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.