Guardian : Gareth Williams inquest: MI6 kept spy's possessions, court hears

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Gareth Williams inquest: MI6 kept spy's possessions, court hears

Detectives were not told about memory sticks or holdall that was found at his workplace, says the officer leading the inquiry

Caroline Davies | May 1, 2012

Memory sticks found among MI6 officer Gareth Williams's possessions in his office were examined by the Secret Intelligence Service but never handed over to detectives investigating his murder, it emerged on Tuesday.

Detectives only discovered on Monday, as his inquest drew to a close, that nine assorted memory sticks were in his locker at MI6's Vauxhall Cross offices, where he worked. The SIS also examined "electronic media" found without telling police.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, leading the murder inquiry, only knew of the memory sticks when an inventory was produced for the inquest on Monday, she told Westminster coroner Fiona Wilcox. "I would have expected to have been told," she said.

"Has your team even been given possession of these?" asked Wilcox, "No" replied Sebire. "Had I known of their existence, I would have expected them to be at least reviewed or audited by SO15, [counter-terrorism] and if information was available, then sent to my team."

She added: "What I knew was that Gareth's email accounts had been checked, but I didn't know that other media had been checked".

The naked body of the 31-year-old codes and ciphers expert, on secondment from GCHQ in Cheltenham to MI6 in London, was found in a padlocked holdall in his Pimlico flat, central London, on 23 August 2010.

The inquest has heard that because of the sensitive nature of Williams's work, counter-terrorism officers from SO15 acted as a conduit between murder detectives and the SIS.

Detective Constable Colin Hall, from SO15, said he went to the MI6 offices where Williams worked three days after his death, and was shown a shared cabinet used by Williams.

No inventory was taken of the contents of the cabinet "due to the sensitive nature of the documents," said Hall.

Nor did police seize a black North Face holdall, containing personal and work-related items, found under Williams's desk, and similar to th bag in which his body was found.

The coroner asked Hall : "Don't you think this bag should have been seized?"

Hall replied: "Probably yes, ma'am." He added: "The contents of the bag were of a sensitive nature." He said he was instructed to leave it locked "in situ".

Anthony O'Toole, lawyer for the family, asked: "If this wasn't the SIS and it was the Kray twins or someone else, you were investigating, you would have gone into far more detail, wouldn't you?"

The hearing continues.