Daily Post : MI6 spy death probe continues

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

MI6 spy death probe continues

by Dan Beavan, DPW West | August 24, 2011

POLICE are still investigating the death of MI6 spy Gareth Williams – a year after his body was found locked in a sports bag in his flat.

Codebreaker Mr Williams, 31, from Valley, Anglesey, was discovered at his central London flat 12 months ago.

Mystery still surrounds the death with detectives saying his private life remains the main focus of the investigation, which they say is active.

Twelve months on Mr Williams' death remains suspicious and unexplained.

A date for his inquest has still not been set although sources say it will take place before Christmas and last several weeks.

Former Ysgol Uwchradd Bodedern pupil Mr Williams was a gifted mathematician who attained a first class degree in maths aged just 17.

He began work at the Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham before being seconded to MI6 for a year.

BBC : Gareth Williams MI6 death: Inquiry is active, say Met

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gareth Williams MI6 death: Inquiry is active, say Met
[and here]

August 23, 2011

Metropolitan Police say they are still investigating the death of MI6 officer Gareth Williams, a year after his body was found locked in a bag in his bath.

Mr Williams, 31, originally from Holyhead, Anglesey, was discovered at his central London flat a year ago.

Mystery still surrounds the death, and detectives have said that the key lay in his private life.

A police spokesman said the inquiry into the code-breaker's death was "still an active investigation".

The Westminster coroner's office said: "No date has yet been arranged for the inquest into his death."

A spokesman added: "The coroner is still awaiting the completion of the necessary paperwork".

Gifted mathematician

Mr Williams, a gifted mathematician who was a pupil at Bodedern secondary school, graduated with a first class degree in maths at just 17.

His parents, Ian and Ellen, live in Valley, Anglesey, while his father works at Wylfa nuclear power station. His grandmother and grandfather lived in Holyhead.

Mr Williams began work at the Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham before being seconded to MI6.

His disappearance last August was reported by colleagues who said they had not seen him for some time.

When officers broke into his flat they found Mr Williams' body in a sports bag, as well as his mobile phone and several SIM cards.

The authorities played down any speculation that his death was linked to his line of work at MI6.

A post-mortem examination was unable to provide a cause of death and further tests are to take place.

A couple sought in connection with the death of an MI6 officer may never be traced, police have conceded.

Gareth Williams, 31, from Holyhead on Anglesey, north Wales, was found dead in a padlocked holdall in his central London flat in August.

The death remains suspicious and unexplained with no cause found.

Police have released e-fit images of a couple of Mediterranean appearance seen at his flats before he died, but the coroner has been told they would be unlikely to be traced.

Twelve months on Mr Williams' death remains suspicious and unexplained with no cause found.

After his body was found police revealed Mr Williams had £15,000 of designer women's clothes in his flat. Press speculation centred on him dying during what some newspapers called a "bizarre sex game gone wrong".

But last April Mr Williams' close friend Sian Lloyd-Jones urged police to broaden their inquiry, denying speculation he was gay or a cross-dresser.

Wales Online : Government’s response to Welsh spy’s mysterious death a ‘disgrace’

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Government’s response to Welsh spy’s mysterious death a ‘disgrace’

by Darren Devine, Wales On Sunday | August 21, 2011

A SECURITY expert has slammed the Government’s “disgraceful” response to the death of a Welsh spy whose body was found in a holdall one year ago.

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the discovery of the naked body of GCHQ code breaker and MI6 agent Gareth Williams in his Pimlico flat. He had been padlocked inside a red North Face holdall, in an empty bath.

The case continues to baffle the Met Police and has left his Anglesey family facing a torrent of salacious tabloid headlines and an agonising 12-month wait for answers.

But Security services expert Professor Anthony Glees is among those who believe Williams’ reported fondness for gay clubs, bondage websites and women’s clothing is just a smokescreen.

He believes the spy was killed by a foreign security service and says the failure of British officials to answer questions about the agent’s demise is a “disgrace”.

Professor Glees, head of the Buckingham University Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, said: “It’s disgraceful both with Gareth Williams’ family in mind, who must be feeling absolutely terrible, but also with my own concern, which is with our national security.

“And I’m very surprised we’ve not heard from Sir Malcolm Rifkind, for example, the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, because I think there’s a very serious national security issue here. In fact there are several very serious national security issues here.”

Professor Glees said his contacts, who have been advising the Metropolitan Police over the death, maintain there’s no longer any suggestion it is sex-related.

He added: “I would continue to suggest that if Gareth was not killed as a result of a sex crime or sex game gone wrong – and nobody has presented any serious evidence of this – then this must be the work of a hostile intelligence service.

“What I would add, and this comes from my Whitehall sources, is that there’s been an almost 50% increase in hostile intelligence activity, not only by Russia, but also by China in the last 12 months.”

Reports have suggested cars registered to the Russian Embassy were spotted near Williams’ flat just days before his body was discovered on August 23.

Professor Glees said Williams was a mid-ranking operative whose work on developing computer programmes to infiltrate the networks of countries like Iran, China and Russia would have made him a target. Reports last year also claimed Williams’ eavesdropping work had helped thwart co-ordinated al-Qaeda gun rampages on the streets of London, Paris and Berlin just weeks before his death.

He had also made several trips to Afghanistan as one of a 10-strong team of specialists from GCHQ, the Government’s listening post and the NSA, the US equivalent.

But whatever the significance of his security services role, Professor Glees said while many questions continue to go unanswered about his death Williams’ family are denied closure.

“There are so many question marks hanging over this man. Was he loyal, was he disloyal? Was he gay? Had he given the right information about himself to GCHQ and MI6?”

But not all security experts are convinced there’s more to the death than meets the eye.

Some like Paul Moorcraft, director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis, believe the answers lie in Williams’ sex life. One theory he strongly discounts is that Williams was murdered by British intelligence colleagues for leaking information to our enemies.

“Whenever you get a mysterious death you get all sorts of conspiracies,” he said.

“Looking back at it I would have thought it probably was a sexual incident that went wrong – either with somebody else or on his own.

“He’d been on a couple of trips overseas so he wasn’t just a computer geek. But he was pretty junior and there was no reason to knock him off.”

Moorcraft said other operatives have even made revelations about the work of GCHQ without paying with their lives.

Katharine Gun, a former translator for GCHQ, was accused of leaking a memo to a newspaper on an alleged American “dirty tricks” campaign to spy on UN delegates ahead of the Iraq war.

An attempt to prosecute her through the courts collapsed.

Professor Moorcraft added: “There’s been a whole series of whistleblowers at GCHQ and nothing has happened to them. With previous whistleblowers who have actually done things it’s been formal procedures so why should they knock-off this one fairly low-ranking guy?”

Gareth’s uncle, Anglesey councillor William Hughes, declined to comment and said Gareth’s parents Ian and Ellen wanted to be “left alone”.

Express : Inquest on naked spy to go ahead

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Inquest on naked spy to go ahead

By James Murray | August 21, 2011

THE inquest into the bizarre death of spy Gareth Williams will go ahead before Christmas without a jury and is set to last a few weeks, the Sunday Express has learned.

The 31-year-old codebreaker was found naked inside a padlocked bag in the bath of his London flat a year ago.

He was working for foreign security service M16 in London while on secondment from the Government GCHQ listening post in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

It quickly emerged bachelor Mr Williams may have led a double life as he had £15,000 of expensive women’s clothing in his wardrobe and he had visited a drag cabaret show shortly before his death.

Reports that more than 40 intelligence chiefs would be called to give evidence have been played down and it is expected 12 spy chiefs will attend to explain the background to the case. They may ask the coroner to hear some of the evidence in secret.

So far the security services have given very little information about Mr Williams or his role.

Scotland Yard has dismissed as “rubbish” suggestions of any Russian involvement.

Daily Mail : Russian Embassy car spotted near 'body in bag' spy's home days before he was murdered

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Russian Embassy car spotted near 'body in bag' spy's home days before he was murdered

By Robert Verkaik | August 13, 2011

Cars registered to the Russian Embassy were spotted near the home of a British spy just days before his body was discovered in a locked holdall at his London flat.

The unexplained presence of Russian diplomats in the area will add to suspicions that the MI6 officer was killed because of his work.

Gareth Williams is believed to have been working on spy technology tracking the movements of Russian money into Europe.

The 31-year-old was last seen alive on August 15 last year – the same day a Kremlin car was identified near the officer’s Pimlico flat.

In the days before Mr Williams’s death, two cars with Russian diplomatic number plates were seen parked or driving close to his flat in Pimlico, Central London.

The vehicles’ details were logged by a former KGB agent who fled to London 12 years ago after defecting to the West and who lives near Mr Williams’s former home.

The 51-year-old, trained in surveillance and counter-surveillance, believes that the sudden appearance of the cars raises immediate suspicions.

He said: ‘I still have to worry about my own security, so when I saw these cars I was very concerned and at the time made a detailed note of each of the sightings. I hadn’t seen any Russian Embassy cars in the area before this and I haven’t seen any since.’

The former agent, who has just realised how important his sightings are after reading about the case, observed the vehicles on his daily walk to local shops which took him past the flat.

