Gulf Times (Qatar) : Secret service ‘withheld’ evidence on spy’s death

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Secret service ‘withheld’ evidence on spy’s death

London Evening Standard/London | May 2, 2012

The MI6 examined memory sticks owned by “body in the bag” spy Gareth Williams without telling the police, the inquest heard yesterday.

The intelligence service did not even inform the officer in charge of the case that the memory sticks existed until yesterday — 20 months after the death. In a dramatic move as the inquest was about to conclude, the coroner ordered MI6 to send another senior officer to court to be questioned.

A witness, known as SIS D, was summoned to give evidence anonymously. He will be the fourth witness from the intelligence service granted such protection on the grounds of national security.

Westminster coroner Fiona Wilcox also revealed she had only just been informed that a second North Face sports holdall had also been found in Williams’s office at MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall Cross. Even though the bag was similar to the one his body was found inside, it was not seized by police and no inventory taken of its contents.

MI6 made its own inventory of all Williams’s belongings in his office but did not pass it to the police until Monday. Mobile phones and laptops found in the code breaker’s Pimlico flat were taken by the police.

But police were unaware of the existence of “nine assorted memory sticks” in his locker at his MI6 office.

Detective chief inspector Jackie Sebire, the senior investigating officer, told the court that she had been unaware that any of Williams’s electronic media had been examined before it was passed to the police.

“I was not surprised that memory sticks were found but I would have expected the relevant information to be sent to our team,” she said.

She agreed that she should have been informed about the memory sticks back in August 2010, when Williams died. The second holdall has now been requested by the police and will be produced in court.

Detective Colin Hall told the court he had been taken to Williams’s office by his superintendent Michael Broster, and two MI6 officers. He said that it was Broster who told him not to take the bag found under Williams’s desk but to search it and then leave it. Asked by the coroner if he did not think such a bag was relevant, he replied: “He was a superintendent and I’m a detective and I do what I’m told.” The inquest continues.