Friday, April 27, 2012


Gareth Williams may have been poisoned or drugged before being left in a sports holdall

By Cyril Dixon | April 27, 2012

MI6 officer Gareth Williams may have been poisoned or drugged before being left in a sports holdall placed in his bath, an inquest heard yesterday.

The revelation came as a secret service chief told how “profoundly sorry” spy bosses were for taking a week to realise he was missing.

Mr Williams’ superiors did nothing to trace the code-breaker for seven days after he failed to attend a meeting at MI6 headquarters.

Denise Stanworth, a toxicology expert, told the inquest that the delay meant blood and urine tests on his body were not conclusive.

She said although there was no sign of “old-fashioned” poisons, they could not be ruled out.

Although there were traces of the party drug GHB and alcohol in his blood, both were probably produced naturally after death.

“If someone had taken GHB close to the time of death you would expect the urine level to be much higher. I can’t completely rule out ingestion of GHB but it would seem unlikely.

“In my opinion it’s far more likely to be post-mortem production.”

When asked how reliable tests could be, Ms Stanworth added: “In terms of many of the drugs, reliable, but in terms of the more volatile substances, not that reliable.”

Ms Stanworth, who reviewed the toxicology, said it was “highly unlikely that he was administered with an old-fashioned poison but they cannot rule out volatile agents”. She said it was impossible to say if there were traces of the legal high poppers.

But she agreed with Westminster coroner Fiona Wilcox that if he had taken them, it “could have caused loss of consciousness or death”.

Yesterday’s apology to Mr Williams’ grieving family, including his mother Ellen Williams and sister Ceri Subbe, was delivered by a Secret Intelligence Service officer identified only as “SIS F”.

Speaking from behind a 10ft screen to protect her identity, she said: “We are profoundly sorry about what happened.

It shouldn’t have happened and we recognise that the delay in finding Gareth’s body has made it even harder for the family to come to terms with his dreadful death and we are truly sorry for that.

“I also appreciate the delay had some impact on the police investigation.”

Family members rushed out of court in tears as the apology came, and the inquest had to be adjourned while they were comforted. Anthony O’Toole, the family’s lawyer, accused MI6 of showing “total disregard for Gareth’s whereabouts and safety” after he went missing in August 2010.

Mr Williams, 31, failed to turn up on August 16 for the meeting, and his naked body was found rotting in the bag at his flat in Pimlico, central London, on August 23. He was curled up in the foetal position, and the red North Face holdall had been padlocked from the outside.

The hearing continues.