On August 15 the agent logged a dark blue BMW 3 Series bearing the diplomatic number plate 251D198 seen being driven slowly along a road 50 yards from the flat. Mr Williams’s naked body was finally discovered eight days later locked inside a large holdall in the bath at his top-floor flat.

CCTV images show him entering Holland Park Underground station at 3pm on August 14, three days after he returned from a holiday in the US, and he was spotted shopping in the West End and Knightsbridge.

Earlier, around midday on August 12, the Russian car had been logged by the former agent, parked close to the junction with the road where Mr Williams lived, with the driver inside and the engine running.

The Russian Embassy, where the car is based, is four miles away at Kensington Gardens.

The following day, the agent noticed another Russian diplomatic car, a blue BMW 3 Series bearing the diplomatic number plate 251D306.

This time the car was spotted in the multi-storey car park directly behind Mr Williams’s flat.

The agent saw the driver clearly and described him as male and aged 35 to 45 with a brown moustache.

He added: ‘I saw him because he had to get out of the car to pay for a ticket. To my mind, these suspicious appearances show that the Russians were working in the area and were keeping someone under close surveillance.’

It has since been claimed that Mr Williams, who was on secondment to MI6 from the Government’s eavesdropping centre GCHQ, was working on equipment that tracked the flow of money from Russia to Europe.

Further suspicions that Mr Williams’s death is linked to Russia were raised when it emerged that his former flat is owned by private company New Rodina.

In Russian, ‘rodina’ means ‘motherland’ and the name The Rodina Society was used as a cover operation for KGB activity in the West during the Cold War.

The inquest into Mr Williams’s death – which sparked several outlandish conspiracy theories – resumes next month.

Up to 40 spies questioned by police could give evidence anonymously. No one has been arrested in connection with Mr Williams’s death.

Post-mortem tests have failed to determine how he died and detectives say it would have been impossible for him to lock himself in the bag. No evidence of drugs, alcohol or poison has been found.

A spokeswoman for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency said: ‘We are unable to help with identifying any cars with diplomatic number plates.’

A Whitehall source said police were investigating the case.

The Russian Embassy declined to respond.

The First Post : Did the Russian mafia kill MI6 agent Gareth Williams?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Did the Russian mafia kill MI6 agent Gareth Williams?
[or here]

Source claims Williams was working on system to foil Russian money-laundering

By Eliot Sefton | June 26, 2011

[and on MSN/UK]

MI6 agent Gareth Williams, who was found dead zipped into a holdall in his London flat last year, was working on technology designed to thwart money-laundering by the Russian mafia.

The claim, made by an unnamed source in the Mail on Sunday, has sparked off yet another theory about how and why the 31-year-old died: that he was assassinated by a Russian gang to stop his work in its tracks.

The source said: "He was involved in a very sensitive project with the highest security clearance. He was not an agent doing surveillance, but was very much part of the team, working on the technology side, devising stuff like software.

"A knock-on effect of this technology would be that a number of criminal groups in Russia would be disrupted. Some of these powerful criminal networks have links with, and employ, former KGB agents who can track down people like Williams."

The Russian mafia theory is just the latest in a series which have failed to explain Williams's death. At first, police were said to be working on the theory that he had died when a bondage sex game went wrong.

This was quickly questioned, with the suggestion that Williams had been murdered – and the bondage gear had been planted by his killer to throw investigators off the scent.

Next, Williams's uncle suggested that stories Williams was secretly gay, visited drag bars and had an extensive collection of designer women's dresses were indeed a smokescreen – but one planted by the government.

In January this year, it was suggest that he had died in a bizarre accident brought about when he zipped himself into the bag as part of an art project.

The Russian mafia story may be flimsy - but it's at least more credible than that outlandish theory.

Daily Mail : Did Russian mafia kill the body-in-a-bag spy? MI6 man found dead in holdall in London, was developing secret technology to track gangsters' laundered cash

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Did Russian mafia kill the body-in-a-bag spy? MI6 man found dead in holdall in London, was developing secret technology to track gangsters' laundered cash

By Abul Taher and Robert Verkaik | June 25, 2011

The MI6 agent found dead in a holdall at his London flat was working on secret technology to target Russian criminal gangs who launder stolen money through Britain.

The revelation adds weight to claims that Gareth Williams was killed because of his secret work and raises the possibility that the Russian mafia has targeted British spies.

Mr Williams was found locked inside a large North Face holdall in the bath at his top-floor flat in Pimlico, Central London, on August 23 last year.

It was initially suggested that the 31-year-old died accidentally at the hands of a mystery bondage sex partner he may have met on London’s gay scene.

But now security sources say Williams, who was on secondment to MI6 from the Government’s eavesdropping centre GCHQ, was working on equipment that tracked the flow of money from Russia to Europe.

The technology enabled MI6 agents to follow the money trails from bank accounts in Russia to criminal European gangs via internet and wire transfers, said the source.

‘He was involved in a very sensitive project with the highest security clearance. He was not an agent doing surveillance, but was very much part of the team, working on the technology side, devising stuff like software,’ said the source.

He added: ‘A knock-on effect of this technology would be that a number of criminal groups in Russia would be disrupted.

‘Some of these powerful criminal networks have links with, and employ, former KGB agents who can track down people like Williams.’

Last year, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Mr Williams, a keen cyclist from Anglesey, North Wales, was involved in another ‘secretive’ project, developing devices that can steal data from mobile phones and laptops using wireless technology.

A close friend also revealed that Williams was training to take on a new identity when he died.

Tory MP and security expert Patrick Mercer said last night: ‘The revelation that Gareth Williams was involved in investigating money-laundering throughout Eastern Europe throws new light on to his death.

'I am sure the police would want to investigate these facts as thoroughly as they have done the details of his private life.’

Neither GCHQ nor the Metropolitan police would discuss the new information.

The suggestion that Mr Williams died when a sex game got out of hand was raised when investigators found he enjoyed going to drag cabaret shows, had £15,000 worth of unworn women’s designer clothing in a wardrobe at his Alderney Street home, and had visited bondage websites.

But his family reject claims that their fitness-fanatic son was gay and have been angered at the way the police allowed his private life to dominate their inquiry.

The inquest into Mr Williams’ death – which sparked several outlandish conspiracy theories – will resume in September, when as many as 40 spies who have been questioned by police could give evidence anonymously.

A battery of post-mortem tests have so far failed to determine how he died and detectives say it would have been impossible for him to lock himself inside the bag.

No evidence of drugs, alcohol or poisons has been found but police said anyone zipped inside the bag would have suffocated within 30 minutes.

Coroner Paul Knapman adjourned an inquest in February while Scotland Yard detectives await the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean-looking couple seen at Mr Williams’s home weeks before his death is diminishing.

Since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Russian mafia gangs have infiltrated all parts of the Russian state and its economy.

They now control vast business and property interests outside Russia which are used to launder their fortunes, often made from state corruption.

The growing threat to the West posed by East European criminal gangs was confirmed last week when a major Ukrainian hacking ring was disrupted.

The 16-strong gang had funnelled £45 million from Western banks into accounts in Cyprus and Latvia, using a computer virus called Conficker.

One British source said: ‘Much of the Russian government at various levels, national and regional, operates like a kleptocracy, with bureaucrats visibly on the take.

‘Obviously we are worried if this money is pouring into London, and then into buying property or other assets such as companies or investments.

‘The fact is that London remains the financial centre of choice for most Russians.’

London and the surrounding area has one of the largest Russian populations of any city outside the former USSR, with up to 400,000 Russians living in the South East.

The capital has been nicknamed Moscow-on-Thames and Londongrad because of its population of wealthy emigrees, including respected tycoons close to strongman premier Vladimir Putin, such as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, as well as some of the Kremlin’s most outspoken enemies, such as the billionaire Boris Berezovsky.

This Is London : 'Spy in bag' friend attacks police inquiry

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

'Spy in bag' friend attacks police inquiry

Peter Dominiczak | April 6, 2011

A friend of the MI6 codebreaker whose body was found locked in a holdall today attacked the police investigation.

Gareth Williams, 31, was found dead in his Pimlico flat in August last year. Police have said the key to his death lies in his private life and there has been speculation he died in a "bizarre sex game gone wrong". Police revealed that women's clothes were found in the flat and he had visited a drag show.

His friend Sian Lloyd-Jones said the clothes were for her or her sister, adding: "I think it's really important for everything to be investigated, absolutely everything."

She asked why the police failed to mention £10,000 of mountaineering equipment in the flat.

BBC : VIDEO: Questions over MI6 worker Gareth Williams' death

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Questions over MI6 worker Gareth Williams' death

BBC | April 5, 2011

Fresh questions are being asked about the police investigation into the death of MI6 worker Gareth Williams.

The body of Mr Williams, from Holyhead, Anglesey, was found in a locked bag in a bath at his London falt last August.

Police revealed he had £15,000 of designer women's clothes in the flat but close friend Sian Lloyd-Jones denies speculation Mr Williams was gay and wants police to broaden their inquiry.

Iolo ap Dafydd reports.

