticated tests, carried out to establish the cause of death, might not be known for up to a fortnight.

The MI6 agent’s family have angrily accused the Government of running a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign to blacken his name after reports that he was gay and a cross-dresser.

Police denied claims that gay magazines, bondage gear and the phone numbers of gay escort men were found in the apartment near his body.

Police also dismissed allegations of irregularities in his finances and that a top-secret laptop computer had gone missing from his flat.

Crucially, there was no evidence of violence and no cuts or bruises on Mr Williams’ body, suggesting there had been no struggle.

Nor was there any sign of forced entry to his flat, suggesting he either knew his killer and let them in – or there was no killer.

Mr Williams, from Anglesey, North Wales, worked as a cipher and codes expert for the Government’s eavesdropping centre GCHQ in Cheltenham.

He was on a year-long secondment to MI6 which was due to end days after he was found dead.

A child prodigy who had a degree in maths at 17 and went on to obtain a PhD, Mr Williams had the highest security clearance available to an intelligence officer and was part of a secretive ‘cell’ that created devices that can steal data from mobiles and laptops.

He carried out similar work on frequent visits to the National Security Agency in the US.

Mr Williams, who lived on his own and did not have a partner, returned from a ‘planned holiday’ in the US on Wednesday, August 11.

Using his mobile phone to track his last whereabouts, police trawling through CCTV discovered that Mr Williams had made several shopping trips to London’s West End and Knightsbridge on August 14 and 15.

After visiting Harrods, he walked towards a nearby Dolce & Gabbana store, though he did not go in. It is the last time he was seen alive.

Last night a Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘It would be inappropriate to comment at this stage of the investigation. We are keeping an open mind about the case.’

Daily Mail : Mystery of meetings with couple in a cafe five miles from home

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mystery of meetings with couple in a cafe five miles from home [scroll down]

By ABUL TAHER and IAN GALLAGHER | September 12, 2010

Gareth Williams had a series of mysterious meetings at a cafe in the weeks leading up to his death.

Witnesses said the MI6 codebreaker’s late-morning encounters at Patisserie Valerie in Holland Park, West London, took place twice a week and never lasted longer than a few minutes.

Mr Williams, who lived five miles away in Pimlico, usually met a man and a dark-haired woman in their early 30s, although the man occasionally turned up alone.

Polish waitress Magdalena Kolakowska, 24, recalled that Mr Williams would sit at the back of the dimly lit cafe ‘so he could keep an eye on the door’.

Ordering an Americano coffee, he then ‘waited for the couple to approach his table and speak to him’. Miss Kolakowska added: ‘They would come up to him as if they had suddenly just seen him and say, “Hi.” They would speak to him for two or three minutes and go. They would never sit down or have a coffee with him.’

In all, she recalls about eight such encounters. She could not remember any items passing between them and heard nothing of their conversations because all three spoke in low voices.

But it was the brevity of the meetings – coupled with their regularity – that struck staff as odd. They assumed that Mr Williams, who was dressed casually, was local.

Last week, police announced they were seeking a man and a woman, both of Mediterranean appearance, who called at Mr Williams’ home late one evening in June or July.

Although the man and woman at the cafe are roughly the same age as the couple being sought by police, staff say they did not look Mediterranean.

Patisserie Valerie is next to Holland Park Underground station, where Mr Williams was caught on CCTV on August 14, some 24 hours before he was last seen alive.

Inquiries by this newspaper have established that he visited Holland Park up to four times a week in the two months before his death.

Besides Patisserie Valerie, he went to other cafes and was seen at a nearby Hilton Hotel. He invariably arrived on his bicycle and was always seen between 10am and 1pm.

Holland Park is primarily an upmarket residential district, although a number of countries, including Russia and Uzbekistan, maintain embassies there.

Another Polish waitress at Patisserie Valerie, 29-year-old Susana Ribeiro, also recalled seeing Mr Williams there – the last occasion just after he had returned from a holiday in the US on August 11.

‘If he wasn’t sitting inside at the back, he would park his bike at the lamp-post, sit at the middle table outside and have a coffee,’ she said.

Miss Kolakowska added: ‘Some days he would bring a device with him that looked like an Apple iPad, but was much bigger, and he would watch news or some moving picture on it.’

Vanessa Riley, a pensioner in her 60s who lives in a flat behind Holland Park station, said she saw Mr Williams in two other cafes near the station over the summer.

Mrs Riley became so concerned after she heard of his death she reported what she saw to police. ‘All I can say is I saw him meeting people at these cafes,’ she said.

Last night police refused to be drawn on the significance of the sightings.

Detectives have already tracked Mr Williams’ movements to Holland Park, apparently by checking his journeys on his Oyster ticket, the plastic travel card commuters use on the Underground.

They took away CCTV footage from 29 different cameras at Holland Park station and have since released footage of Mr Williams arriving at the station on August 14 and, the following day, shopping in Harrods.

There were reports yesterday that Mr Williams’ family, upset at the slow progress of the police investigation into his death, want to commission their own post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, security sources said that Mr Williams was recruited by GCHQ after it became aware of his ‘extraordinary prowess at computer games’.

‘He was achieving rare high scores on these espionage and war games that are played on the internet,’ said a source. ‘I know it sounds daft, but this is how he was discovered.’

Two years ago, GCHQ ran an advertising campaign in online games, including Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent, to tempt web-savvy graduates to become spies.