IOL : Cops turn to ‘spy-in-bag’ iPhone

Friday, May 04, 2012

Cops turn to ‘spy-in-bag’ iPhone

By CHRIS GREENWOOD | May 4, 2012

Scotland Yard was on Thursday preparing to overhaul the inquiry into the death of Gareth Williams as the spotlight fell on an iPhone belonging to the spy.

Police chiefs are considering replacing the officer who led the investigation from the moment the 31-year-old’s naked body was found in a bag.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire has been temporarily promoted and moved to an East London borough.

Her superiors will re-launch the case within days and could decide that a fresh pair of eyes would help to take advantage of leads thrown up by the explosive inquest into his death.

One of the main focuses of their inquiry is an iPhone found on a table in Mr Williams’s top-floor flat in Pimlico, central London.

The £500 device, one of four owned by the MI6 officer, had been restored to its factory settings, wiping it clean of almost all data, in the late evening of August 15, 2010, only hours before he died.

Doubt remains, however, about how much data is still on the phone and Mr Williams’s inquest heard that a trace of a bondage website visited in October 2009 was found on it.

The mystery deepened when the mobile phone operator told police it had not been used over the previous three months.

Despite this, investigators believe it may have somehow been used to contact whoever killed Mr Williams.

Simon Steggles, of Disklabs, which specialises in retrieving phone data for police, said it may still be possible to find clues on the iPhone.

He said: “A factory reset puts the iPhone into the same state as it would be when you first purchase it. If access to the user’s computer is available, it may be possible to recover data from a back-up.”

Police are considering whether a short video of Mr Williams dancing while wearing nothing but a pair of women’s boots may have been sent to a third-party via the phone.

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox found Mr Williams was probably unlawfully killed, getting into the bag alive but then dying from suffocation or a mystery poison.

She highlighted how police missed potentially vital clues by failing to recover his possessions from his workplace, including nine computer memory sticks.

Up to 50 MI6 and GCHQ officers now face having DNA samples taken and being interviewed by counter terrorism detectives. Dr Wilcox refused to rule out that Mr Williams was killed by someone at the intelligence agency, saying it remains a “legitimate line of inquiry”.

Murder squad detectives strongly suspect a member of the security services was in the victim’s flat on the night he died.

Detectives are also pinning their hopes on the results of forensic analysis of human traces recovered from a green hand towel.

But scientists at LGC Forensics have warned the results of low-copy testing, in which tiny traces of DNA are ‘grown’ until they can be identified, could take a further eight weeks.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said senior officers were giving “careful consideration” to any new “evidential opportunities”.

Daily Mail