VIDEO including Sian Lloyd-Jones and Crispin Black at the link

BBC : Gareth Williams MI6 death: police inquiry questioned

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Gareth Williams MI6 death: police inquiry questioned

By Iolo ap Dafydd | BBC Wales correspondent | April 5, 2011

A close friend of MI6 worker Gareth Williams whose body was found in a locked bag in a bath has questioned suggestions his death was linked to his private life.

The body of the code-breaker, from Holyhead on Anglesey, was found in his London flat in August.

Police revealed he had £15,000 of designer women's clothes in the flat.

But Sian Lloyd-Jones denies speculation he was gay and wants police to broaden their inquiry.

Detectives say the key to the mystery lies in Mr Williams' private life.

Press speculation has centred on him dying during a "bizarre sex game gone wrong".

That speculation was fuelled last December when police revealed Mr Williams had the women's clothes and that he had visited a drag show at a cabaret club; that he was allegedly seen at a gay bar; and that had "limited" access to bondage sites on his mobile.

But an investigation by BBC Wales raises questions about the police investigation, and asks if the key to his death really does lie in his private life.

His close friend Sian Lloyd-Jones, told Week In Week Out: "I think it's really important here for everything to be investigated - absolutely everything. I think it's about time now that the investigation is broadened.

"I feel the police did wrong around Christmas time when they released information about the clothing, but didn't reveal that there was £10,000 of mountaineering equipment as well."

Ms Lloyd-Jones denies suggestions Mr Williams was gay or a cross-dresser, saying the women's clothes were too small for him, and were probably intended for her, or his sister, Ceri.

"The things that have been in the papers have been so hurtful. To read what has been written about him has completely broken my heart, and I know it would have broken Gareth's as well," she said.

Police still don't know how Mr Williams died, and are calling his death "unexplained and suspicious".

But Crispin Black, an intelligence analyst and former advisor to the government, says the most likely explanation is that Mr Williams was murdered.

"The thing has a professional air: it's neat, it's tidy, it's organised," he said.

"A bath is where you put things if you don't want any forensic residue to be left behind. Because you know where the body's been and you can clear up after it."

Mr Black also questions the ability of the investigating police to do their job properly.

Murder squad detectives have to interview Mr Williams's former colleagues at the Secret Intelligence Service (also known as MI6) and GCHQ, the agency in Cheltenham which provides intelligence and information for the government through another team of officers from counter-terrorism.

"One of the weaknesses of the investigation, is the murder squad are interviewing friends, or colleagues, at one remove," said Mr Black.

"Interrogation, even of completely innocent people, relies on nuance, checking the story over and over again, and eye contact.

"That's how policemen decide if you're telling the truth, or not. Even if interviewing colleagues to rule them out, it should be done by the people in charge of the investigation - not somebody else,."

Week In Week Out has also uncovered new information relating to a mystery couple detectives want to find.

Police are still trying to trace a couple of "Mediterranean appearance" who visited Mr Williams' London flat a month or two before his death and had a key to the property.

The Metropolitan Police wasn't prepared to discuss that but insists it's looked into all aspects of his life, and has received full co-operation from the intelligence agencies.

As yet there's still no date set for an inquest, when the full circumstances of Gareth Williams death may eventually be explained.

BBC : Week In Week Out: Death of a Welsh Spy

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Week In Week Out: Death of a Welsh Spy

Welsh spy Gareth Williams's naked body was found in a locked bag in a bath. Police still don't know how, or why, he died. One of his closest friends speaks exclusively to the programme, and sheds more light on the mathematician from Anglesey.

Credits

Reporter : Iolo Dafydd
Producer : Andy Maguire

Broadcast

Tue 5 Apr 2011 22:35 BBC One (Wales only)

ITN : 40 spies set for MI6 man's inquest

Thursday, March 31, 2011

40 spies set for MI6 man's inquest

March 31, 2011

Up to 40 spies could give evidence anonymously at the inquest into the mysterious death of MI6 agent Gareth Williams, a coroner has been told.

Paul Knapman adjourned an inquiry into the 31-year-old's death as Scotland Yard detectives wait for the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Counter-terrorism officers have interviewed "in the region of 40" of the expert codebreaker's colleagues at MI6 and GCHQ, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

They have been passing on their findings to a team of investigators from the force's Homicide and Serious Crime Command who are responsible for the inquiry.

The inquest heard that some or all of them could give evidence about Mr Williams, whose naked and decomposing body was found in a bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat last August.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean couple seen at Mr Williams' home weeks before his death is diminishing.

She said it is "very unusual" for two teams of officers to be working on a suspicious death inquiry, but said the victim's secretive occupation was the reason.

Ham And High : Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman reflects on his 31-year career

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman reflects on his 31-year career

From the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980 to the 2005 London 7/7 bombings, Dr Knapman has seen it all

Ben Bloom, Reporter | March 27, 2011

“Every Monday morning I know there have been 25 deaths over the weekend, and there will be differences in all of them.”

It is not the usual thought most people have when they go to work to start the week but for the past 31 years Dr Paul Knapman’s job has been more than slightly different to that of the average person.

Presiding over 85,000 deaths during his time as Westminster coroner Dr Knapman, who will retire from his post at the end of March, has heard a number of notable cases throughout a long and distinguished career.

From the Iranian Embassy siege of 1980, to the rail crashes at Clapham Junction in 1988 and Ladbroke Grove in 1999, and the ongoing inquest into the 2005 London 7/7 bombings, he has presided over some of the most high-profile inquests in the past few decades.

“For 31 years I have known most roads in London, I know every cross road of significance, I know where the crack cocaine dens are, I know every tall building and I know the bridges that people jump from,” he says.

“There are some very tough jobs out there. Really difficult jobs are, for example, governors of prisons, superintendents of police stations in south London, headmasters of difficult inner-city comprehensive schools and coroners.

“There have been challenges, but on reflection it has been a very interesting and worthwhile career and I know I have made a difference in various fields.

“You are an investigator and your staff have the power to go out and investigate to get at the truth. Relatives want to get to the truth and I think it’s reasonable that they should know that.”

A role of such prestige does not come without its ups and downs, though, and Dr Knapman was on the receiving end of some criticism after he gave permission for the hands of 25 of the 51 drowning victims from the 1989 Marchioness boat disaster to be removed for identification purposes.

“Of course it was regrettable,” he says. “I don’t think there was sufficient appreciation that at the time all London coroners gave consent for unidentified drowned bodies to have their hands removed if the police wanted it and that happened to probably a couple of dozen bodies every year in the 1970s and 80s.

“In those days there was a patrician attitude that you did not tell people details they did not need to know. For example, in the 1970s and 80s some doctors wouldn’t tell people they had cancer because they did not need to know – they might just say to a woman: ‘You have a lump in the breast, it’s much better that we remove it’.

“I do take criticism personally and I think that people don’t always understand the difficulties of the job.”

While the facts and figures continue to build up before his impending retirement – he has held 150 inquests into deaths at Wandsworth prison, 100 inquests into incidents involving police, and 10 into different fatal bombings – he says the most satisfying part of the job is when he knows he has helped victims’ families.

He says: “It happens very frequently that when relatives come into court they are anxious, on the edge of their seats with lots of questions and they fear that it’s going to be a whitewash.

“The coroner asks all the questions, everything is explained and you say to them ‘do you have any questions?’ and they look relieved and say ‘no, thank you very much, it’s all clear now’.

“That’s the important thing.”

City of Westminster : New coroner appointed for inner west London

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New coroner appointed for inner west London

March 15, 2011

A new coroner has been appointed to serve inner-west London, which includes Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Wandsworth and Merton.

Dr Fiona Wilcox will take up the post on April 1, when she replaces the current coroner Dr Paul Knapman, who is retiring after 31 years.

Dr Wilcox is dual qualified being both a doctor and a barrister and has spent all her professional career working in central London.

She has been an inner-city General Practitioner for 21 years and has practiced as a barrister in criminal law, professional negligence and personal injury.

She has represented families at inquests, including military inquests in conjunction with the Royal British Legion. She has broad experience as a Coroner, having previously held four Assistant Deputy Coroner positions in East London, Southwark, North London and Kent.

Dr Wilcox said: "I am deeply honoured to be appointed to this prestigious jurisdiction and look forward to serving its diverse community. I wish to pay tribute to Dr Knapman for the excellent service and dedication to his position that he has shown over many years. I am delighted to be given the opportunity to take the coronial service forward in these challenging times."

Dr Knapman served for 36 years in total, including five years as deputy coroner, and presided over a number of high profile inquests including the Libyan embassy siege in 1984 and the Clapham rail disaster in 1987.

He said: "It has been my privilege to hold this office for so long and to serve this very disparate community - from those in embassies to the homeless hostels. But with it does come a large burden of responsibility I am pleased to hand on to a younger and very capable person."

The Coroner is an independent judicial officer who investigates violent or unnatural deaths, deaths of unknown cause or those occurring whilst a person is in custody or during the execution of an arrest by the police.

The Coroner's court is a court of enquiry not adversary and tries to identify factors that can be altered to prevent future deaths.

There are records relating to the Westminster Coroner dating back to the 1200's.

The court is sited on Horseferry Road with an allied mortuary and specialist forensic facilities. The Coroner is supported by a dedicated team of investigative officers and deals with more than 4,000 reported deaths per year.

