The Age : Spy could have taken GHB before death

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Spy could have taken GHB before death

April 28, 2012

Traces of the date-rape drug GHB were found in the body of MI6 spy Gareth Williams, an inquest heard, as experts said they were unable to rule out poisoning.

Toxicologist Denise Stanworth said the traces found in the post mortem had probably occurred naturally, which is common shortly after death, but it was possible Mr Williams had taken the drug.

A panel of forensics experts that reviewed the post-mortem findings was unable to rule out the use of certain poisons, such as cyanide and chloroform, because the body was so decomposed, the inquest heard.

Miss Stanworth said it was unlikely Mr Williams had been given some ''old-fashioned poison'' but she could not rule out other ''volatile agents''.

The inquest at Westminster Coroners' Court has heard how Mr Williams' naked body was in a padlocked bag in his London flat for more than a week before it was discovered in August 2010.

A number of drugs and poisons were ruled out, but abuse of amyl and alkyl nitrites, such as poppers, and ''lots of substances that could have caused poisoning and death'' could not be detected nine days after death.

The inquest also heard it was impossible to tell whether Mr Williams was alive or dead when he got into the bag.

At one stage, the inquest had to be halted after a member of Mr Williams' family broke down when an MI6 manager disclosed no one had been disciplined over the errors that led to the delay in finding the body.

The meticulous timekeeper had failed to show up for work for a week and missed two meetings but only cursory attempts were made to phone him. It was finally decided he was missing on August 23.