Prestwich and Whitefield Guide : Spies given anonymity at inquest

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spies given anonymity at inquest

Press Association | April 23, 2012

Four intelligence agents have been given "public interest" anonymity as the inquest into the "highly controversial" death of an MI6 spy found in a holdall opened.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox said "there will be a real risk of harm" to national security and international relations if some of those giving evidence about Gareth Williams are exposed.

The only confirmed member of GCHQ who can be named is Stephen Gale, Dr Wilcox said.

Evidence began with Dr Wilcox expressing sympathy to family members, who fear "some agency specialising in the dark arts" leaves them with no way of knowing how and why he died.

The naked and decomposing body of Mr Williams, 31, of Anglesey, North Wales, was found in the bath of his home in Pimlico, central London, in August 2010. He was curled up in a large North Face holdall, sealed by a padlock.

Ceri Subbe, Mr Williams's sister, sat with other family members in the wood-panelled courtroom as evidence began.

Ms Wilcox summarised evidence heard in the pre-inquest review, including claims that Mr Williams's death may have been a cover-up by secret services.

She said none of the evidence would be heard behind closed doors despite the "highly controversial" nature of the death, and a screen will protect some of Mr Williams's spy colleagues from being identified to the court.

Scotland Yard has drawn a blank in its attempts to find out how the spy died. A battery of post-mortem tests failed to determine how he died and police originally found it would have been impossible for him to have locked himself inside the bag.

Family lawyer Anthony O'Toole has said the inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court must establish why there was no evidence of another person in his London apartment.