Mirror : Police try to trace 60 fingerprints from 'spy in the bag' Gareth Williams's flat

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Police try to trace 60 fingerprints from 'spy in the bag' Gareth Williams's flat

by Justin Penrose, Sunday Mirror | February 27, 2011

DETECTIVES investigating the death of “spy in the bag” Gareth Williams are hoping to identify 60 fingerprints taken from his flat.

Officers are trying to get the dabs of fellow spies who stayed in the £1million MI6 safehouse so they can be eliminated from the probe.

The naked body of code-breaker Williams, 31, was found in a padlocked holdall in a bath in ­August. Prints are also being taken from his friends and family.

A source said: “It is one of the last throws of the dice.”

Cops face being kicked out of the flat in Pimlico, London, as it has been a potential crime scene for six months.

The source added: “The landlord is well within his rights to kick us out.”

West End Extra : Gareth Williams death - Cops hunt couple in MI6 mystery

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gareth Williams death - Cops hunt couple in MI6 mystery

also at Camden New Journal

Search goes on for pair seen leaving home of spy who was found dead in a locked holdall

by JOSH LOEB | February 18, 2011

THE detective leading the investigation into the death of an MI6 spy whose body was found in a padlocked holdall in his flat has said police are no closer to tracing the “Mediterranean couple” seen leaving his home.

Speaking on Tuesday at the inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, who was discovered on August 23 last year, DCI Jacqueline Sebire said the couple, spotted last summer emerging from the Pimlico flat, had not come forward and no fresh clues had been unearthed.

Asked by Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman if investigators had found any new leads, she replied: “Not at the present time regarding witnesses and we are still seeking to trace the Mediterranean couple.”

Dr Knapman asked: “It is getting less and less likely that anything is going to happen there?” DCI Sebire replied: “Perhaps.” Officers are still awaiting some forensic test results and members of the secret services may be granted anonymity if called to give evidence.

DCI Sebire said the murder squad were dealing with enquiries surrounding Mr Williams’s private life and her counterparts from the anti-terrorist unit were dealing with the intelligence services. She said they had interviewed around 40 of 31-year-old Mr Williams’s MI6 colleagues. Asked by the coroner whether it was unusual for aspects of a case to be kept separate in this way, DCI Sebire replied: “It’s an unusual case given his occupation.” And asked for her view on M16 operatives giving evidence to the inquest anonymously, she said: “I don’t see any problem with that.”

Coroner’s officer Barry May said Mr Williams’s family had said that they had “no problem whatsoever” with evidence being given anonymously in court.

The inquest was adjourned to March 31.

TMCnet : Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

Friday, February 18, 2011

Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

Associated Press | February 18, 2011

LONDON (AP) — A coroner said Tuesday it is increasingly unlikely that police will be able to track down a couple they want to interview about the death of a British codebreaker whose naked and decomposing body was found inside a padlocked sports bag.

Paul Knapman is overseeing an inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, who was discovered in the bathtub of his London home on Aug. 23. Police have made no arrests and are not certain how the 31–year–old employee of code–breaking agency GCHQ died.

At an inquest hearing Tuesday, Knapman said it was "less and less likely" that a man and woman seen at Williams' home weeks before his death would be found.

The couple, described as in Mediterranean appearance and aged between 20 and 30, were seen at the door of Williams' apartment block in June or July, and indicated to a witness that they had a key.

Knapman said police had to face the fact that "in six months or so they have not come forward" and no new clues have emerged.

Williams' death has spawned fevered speculation and conspiracy theories, as police have tried to determine whether it was linked to his work or to his personal life.

Detectives have said inquiries showed Williams had viewed bondage–related websites, and have suggested he may have died in a sex game gone wrong.

Security officials have downplayed suggestions that Williams' death was connected to his work. He was working on attachment to the foreign spy service, MI6, when he died.

Toxicology tests found no traces of drugs or poisons that may have led to his death. Experts consulted by police said Williams could not have locked himself inside the bag — which was fastened with a padlock — and could have survived for only 30 minutes inside before suffocating.

In Britain, inquests must be held any time someone dies unexpectedly, violently or from unknown causes. The goal is to determine the cause rather than to affix blame.

Knapman said about 40 of Williams' fellow spies had been interviewed by police and could be called to give evidence anonymously at the inquest.

He adjourned the hearings until March 31, so police can get results from more forensic tests.

This Is Gloucestershire : More than 40 spies could give evidence at Gareth Williams' inquest

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More than 40 spies could give evidence at Gareth Williams' inquest

February 16, 2011

UP to 40 spies could give evidence anonymously at the inquest into the mysterious death of GCHQ agent Gareth Williams, a coroner was told.

Yesterday Paul Knapman adjourned an inquiry into the 31-year-old's death as Scotland Yard detectives wait for the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Counter-terrorism officers have interviewed "in the region of 40" of the expert codebreaker's colleagues at GCHQ in Cheltenham as well as at MI6, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

They have been passing on their findings to a team of investigators from the force's Homicide and Serious Crime Command who are responsible for the inquiry.

The inquest heard that some or all of them could give evidence about Mr Williams, whose body was found in a bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat last August.

He had been just days away from completing a one-year secondment from GCHQ to MI6 in the capital.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean couple, who were seen at Mr Williams's home weeks before his death, was diminishing.

She said it was "very unusual" for two teams of officers to be working on a suspicious death inquiry, but said the victim's secretive occupation was the reason.

Speaking about forensic tests, she said: "We have done a phased submission of tests to the laboratory.

"We are still waiting for some outstanding tests that went out before Christmas."

After a 10-minute hearing, Dr Knapman adjourned the inquest until March 31, but said it was not known whether it will go ahead then.

Daily Post Wales : 40 spies will give evidence at Gareth Williams inquest

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

40 spies will give evidence at Gareth Williams inquest

by Owen R Hughes, DPW West | February 16, 2011

UP to 40 spies could give evidence anonymously at the inquest into the mysterious death of MI6 agent Gareth Williams, a coroner was told yesterday.

Coroner Paul Knapman adjourned an inquiry into the 31-year-old’s death as Scotland Yard detectives wait for the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Counter-terrorism officers have interviewed “in the region of 40” of the expert codebreaker’s colleagues at MI6 and GCHQ, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard.

They have been passing on their findings to a team of investigators from the force’s Homicide and Serious Crime Command who are responsible for the inquiry.

The inquest heard that some or all of them could give evidence about Mr Williams, whose naked and decomposing body was found in a sports bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat last August.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean couple seen at Mr Williams’s home weeks before his death is diminishing.

She said it is “very unusual” for two teams of officers to be working on a suspicious death inquiry, but said the victim’s secretive occupation was the reason.

Speaking about forensic tests, she added: “We have done a phased submission of tests to the laboratory.

“We are still waiting for some outstanding tests that went out before Christmas.”

After a 10-minute hearing, Dr Knapman adjourned the inquest until Thursday March 31, but said it is not known whether it will go ahead then.

Dr Knapman said he had read a report summarising the forensic tests written by a police expert but added “it is a matter of some regret'” that the inquest cannot go ahead.

He said the Mediterranean couple have not come forward, there are no new clues and it appears to be “less and less likely that something will happen”.

The coroner added: “The fact you must face is that in six months or so they have not come forward, this couple, have they?”

Mrs Sebire replied: “That is correct, sir.” The senior detective added that a “raft” of forensic tests have taken place and she is still waiting for the results of some submitted six months ago and more recently.

Mrs Sebire said her team is dealing with the dead man’s private life, forensic tests and other inquiries while counter-terrorism officers are responsible for liaising with spy agencies.

She said she has regular meetings with her counterpart, passes instructions to him on who should be interviewed and could arrange to see a potential witness if necessary.

Dr Knapman said Mr Williams’ family expect a “thorough inquest” and was told they have “no problem whatsoever” with his colleagues being granted anonymity.

The pre-inquest hearing was told they were invited to attend yesterday but did not come.

They have appointed a solicitor to represent them.

Mr Williams, of Anglesey, was found in a large North Face holdall, sealed by a padlock, at his top-floor flat in Alderney Street on August 23.

The mysterious discovery sparked a painstaking Scotland Yard investigation, worldwide media frenzy, and several outlandish conspiracy theories.

A battery of post-mortem tests have so far failed to determine how he died and police found it would have been impossible for him to have locked himself inside.

No evidence of drugs, alcohol or poisons have been found but police said anyone zipped inside the bag would have quickly found the temperature unbearable and suffocated within 30 minutes.

Investigators believe the fitness and fashion enthusiast had gone to drag cabaret shows, had £15,000-worth of unworn women’s designer clothing in a wardrobe, and had visited bondage websites.

Police have released e-fit images of a young, casually-dressed Mediterranean couple who a neighbour buzzed through the communal doors of Mr Williams’s block in June or July.

Mr Williams was a mathematics prodigy who worked as a cipher and codes expert for GCHQ, the Government listening station, but had been on secondment to MI6.

Mirror : Spies to give anonymous evidence at inquest of MI6 man found dead in holdall

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spies to give anonymous evidence at inquest of MI6 man found dead in holdall

by Adrian Shaw, Daily Mirror | February 16, 2011

Up to 40 spies who worked with the MI6 agent found dead in a padlocked holdall will give evidence in secret.

