Daily Mail : Did MI6 agents 'specialising in dark arts' kill spy in bag? New evidence emerges sparking fresh questions from the victim's family

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Did MI6 agents 'specialising in dark arts' kill spy in bag? New evidence emerges sparking fresh questions from the victim's family

* Gareth Williams's family believe a third party was either present when he died or broke into his home afterwards to destroy evidence
* Crime scene forensic scientist’s OWN DNA was found on Mr Williams’s hand
* Relatives wanted to know why the alarm was not raised when Mr Williams failed to turn up at work - by then his body was badly decomposed for analysis
* It also emerged that a Mediterranean couple police wanted to speak to were irrelevant to Mr Williams’s death

By Chris Greenwood | March 31, 2012

The MI6 spy whose body was found locked in a sports bag may have been killed by a secret agent, his family said yesterday.

Their barrister suggested a sinister cover-up had left them with no way of knowing how and why Gareth Williams died.

One theory is that he died at the hands of a colleague. Another is that a foreign agent killed him because of his espionage work.

The discovery of the body in his flat near the Secret Service headquarters in London sparked a 20-month police inquiry that has drawn a blank.

At a public hearing yesterday, it emerged that the flat may have been swept clean of evidence, with no fingerprints or DNA anywhere.

It was also revealed that – far from being a back-office worker – Mr Williams had just completed training for deployment on operations.

Other revelations included:

* An expert seeking signs of forced entry said he was hampered because the front door had been taken from its hinges and locks removed;
* Pathologists still cannot agree on how Mr Williams died. The 31-year-old suffered no visible injuries and could not have locked himself in the bag according to police;
* DNA found on his hand that police rated as highly significant was in fact left by a bungling forensic scientist.

The unclothed body of the super-fit maths prodigy was found in a large padlocked North Face bag in the bath of his Government-owned Pimlico flat in August 2010.

The codebreaker from Anglesey, North Wales, had links to London's bondage and gay scene and it had already been suggested a sex game, possibly with a colleague, may have had a tragic end.

But Westminster Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox was told yesterday his grieving family fear whoever is responsible expertly covered up the evidence.

Their barrister Anthony O'Toole rejected the conclusion of an internal MI6 inquiry that Mr Williams's death 'had nothing to do with his work'.

He said: 'There is a high probability that some third party was in the flat when Gareth was placed in the bag. Evidentially there seems to be no trace of an unknown party in the flat.

'Our impression is that the unknown third party was a member of some agency specialising in the dark arts or secret services.

'Or perhaps evidence has been removed from the scene post-mortem by experts in those arts.'

Mr Williams was nearing the end of a one-year secondment from the GCHQ listening station to the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, in Vauxhall, London.

Dr Wilcox was told a wide-ranging and highly sensitive police inquiry has left many questions unanswered over the circumstances of his death.

Experts believe it would have been 'difficult, if not impossible' for Mr Williams to lock himself in the bag but can find no evidence of anyone else being present.

His body was found curled in the foetal position in the 140-litre black and red holdall with the keys to the Yale travel padlock beneath him. Pathologists found no evidence of injuries or that he attempted to fight his way out. It remains possible that his dead body was put inside the bag.

Dr Wilcox said that whether Mr Williams was alive inside the bag and locked it himself 'was at the very heart of this inquiry'. She may order officials to recreate how he could have got inside it at the full inquest which is due to take place next month.

Experts have been unable to agree on exactly how Mr Williams died, favouring asphyxiation or hypercapnia, a catastrophic build-up of carbon dioxide in the blood.

Their work was hampered by the heavily decayed state of his body and his MI6 colleagues face questions over why they did not raise the alarm earlier.

It also emerged yesterday that Scotland Yard detectives spent almost 20 months pursuing a DNA trace on his body that was left by a clumsy forensic scientist.

The chief executive of LGC Forensics will be hauled before the inquest to explain the astonishing blunder which was discovered only two weeks ago.

The inquest also heard that a Mediterranean couple who called at Mr Williams's block had nothing to do with the case. Detectives released e-fits of the couple and have now traced them. They were looking for a friend's house.

The inquest heard that Mr Williams's family were unhappy about several aspects of the inquiry, including the role of counter-terrorism officers who dealt with MI6 and GCHQ staff. They have raised questions about who ordered a second post-mortem examination and what happened to Mr Williams's possessions held in a work locker.

The family also want to hear more details about the nature of his work but MI6 representatives said disclosing the information could endanger national security.

Dr Wilcox attacked police for delaying the handover of evidence and questioned why the names of some witnesses had been withheld. She said some sensitive letters had gone missing. MI6 has applied for several of Mr Williams's colleagues to give evidence anonymously and from behind screens.