Channel 4 : Spy inquest ends with more questions than answers

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Spy inquest ends with more questions than answers

May 2, 2012

The coroner in the inquest of Gareth Williams says we may never know how the MI6 codebreaker whose body was found in a locked holdall met his end.

The mysterious death of MI6 agent Gareth Williams may never be be "satisfactorily explained", an inquest has concluded.

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said "most of the fundamental questions in relation to how Gareth died remain unanswered" despite a multimillion-pound police investigation.

The 31-year-old's decomposing naked body was discovered padlocked inside a large North Face bag in the bath in his flat in Pimlico, central London on August 23, 2010.

Mr Williams, from Anglesey, North Wales, was working for the foreign intelligence service MI6 as a codebreaker at the time of his death, after being seconded from the the GCHQ eavesdropping station.

Colleagues had failed to raise the alarm when he failed to turn up to work a week earlier.

Dr Wilcox said it remained a "legitimate line of inquiry" that the secret services were involved in Mr Williams's death as she criticised "shortfalls" by MI6 in passing on evidence to police.

But she said "there was no evidence to support that he died at the hands of" spies.

The coroner said she was "satisfied so that I'm sure that a third party moved the bag containing Gareth into the bath" and said it was "highly unlikely" that Mr Williams got inside his red North Face holdall alone.

She added: "If Gareth had been carrying out some kind of peculiar experiment, he wouldn't care if he left any foot or fingerprints."

Dr Wilcox recorded a narrative verdict, saying the evidence did not prove "beyond all reasonable doubt" that the spy had been killed by a third party - the standard of proof necessary for a verdict of unlawful killing.

But she told the court: "I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that Gareth was killed unlawfully."

Family's grief 'exacerbated' by MI6 failures

Mr Williams's family said in a statement: "To lose a son and a brother at any time is a tragedy. To lose a son and brother in such circumstances as have been outlined during the course of this inquest only compounds the tragedy.

"Our grief is exacerbated by the failure of his employers at MI6 to take even the most basic inquiries as to his whereabouts and welfare, which any reasonable employer would have taken.

"We are also extremely disappointed at the reluctance and failure of MI6 to make available relevant information.

"We would like to ask Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to look into and review how this investigation will proceed in light of the total inadequacies of the SO15 investigation into MI6 during the course of this inquiry."