City of Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman heard Gareth Williams’s family is happy for spies to stay behind a screen and not reveal names at his inquest.

The naked body of Mr Williams, 31, of Anglesey, North Wales, was found in his London flat in August. Det Chief Insp Jacqueline Sebire yesterday admitted: “We have no substantial leads at this time.” The inquest was adjourned to March 31.

Sky News [blog] : A Failing Investigation

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Failing Investigation

Martin Brunt | February 15, 2011

So we'll probably never know the how, why or who in the bizarre death of codebreaker spook Gareth Williams.

Police have admitted they haven't found the mystery couple who visited him and are still awaiting the results of forensic/toxicology tests six months after he was found suffocated and naked inside a locked sports bag in the bath of his flat.

The inquest into his death has been postponed again while police continue to try to unravel his complicated life.

Up to forty of his spook colleagues from MI6 and GCHQ may give evidence at the inquest, but will be granted anonimity.

And those potential witnesses aren't even being interviewed by the investigation team.

They, unusually, are being quizzed by counter-terror detectives, who then pass the information to homicide police.

They can hardly be surprised then by the many conspiracy theories that abound.

Readers, feel free to add your own.

You might help the cops.

Mirror : Spy inquest: Up to 40 spies could give evidence into death of Gareth Williams

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spy inquest: Up to 40 spies could give evidence into death of Gareth Williams

February 15, 2011

Up to 40 spies could give evidence anonymously at the inquest into the mysterious death of MI6 agent Gareth Williams, a coroner was told today.

Paul Knapman adjourned an inquiry into the 31-year-old's death as Scotland Yard detectives wait for the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Counter-terrorism officers have interviewed "in the region of 40" of the expert codebreaker's colleagues at MI6 and GCHQ, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

They have been passing on their findings to a team of investigators from the force's Homicide and Serious Crime Command who are responsible for the inquiry.

The inquest heard that some or all of them could give evidence about Mr Williams, whose naked and decomposing body was found in a bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat last August.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean couple seen at Mr Williams's home weeks before his death is diminishing.

She said it is "very unusual" for two teams of officers to be working on a suspicious death inquiry, but said the victim's secretive occupation was the reason.

Speaking about forensic tests, she added: "We have done a phased submission of tests to the laboratory. We are still waiting for some outstanding tests that went out before Christmas."

After a 10-minute hearing, Dr Knapman adjourned the inquest until Thursday March 31, but said it is not known whether it will go ahead then.

Dr Knapman said he had read a report summarising the forensic tests written by a police expert but added "it is a matter of some regret" that the inquest cannot go ahead.

He said the Mediterranean couple have not come forward, there are no new clues and it appears to be "less and less likely that something will happen".

The coroner added: "The fact you must face is that in six months or so they have not come forward, this couple, have they?"

Mrs Sebire replied: "That is correct, sir."

The senior detective added that a "raft" of forensic tests have taken place and she is still waiting for the results of some submitted six months ago and more recently.

Mrs Sebire said her team is dealing with the dead man's private life, forensic tests and other inquiries while counter-terrorism officers are responsible for liaising with spy agencies.

She said she has regular meetings with her counterpart, passes instructions to him on who should be interviewed and could arrange to see a potential witness if necessary.

Dr Knapman said Mr Williams' family expect a "thorough inquest" and was told they have "no problem whatsoever" with his colleagues being granted anonymity.

The pre-inquest hearing was told they were invited to attend today but did not come. They have appointed a solicitor to represent them.

Forbes : Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

Associated Press | February 15, 2011

LONDON -- A coroner says it is increasingly unlikely police will track down a couple they want to interview about the death of a British codebreaker whose decomposing body was found inside a padlocked sports bag.

Paul Knapman is overseeing an inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, who was found in the bathtub of his London home in August.

Police have made no arrests and are not certain how the 31-year-old agent died.

Knapman said Tuesday that some 40 of Williams' fellow spies had been interviewed by police and could give evidence. He adjourned the inquest until March 31, while police await the results of forensic tests.

And he said it was "less and less likely" that a man and woman seen at Williams' home weeks before his death would come forward.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

AP : Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

AP | February 15, 2011

LONDON (AP) — A coroner said Tuesday it is increasingly unlikely that police will be able to track down a couple they want to interview about the death of a British codebreaker whose naked and decomposing body was found inside a padlocked sports bag.

Paul Knapman is overseeing an inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, who was discovered in the bathtub of his London home on Aug. 23. Police have made no arrests and are not certain how the 31-year-old employee of code-breaking agency GCHQ died.

At an inquest hearing Tuesday, Knapman said it was "less and less likely" that a man and woman seen at Williams' home weeks before his death would be found.

The couple, described as in Mediterranean appearance and aged between 20 and 30, were seen at the door of Williams' apartment block in June or July, and indicated to a witness that they had a key.

Knapman said police had to face the fact that "in six months or so they have not come forward" and no new clues have emerged.

Williams' death has spawned fevered speculation and conspiracy theories, as police have tried to determine whether it was linked to his work or to his personal life.

Detectives have said inquiries showed Williams had viewed bondage-related websites, and have suggested he may have died in a sex game gone wrong.

Security officials have downplayed suggestions that Williams' death was connected to his work. He was working on attachment to the foreign spy service, MI6, when he died.

Toxicology tests found no traces of drugs or poisons that may have led to his death. Experts consulted by police said Williams could not have locked himself inside the bag — which was fastened with a padlock — and could have survived for only 30 minutes inside before suffocating.

In Britain, inquests must be held any time someone dies unexpectedly, violently or from unknown causes. The goal is to determine the cause rather than to affix blame.

Knapman said about 40 of Williams' fellow spies had been interviewed by police and could be called to give evidence anonymously at the inquest.

He adjourned the hearings until March 31, so police can get results from more forensic tests.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The Journal [Ireland] : Couple sought over MI6 officer’s death may never be found, say police

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Couple sought over MI6 officer’s death may never be found, say police

February 15, 2011

THE INQUEST THE DEATH of a MI6 officer Gareth Williams has heard that two people wanted in connection with the death have not come forward and are not likely to be traced, the BBC reports.

The body of Williams, 31, of Anglesey, North Wales, was found locked inside a large sports bag inside the bath of his London apartment in August 2010.

He lived in Pimlico, London, just yards from MI6 headquarters. A post-mortem failed to establish the cause of death.

Investigators had said there was no indication his death was due more to his private life than his professional one, though both have been considered and some 40 intelligence employees have been interviewed.

Williams’ work involved him travelling to the US a few times a year to visit the National Security Agency. His family described him as a mathematical genius and a very private person.

Today, the inquest was adjourned until the end of March, but the detective leading the investigation into Williams’ death acknowledged that it was becoming less and less likely that the wanted couple would be traced, according to the Telegraph.

The man and woman were seen at his London home before his death and are described as being a “Mediterranean” couple in their 20s.

KGAN [Cedar Rapids, Iowa] : Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

February 15, 2011

LONDON (AP) -- A coroner says it is increasingly unlikely police will track down a couple they want to interview about the death of a British codebreaker whose decomposing body was found inside a padlocked sports bag.

Paul Knapman is overseeing an inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, who was found in the bathtub of his London home in August.

Police have made no arrests and are not certain how the 31-year-old agent died.

Knapman said Tuesday that some 40 of Williams' fellow spies had been interviewed by police and could give evidence. He adjourned the inquest until March 31, while police await the results of forensic tests.

And he said it was "less and less likely" that a man and woman seen at Williams' home weeks before his death would come forward.

Telegraph : MI6 spy Gareth Williams: 40 spies could give evidence at inquest into death

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MI6 spy Gareth Williams: 40 spies could give evidence at inquest into death

Up to 40 spies could give evidence anonymously at the inquest into the mysterious death of Gareth Williams, the MI6 agent found dead in the bath, a coroner has been told.

February 15, 2011

Paul Knapman adjourned an inquiry into the 31-year-old's death as Scotland Yard detectives wait for the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Counter-terrorism officers have interviewed ''in the region of 40'' of the expert codebreaker's colleagues at MI6 and GCHQ, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

They have been passing on their findings to a team of investigators from the force's Homicide and Serious Crime Command who are responsible for the inquiry.

The inquest heard that some or all of them could give evidence about Mr Williams, whose naked and decomposing body was found in a bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat last August.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean couple seen at Mr Williams's home weeks before his death is diminishing.

She said it is ''very unusual'' for two teams of officers to be working on a suspicious death inquiry, but said the victim's secretive occupation was the reason.

Speaking about forensic tests, she added: ''We have done a phased submission of tests to the laboratory. We are still waiting for some outstanding tests that went out before Christmas.''

After a 10-minute hearing, Dr Knapman adjourned the inquest until Thursday March 31, but said it is not known whether it will go ahead then.

Dr Knapman said he had read a report summarising the forensic tests written by a police expert but added "it is a matter of some regret" that the inquest cannot go ahead.

He said the Mediterranean couple have not come forward, there are no new clues and it appears to be "less and less likely that something will happen".

The coroner added: "The fact you must face is that in six months or so they have not come forward, this couple, have they?"

Mrs Sebire replied: "That is correct, sir."

