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?
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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?