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”.