The senior detective added that a "raft" of forensic tests have taken place and she is still waiting for the results of some submitted six months ago and more recently.

Mrs Sebire said her team is dealing with the dead man's private life, forensic tests and other inquiries while counter-terrorism officers are responsible for liaising with spy agencies.

She said she has regular meetings with her counterpart, passes instructions to him on who should be interviewed and could arrange to see a potential witness if necessary.

Dr Knapman said Mr Williams' family expect a "thorough inquest" and was told they have "no problem whatsoever" with his colleagues being granted anonymity.

The pre-inquest hearing was told they were invited to attend today but did not come. They have appointed a solicitor to represent them.

Mr Williams, of Anglesey, North Wales, was found in a large North Face holdall, sealed by a padlock, at his top-floor flat in Alderney Street on August 23.

The mysterious discovery sparked a painstaking Scotland Yard investigation, worldwide media frenzy, and several outlandish conspiracy theories.

A battery of post-mortem tests have so far failed to determine how he died and police found it would have been impossible for him to have locked himself inside.

No evidence of drugs, alcohol or poisons have been found but police said anyone zipped inside the bag would have quickly found the temperature unbearable and suffocated within 30 minutes.

Investigators believe the fitness and fashion enthusiast probably died accidentally at the hands of a mystery bondage sex partner he may have met on London's gay scene.

They found he enjoyed going to drag cabaret shows, had £15,000-worth of unworn women's designer clothing in a wardrobe, and had visited bondage websites.

Police have released e-fit images of a young, casually-dressed Mediterranean couple who a neighbour buzzed through the communal doors of Mr Williams's block in June or July.

Mr Williams was a mathematics prodigy who worked as a cipher and codes expert for GCHQ, the Government listening station, but had been on secondment to MI6.

Telegraph : MI6 spy Gareth Williams: investigation making no progress, inquest hears

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MI6 spy Gareth Williams: investigation making no progress, inquest hears

The investigation into the death of the MI6 agent Gareth Williams has made little progress and a breakthrough looks unlikely, a coroner said today.

By Martin Evans | February 15, 2011

Detectives hunting a Mediterranean couple in connection with the mysterious death admitted they had still not come forward and no fresh clues to their identity had been unearthed.

An inquest into the death of Mr Williams, whose naked body was found, padlocked inside a large holdall in his London flat last August, was postponed while further forensic tests are conducted.

But expressing his regret at having to adjourning the hearing, Westminster Coroner Dr Paul Knapman, said it was unlikely any key witnesses would now be found.

Addressing Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire who is leading the investigation for the Metropolitan Police murder squad, Dr Knapman said: “What is the position regarding potential witnesses, last time you wanted to know whether there had been anybody seen in the flat at that time, are there any further leads?”

DCI Sebire replied: “"Not at the present time in relation to witnesses, and we still are seeking to trace the Mediterranean couple."

Dr Knapman replied: "It is getting less and less likely that anything is going to happen there, the fact must be faced that for six months or so you haven't come up with that couple."

DCI Sebire replied: "That is correct sir."

Mr Williams, 31, of Anglesey, North Wales, was found locked inside a large North Face holdall in the bath at his top-floor flat in Alderney Street in Pimlico, central London on August 23.

The mysterious discovery sparked a painstaking Scotland Yard investigation, worldwide media frenzy, and several outlandish conspiracy theories.

A battery of post-mortem tests have so far failed to determine how he died and police found it would have been impossible for him to have locked himself inside.

No evidence of drugs, alcohol or poisons have been found but police said anyone zipped inside the bag would have quickly found the temperature unbearable and suffocated within 30 minutes.

Investigators believe the fitness and fashion enthusiast probably died accidentally at the hands of a mystery bondage sex partner he may have met on London's gay scene.

They found he enjoyed going to drag cabaret shows, had £15,000-worth of unworn women's designer clothing in a wardrobe, and had visited bondage websites.

Today's short hearing also heard that up to 40 spies could be granted anonymity if they are required to give evidence at the full inquest.

Counter terrorism officers have already spoken to a number of colleagues of Mr Williams at MI6 and the GCHQ listening station in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

DCI Sebire said her team was dealing with inquiries surrounding Mr Williams’ private life, while counter-terrorism officers were responsible for dealing with the intelligence agencies.

Explaining how the two teams would then liaise, she said: "It is unusual but it is a very unusual case given his occupation."

Dr Knapman said: "When the time comes I anticipate that those people who may have to attend this inquest who are part of the intelligence services may wish for anonymity."

DCI Sebire confirmed that the Met Police would not opposed anonymity at this stage in proceedings.

Coroner’s officer Barry May confirmed that the Mr Williams family had been informed of today's proceedings but did not wish to attend.

When asked if they opposed anonymity he said: "They have no problem with it whatsoever."

The family will be appointing lawyers for the full inquest, which was today adjourned until March 31, but may be delayed further.

Independent : 40 spies set for MI6 man's inquest

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

40 spies set for MI6 man's inquest

PA | February 15, 2011

Up to 40 spies could give evidence anonymously at the inquest into the mysterious death of MI6 agent Gareth Williams, a coroner was told today.

Paul Knapman adjourned an inquiry into the 31-year-old's death as Scotland Yard detectives wait for the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Counter-terrorism officers have interviewed "in the region of 40" of the expert codebreaker's colleagues at MI6 and GCHQ, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

They have been passing on their findings to a team of investigators from the force's Homicide and Serious Crime Command who are responsible for the inquiry.

The inquest heard that some or all of them could give evidence about Mr Williams, whose naked and decomposing body was found in a bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat last August.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean couple seen at Mr Williams's home weeks before his death is diminishing.

She said it is "very unusual" for two teams of officers to be working on a suspicious death inquiry, but said the victim's secretive occupation was the reason.

Speaking about forensic tests, she added: "We have done a phased submission of tests to the laboratory. We are still waiting for some outstanding tests that went out before Christmas."

After a 10-minute hearing, Dr Knapman adjourned the inquest until Thursday March 31, but said it is not known whether it will go ahead then.

UKPA : 40 spies set for MI6 man's inquest

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

40 spies set for MI6 man's inquest

February 15, 2011

Up to 40 spies could give evidence anonymously at the inquest into the mysterious death of MI6 agent Gareth Williams in central London, a coroner has been told.

Paul Knapman adjourned an inquiry into the 31-year-old's death as Scotland Yard detectives wait for the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Counter-terrorism officers have interviewed "in the region of 40" of the expert codebreaker's colleagues at MI6 and GCHQ, Westminster Coroner's Court heard.

The inquest heard that some or all of them could give evidence about Mr Williams, whose naked and decomposing body was found in a bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat last August.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean couple seen at Mr Williams's home weeks before his death is diminishing.

Speaking about forensic tests, she said: "We have done a phased submission of tests to the laboratory. We are still waiting for some outstanding tests that went out before Christmas."

After a 10-minute hearing, Dr Knapman adjourned the inquest until Thursday March 31, but said it is not known whether it will go ahead then.

Dr Knapman said he had read a report summarising the forensic tests written by a police expert but added "it is a matter of some regret" that the inquest cannot go ahead. He said the Mediterranean couple have not come forward, there are no new clues and it appears to be "less and less likely that something will happen".

Mr Williams, of Anglesey, North Wales, was found in a large North Face holdall, sealed by a padlock, at his top-floor flat in Alderney Street on August 23.

The mysterious discovery sparked a painstaking Scotland Yard investigation, worldwide media frenzy, and several outlandish conspiracy theories. A battery of post-mortem tests have so far failed to determine how he died and police found it would have been impossible for him to have locked himself inside.

Copyright © 2011 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

Sky News : Spy Death Cops Fail To Find Elusive Couple

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spy Death Cops Fail To Find Elusive Couple

Gary Mitchell, Sky News Online | February 15, 2011

Detectives investigating the mysterious death of a spy found dead in a padlocked holdall have admitted they are no closer to tracing a couple seen at his home.

Gareth Williams' body was found in a padlocked holdall at his home last August

The pair, described as Mediterranean in appearance, were seen at Gareth Williams' central London flat weeks before he died.

Police are continuing to treat the case as suspicious and it remains unclear how he died.

An inquest into the 31-year-old codebreaker’s death has been adjourned until March 31 as Scotland Yard awaits the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

As many as 40 of Mr Williams' spy colleagues could be called to give evidence anonymously as part of the inquiry, it emerged at Westminster Coroner's Court.

They have been interviewed by counter-terrorism detectives, who have been passing the information to homicide police.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire said the likelihood of finding the Mediterranean couple was diminishing.

The gifted mathematician's naked and decomposing body was found in a bag in the bath of his Pimlico flat last August.

He started work at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, before moving to London for a secondment at MI6.

Manchester Wired : MI6 officer Gareth Williams death: couple 'untraceable'

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MI6 officer Gareth Williams death: couple 'untraceable'

February 15, 2011

A couple sought in connection with the death of an MI6 officer may never be traced, police have conceded.

Gareth Williams, 31, from Holyhead on Anglesey, north Wales, was found dead in a padlocked holdall in his central London flat in August.

The death remains suspicious and unexplained with no cause found.

Westminster Coroner's Court heard it was unlikely that a Mediterranean couple seen at his flats before he died would be traced.

