FOX (TX) : MI6 kept belongings of British spy found dead in sports bag, court hears

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

MI6 kept belongings of British spy found dead in sports bag, court hears

Sky News | May 1, 2012

LONDON -- The police officer in charge of the investigation into the death of a British spy found in a padlocked sports bag said Tuesday she was unaware that nine memory sticks and a similar bag were found among his belongings at the intelligence agency MI6's headquarters.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, appearing for the second time at the coroner's hearing into Gareth Williams' death, told the central London court she did not know about the objects until early Tuesday.

"Had I known about their existence, I would have expected them to be disclosed and any relevant information to be sent to my team," she said.

Williams' naked body was found curled up inside a padlocked North Face sports bag in the bathtub of his apartment in Pimlico, central London, in August 2010.

It is not clear what relevance, if any, the memory sticks or sports bag have to the investigation into his death, but Sebire told Westminster Coroner's Court that MI6 should have told her about their existence.

The police investigation into Williams' death always has been somewhat restricted by issues of national security. For example, officers did not get direct access to some aspects of Williams' professional life.

Instead, the Counter Terrorism Command of London's Metropolitan Police -- which has specialist security clearance -- acted as a conduit between MI6 and the investigation team. It was not clear whether the command team was aware of the belongings or if the intelligence agency withheld information from that unit, too.

It also was disclosed that MI6 searched some of Williams' "electronic media" without telling the police operation.

"What I knew was that Gareth's email accounts had been checked, but I did not know that other media had been checked," Sebire said.

The hearing also heard from a detective who searched Williams' office at MI6 headquarters.

Detective Constable Colin Hall, of the Counter Terrorism Command team, said the visit to the agent's Vauxhall office was cut short on the orders of senior officers.

Hall said he did not seize the bag found underneath Williams' desk because "there was stuff in there of a sensitive nature."