Gloucester Citizen : MI6 spy Gareth Williams 'tied himself to bed' inquest told

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

MI6 spy Gareth Williams 'tied himself to bed' inquest told

By This is Gloucestershire | April 25, 2012

FORMER MI6 spy Gareth Williams tied himself to his bed while lodging in Cheltenham years before his body was found in a holdall, an inquest heard today.

Mr Williams was working for GCHQ in Cheltenham when his landlord and landlady in the town discovered him with his wrists attached to the head board.

They concluded the act was “more likely to be sexual than escapology,” the hearing was told.

In a written statement read to Westminster Coroner’s Court, his landlady Jennifer Elliot described the startling scene that confronted her and her husband in the middle of the night three years before their tenant’s death.

Ms Elliot, who rented out an annex to her home to Mr Williams, said: “We were in bed and we heard Gareth shouting for help. It was about 1.30am and during winter.

“We both got up, got the spare key and opened the door to the annex.

“I called ’are you ok?’ Gareth replied ’can you help me?’

“We went upstairs and found him lying in his bed with both hands tied with material attached at the headboard.”

The spy was dressed in boxer shorts, with the bedclothes pulled over his legs, she said.

“He was very embarrassed.

“He said ’I just wanted to see if I could get myself free’.”

Ms Elliot could not describe what material he had used to tie up his wrists, she said, adding that her husband thought he had formed two loops and put his hands through them.

The couple thought the material looked taut enough to cut into the spy’s skin, the court heard.

Ms Elliot’s statement continued: “My husband said ’what the bloody hell are you doing?’ and he said ’I just wanted to see if I could get free’.

“He told my husband there was a knife on the side and my husband cut him free.

“We said ’Gareth, we can’t have you doing this’. He agreed and said it wouldn’t happen again.”

There was no repeat of the strange incident, Ms Elliot said, and she and her husband never spoke of it to anyone but each other.

“We obviously discussed it and thought it more likely to be sexual than escapology,” she added.

But apart from this, Mr Williams’s flat was always immaculate and his landlady “never saw anything of a sexual or fetish nature” there, the inquest was told.

Mr Williams’s body was found locked in a hold-all in his flat in Pimlico, London, in August 2010 but 20 months on his death still remains a mystery.

When police entered Mr Williams's flat they found some #20,000-worth of high-end women's clothing and shoes among his possessions, the inquest has heard.

A member of staff who worked at upmarket west London fashion store Dover Street Market recalled him coming in regularly and buying women’s items he said were for his girlfriend.

In her written statement, Carol Kirton said he had never mentioned his girlfriend’s name.

“He would come into the store, browse the store and I would make a suggested purchase to him,” she said.

Initially the spy would decline her suggestion but then go on to make the purchase, she said.

“He described his girlfriend as tall and slim,” she said, adding that on one occasion he had bought a Christopher Kane patent leather skirt.

“He was different from other male customers,” Ms Kirton went on.

She described Mr Williams as “shy” and “on a mission to buy an item” when he came into the store.

Elizabeth Guthrie, a friend of Mr Williams, was asked in court whether the spy had ever expressed an interest in cross-dressing.

“Nothing of a sexual bent but we were going to a fancy dress ball together,” she said.

“He was going as a ninja, not as a queen.”

She also suggested that his collection of female clothing might have been “Gareth’s attempt at a support strategy for someone. They certainly would not have been for him”.

Asked about his sexuality, she said: “I have a personal view that he was straight.”

The court also heard that it had somehow been leaked to the press that Mr Williams’s home computer showed he visited websites about claustrophilia – the love of enclosure – and bondage and sadomasochism.

Ms Guthrie revealed that Mr Williams had sometimes gone by another name, but his mystery second identity was not revealed to the court as the coroner cut short the line of questioning.

The spy’s friend was asked by Mr Williams’s family lawyer Anthony O’Toole whether Mr Williams had told her he “sometimes used another name”, to which she replied “yes”.

She added that Mr Williams used a number of different phones to call her as well.

“He wouldn’t always call me from one number and he had brought various phones around,” she said.

“It was different numbers coming in and calling me that turned out to be Gareth’s voice.”

But more often than not he would “just show up and ring the bell”, she said.

Ms Guthrie, who signed a police statement on which her name was incorrect, described a friendship with Mr Williams based on their mutual love of history, art, Japanese Manga cartoons, travel and humorous anecdotes.

Questioned by the coroner over the puzzling issue of why she had signed the police statement despite the error, she explained she had been focusing on its content rather than alternative spellings of her name.

While the pair were close friends who spent lots of time together, Ms Guthrie said she had never been to Mr Williams’s flat.

“For someone to have been brought back to his own space would have been something of note and would have implied, in my view, a very strong relationship,” she said.

“He may or may not have chosen to tell me about it but he would have told his family.”

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, the leading officer in the case, told the court yesterday she always assumed “a third party had been involved in the death or by putting the body in the bag”.