Det Ch Insp Jackie Sebire also disclosed that more forensic tests were being carried out.

Some 40 officers working for the intelligence services have been now interviewed by detectives investigating the death.

They have been questioned by Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command - even though the inquiry is being led by a separate team specialising in homicide.

The inquest was adjourned until 31 March.

Mr Williams, a gifted mathematician, graduated with a first class degree in maths at just 17.

He began work at the Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham before being seconded to MI6.

BBC : MI6 officer Gareth Williams death: couple 'untraceable'

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BBC main: MI6 officer Gareth Williams death: couple 'untraceable'
BBC mobile: MI6 officer Gareth Williams death: couple 'untraceable'

February 15, 2011

A couple sought in connection with the death of an MI6 officer may never be traced, police have conceded.

Gareth Williams, 31, from Holyhead on Anglesey, north Wales, was found dead in a padlocked holdall in his central London flat in August.

The death remains suspicious and unexplained with no cause found.

Westminster Coroner's Court heard it was unlikely that a Mediterranean couple seen at his flats before he died would be traced.

Det Ch Insp Jackie Sebire also disclosed that more forensic tests were being carried out.

Some 40 officers working for the intelligence services have been now interviewed by detectives investigating the death.

They have been questioned by Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command - even though the inquiry is being led by a separate team specialising in homicide.

The inquest was adjourned until 31 March.

Mr Williams, a gifted mathematician, graduated with a first class degree in maths at just 17.

He began work at the Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham before being seconded to MI6.

Washington Post : Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coroner adjourns inquest into death of British spy

The Associated Press | February 15, 2011

LONDON -- A coroner says it is increasingly unlikely police will track down a couple they want to interview about the death of a British codebreaker whose decomposing body was found inside a padlocked sports bag.

Paul Knapman is overseeing an inquest into the death of Gareth Williams, who was found in the bathtub of his London home in August.

Police have made no arrests and are not certain how the 31-year-old agent died.

Knapman said Tuesday that some 40 of Williams' fellow spies had been interviewed by police and could give evidence. He adjourned the inquest until March 31, while police await the results of forensic tests.

And he said it was "less and less likely" that a man and woman seen at Williams' home weeks before his death would come forward.

This Is Gloucestershire : Claims about GCHQ spy 'are just a decoy'

Monday, January 24, 2011

Claims about GCHQ spy 'are just a decoy'

January 24, 2011

A FORMER tutor of murdered GCHQ spy Dr Gareth Williams has claimed allegations about his private life are a 'decoy', according to reports.

The 31-year-old's body was found in a padlocked bag in his London flat last year.

He had been on secondment with MI6 in London following 10 years working at GCHQ in Cheltenham, during which time he rented a room in Prestbury.

Media reports have linked Dr Williams with an interest in women's clothing after designer dresses were found in his wardrobe.

It has also been suggested the expert codebreaker was homosexual.

However, Cheryl Eastap, who taught Dr Williams at Central St Martin's College in London, told the Mail on Sunday the claims and leaked suggestions were 'hurtful'.

She said: "It was hurtful to his family and it was a decoy.

"I don't think he was gay or a crossdresser. Maybe he collected dresses."

Ms Eastap dismissed newspaper reports last week that Dr Williams might have locked himself in the North Face holdall as some kind of 'homework' for her course, which was exploring confined spaces.

A Scotland Yard spokesman declined to say if any leaked information had come from police, MI5 or MI6.

Wales Online : Allegations about dead spy’s private life ‘a decoy’

Monday, January 24, 2011

Allegations about dead spy’s private life ‘a decoy’

by Carys Jones, Western Mail | January 24, 2011

A FORMER tutor of MI6 spy Gareth Williams yesterday claimed allegations about his sexuality and his private life were leaked as a decoy.

The 31-year-old from Anglesey was found dead in a padlocked sports bag in his central London flat last August.

Cheryl Eastap, who taught the GCHQ code-breaker on a part-time clothing design course in London, said suggestions from anonymous police and security sources that he was gay and a cross-dresser may have been made to make his death appear to be an accident rather than something more sinister.

Around £15,000 worth of designer women’s clothing was also found at his home, but Ms Eastap told a Sunday newspaper he may well have collected the outfits as many other fashions students do.

She said: “The police should not have leaked all these things about him.

“It was hurtful to his family and it was a decoy.”

Although the tutor said it was quite normal for fashion students to collect such items, she said Williams had not needed them for her course.

Despite a high-profile investigation into Mr Williams’s death, no one has yet been arrested or questioned as a suspect.

An inquest is due to take place next month.

Daily Mail : Body-in-bag spy's teacher says lurid police claims about his private life were a 'decoy'

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Body-in-bag spy's teacher says lurid police claims about his private life were a 'decoy'

By Abul Taher | January 23, 2011

A former tutor of the MI6 spy found dead in a padlocked sports bag has claimed that lurid allegations about his private life were a ‘decoy’.

Cheryl Eastap said suggestions from anonymous police and security sources that Gareth Williams was gay and a cross-dresser – denied by his family and friends – were ‘hurtful’.

And she hinted that the leaks may have been made to make it appear that his death was an accident rather than something more sinister.

Ms Eastap taught the 31-year-old GCHQ code-breaker at Central St Martin’s College in London, where he completed a part-time course in clothing design weeks before his body was found at his flat.

‘The police should not have leaked all these things about him. It was hurtful to his family and it was a decoy. I don’t think he was gay or a cross-dresser. Maybe he collected dresses – fashion students do,’ she said, referring to the fact that £15,000 of designer costumes were found in Williams’s Central London flat.

Ms Eastap said Williams did not need the outfits for her course. ‘Students have to buy their own materials, but the dresses they found in his flat had nothing to do with my course. He did not need them.’

Although Williams’s body was found five months ago, no one has been arrested over his death or questioned as a suspect, despite a high-profile investigation by Scotland Yard, with the assistance of MI5 and MI6.

In the days after Williams’s body was discovered, lurid reports appeared quoting unnamed sources which alleged he was a secret homosexual who visited the capital’s gay bars.

The sources said bondage equipment was found in his Pimlico flat as well as telephone numbers for gay escorts. The claims were later officially denied by the Metropolitan Police.

But last month police revealed that they had found women’s clothing and wigs at his flat. They added that Williams visited bondage websites and had a ticket for a drag comedy night.

Last month The Mail on Sunday interviewed Williams’s childhood sweetheart Sian Lloyd-Jones, 33, who said Williams usually bought expensive dresses for her and his younger sister, Ceri.

Miss Lloyd-Jones said the dresses could not have been for Williams as they were too small for him, and that he would have told her or his sister if he was gay.

Ms Eastap also dismissed news¬paper reports last week that Williams might have locked himself in the North Face holdall as some kind of ‘homework’ for her course, which was exploring confined spaces.

A Scotland Yard spokesman declined to comment on whether the leaks came from police, MI5 or MI6. He added: ‘The investigation is ongoing.’

MSN [UK] : Did spy Gareth Williams die in bizarre art accident?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Did spy Gareth Williams die in bizarre art accident?

Eliot Sefton, thefirstpost.co.uk, January 16, 2011

In a theory which seems so totally bizarre it might just be true, police now believe MI6 officer Gareth Williams zipped himself into a holdall in the bath in his flat as research for an art project - but suffocated before he could get out again.

A GCHQ codebreaker on secondment to MI6, where his work made him privy to highly classified anti-terrorism material, Williams was found dead on August 23 last year in a government safe house where he had been living.

At least a week after he had last been seen alive, his body was discovered in a North Face holdall in the bath at his top-floor apartment in Pimlico, a short walk from MI6 headquarters.

Problematically for investigators, no cause of death could be determined. Theories about Williams's death have since ranged from polonium poisoning by foreign agents to bizarre sex games gone wrong.

Now, the Sunday Mirror says, police have come up with the strangest theory yet.

Investigation of Williams's laptop revealed he had paid £695 to join a 10-week part-time course at Central St Martin's College in London titled Fashion Design for Beginners.

St Martin's is an illustrious place to study fashion, with alumi among the world's top designers, including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Stella McCartney - so it is evident that the thorough codebreaker had done his research and was serious about the course.

The fashion course also explains the presence of £15,000-worth of designer dresses, including some by Stella McCartney, and pairs of shoes in Williams's flat. It had earlier been claimed he was a cross-dresser - though the clothes were still wrapped.

Police also discovered Williams had visited bondage websites on his laptop. The new theory suggests there may have been no sexual motive for this.

A police source told the newspaper: "He had also visited websites linked to bondage although he may have simply been looking up ways to lock himself up and then unlock himself."

Why? Because, police believe, he had been given a project by his St Martin's tutor titled 'Living Spaces'.

They now think the holdall may have been an attempt by Williams to research a project on exactly how little living space it is possible to exist in - research that went horribly wrong when the fit 31-year-old found himself trapped and suffocated in the August heat.

The theory is so bizarre it's tempting to believe it: and it certainly should provide comfort for Williams's family, who have made public their dismay at the suggestion he was leading secret double life as a cross-dressing, gay, bondage enthusiast.

Williams's close friend Sian Lloyd-Jones said last month: "It would have been fine [by us] if he was [gay] but he had too much ­interest in women.

"He was really open with his friends and family about his ­personal life and I truly believe if he had any interest in homosexuality he would have spoken to his sister and to me as well."

But at least one person close to story seems to find the new theory less than convincing: Williams's fashion tutor, Cheryl Eastap. She told the newspaper: "The police did come to see me.

"The idea that his death and his work on the course was linked is a crazy idea that the police dreamed up. They said it might relate to it but I can’t see how it relates at all."

And security analysts reacted with extreme scepticism to the suggestion that Williams could have zipped himself into the holdall when it was first mooted in September. At the time it was thought he had zipped himself in for sexual reasons.

But if the theory is bunk, where did it come from? Could it be a clumsy attempt to atone to Williams's family and friends for the earlier slurs - while the truth of his death remains an espionage-shrouded mystery?

Mirror : MI6 spy death could be bizarre art course accident

Sunday, January 16, 2011

MI6 spy death could be bizarre art course accident

By Susie Boniface, Sunday Mirror | January 16, 2011

MI6 spy Gareth Williams – whose body was found naked in a padlocked bag – may have died while taking part in a bizarre experiment for an art project.

Police now believe the codebreaker could have accidentally killed himself while doing research for a part-time art and fashion course after being set an assignment entitled Living Spaces.

In the weeks before his death it is feared he was trying to push the ­boundaries by existing in a confined space.

The development would come as a comfort to Gareth’s family, who have endured months of speculation that he was secretly gay, indulged in bizarre sex games and was a cross-dresser.

The superfit maths genius, 31, had joined a weekend class at prestigious Central St Martin’s College in London to learn about clothes design.

Gareth’s body lay undiscovered for more than a week in a padlocked North Face holdall in the bath of an MI6 safe house in Pimlico, central London, where he was living.

It has now emerged that, in marked contrast to his work in the staid world of the secret services, he paid £695 to enrol on a part-time course run by ­lecturer and designer Cheryl Eastap called Fashion Design for Beginners.

Every Saturday he cycled or took the Tube three stops to join 17 other students from 10am to 4pm on the intensive 10-week course.

The college’s list of illustrious ­graduates reads like a Who’s Who of British art and fashion including punk maverick Malcolm McLaren, designers ­Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Stella McCartney, whose clothes Gareth collected.

Gareth also enrolled on an arts evening class as part of a secret life away from ­being a spy.

The macabre discovery of his body prompted a massive police inquiry in which murder or ­manslaughter were two prominent theories.

But officers are now working on the basis that the death was a bizarre ­accident NOT related to a sex game – and was not foul play.

A source close to the investigation said: “Gareth was exceptionally ­talented at what he did and took it very ­seriously. Alongside cycling, fashion and art was a big obsession of his.

“It was typical of Gareth to throw everything he had into a project so certainly one avenue we are now ­looking at is whether he was experimenting with his art work. It would make a lot of sense.

“We’re still looking at whether anyone else was there at the time of his death and continue to appeal for more ­information, but it is looking more like a tragic, freak accident than a ­murder.”

The spy’s death posed awkward ­problems for police because his body had no sign of injury and post-mortems found no cause of death.

His blood was checked for poisons and he was even checked for exposure to radioactive elements such as ­Polonium-210, which was used to ­assassinate former Russian spy ­Alexander Litvinenko.

Gareth, from Holyhead, Anglesey, had been living at the £1million flat while on secondment to MI6.

He was working on encrypted ­computer systems used to analyse ­international intelligence on suspects ranging from al-Qaeda to cyber-terrorists attacking the banking system. As they investigated his death, ­detectives searched his belongings and found £15,000 of untouched women’s ­designer clothes and shoes, still in their wrapping, from high-end labels including Diane von F├╝rstenberg, Christian Louboutin and Stella McCartney.

His laptop computer had been used to access websites linked to bondage ­practices and there were unfounded reports that £18,000 had gone missing.

A man and woman of “Mediterranean appearance” were also hunted after being seen entering the building but have never been found, causing some to suggest they were either agents of a foreign power sent to kill Gareth or involved in sex games with him.

It was discovered that it was possible for someone of Gareth’s size and trim build to climb into the bag and padlock the zip shut from inside.

The source said the laptop, on which Gareth stored his coursework, led them to quiz his college tutor Cheryl Eastap about the module she was teaching and whether her pupil might have gone beyond the boundaries of what was expected. It hasn’t been suggested Ms Eastap instructed her students to take part in any dangerous experiments.

The police source added: “It’s most likely he was using the dresses as part of his studies, rather than being a cross-dresser. He had also visited websites linked to bondage although he may have simply been looking up ways to lock himself up and then unlock himself.”

One of the fellow pupils on Gareth’s course said the spy was not known to be gay and had a series of girlfriends.The student added: “Gareth was ­passionate about clothes and everyone assumed this is what he wanted to do as a career.

“No-one knew he was a spy or ­working for MI6 but he was very polite and quiet. He was extremely clever, good at what he was doing and had clearly ­researched his subject.

“The police came to the college and took all the work he had produced for the course and any projects he was involved in.”

The brochure for the course says: “We will cover the basics of fashion design including inspiration, ­research, developing your ideas, figure illustration and portfolio preparation.”

Ms Eastap confirmed she had been questioned by police over the ­possible links between his death and a project called Living Spaces.

However, she insisted the death must have been caused by ­something, or someone, else.

She said: “The police did come to see me. The idea that his death and his work on the course was linked is a crazy idea that the police dreamed up. They said it might relate to it but I can’t see how it relates at all.”

Last month Sian Lloyd-Jones, Gareth’s childhood sweetheart and best friend, said he often bought her designer clothes and that all those found in his flat were a size 6 or 8. They would not have fitted him but may have been intended for her or his ­sister.

She added: “He was really open with his friends and family about his ­personal life and I truly believe if he had any interest in homosexuality he would have spoken to his sister and to me as well.

“I’m not in denial and nor are ­Gareth’s mum, dad or sister. It would have been fine if he was but he had too much ­interest in women.”

s.boniface@sundaymirror.co.uk

The First Post : Did spy Gareth Williams die in bizarre art accident?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Did spy Gareth Williams die in bizarre art accident?
[or here]

Police now believe MI6 man zipped himself in holdall as art project

By Eliot Sefton | January 16, 2011

In a theory which seems so totally bizarre it might just be true, police now believe MI6 officer Gareth Williams zipped himself into a holdall in the bath in his flat as research for an art project - but suffocated before he could get out again.

A GCHQ codebreaker on secondment to MI6, where his work made him privy to highly classified anti-terrorism material, Williams was found dead on August 23 last year in a government safe house where he had been living.

At least a week after he had last been seen alive, his body was discovered in a North Face holdall in the bath at his top-floor apartment in Pimlico, a short walk from MI6 headquarters.

Problematically for investigators, no cause of death could be determined. Theories about Williams's death have since ranged from polonium poisoning by foreign agents to bizarre sex games gone wrong.

Now, the Sunday Mirror says, police have come up with the strangest theory yet.

Investigation of Williams's laptop revealed he had paid £695 to join a 10-week part-time course at Central St Martin's College in London titled Fashion Design for Beginners.

St Martin's is an illustrious place to study fashion, with alumi among the world's top designers, including Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Stella McCartney - so it is evident that the thorough codebreaker had done his research and was serious about the course.

The fashion course also explains the presence of £15,000-worth of designer dresses, including some by Stella McCartney, and pairs of shoes in Williams's flat. It had earlier been claimed he was a cross-dresser - though the clothes were still wrapped.

Police also discovered Williams had visited bondage websites on his laptop. The new theory suggests there may have been no sexual motive for this.

A police source told the newspaper: "He had also visited websites linked to bondage although he may have simply been looking up ways to lock himself up and then unlock himself."

Why? Because, police believe, he had been given a project by his St Martin's tutor titled 'Living Spaces'.

They now think the holdall may have been an attempt by Williams to research a project on exactly how little living space it is possible to exist in - research that went horribly wrong when the fit 31-year-old found himself trapped and suffocated in the August heat.

The theory is so bizarre it's tempting to believe it: and it certainly should provide comfort for Williams's family, who have made public their dismay at the suggestion he was leading secret double life as a cross-dressing, gay, bondage enthusiast.

Williams's close friend Sian Lloyd-Jones said last month: "It would have been fine [by us] if he was [gay] but he had too much ­interest in women.

"He was really open with his friends and family about his ­personal life and I truly believe if he had any interest in homosexuality he would have spoken to his sister and to me as well."

But at least one person close to story seems to find the new theory less than convincing: Williams's fashion tutor, Cheryl Eastap. She told the newspaper: "The police did come to see me.

"The idea that his death and his work on the course was linked is a crazy idea that the police dreamed up. They said it might relate to it but I can’t see how it relates at all."

And security analysts reacted with extreme scepticism to the suggestion that Williams could have zipped himself into the holdall when it was first mooted in September. At the time it was thought he had zipped himself in for sexual reasons.

But if the theory is bunk, where did it come from? Could it be a clumsy attempt to atone to Williams's family and friends for the earlier slurs - while the truth of his death remains an espionage-shrouded mystery?