Scotsman : Gareth Williams inquest: MI6 and police ‘failed to disclose clues’

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Gareth Williams inquest: MI6 and police ‘failed to disclose clues’

May 2, 2012

MI6 and a senior detective have been accused of failing to disclose vital evidence in the death riddle of code-breaker Gareth Williams.

A coroner suggested on Tuesday that the counter-terrorism officer was not being “completely impartial” towards the secret services during the Scotland Yard inquiry.

Detective Superintendent Michael Broster was criticised after his assistant was told he had offered evidence as “helpful as a London pea-souper” at the inquest into Mr Williams’ death.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox and the family’s lawyer both delivered angry outbursts after it emerged that nine computer memory sticks and a black bag were overlooked for 21 months after the death.

The lead detective on the case was told about the evidence only on Monday.

Dr Wilcox told DS Broster, who was unable to rule out MI6 involvement in the death, that he was offering “total non-sequitur” reasons for failing to pass on evidence.

“I suggest that this means you have not been completely impartial in this case,” she told him at Westminster Coroner’s Court.

As Dr Wilcox ordered police to bring the missed evidence into the inquest, family barrister Anthony O’Toole told police they had not taken the incident seriously enough.

The lawyer said: “If this had not involved SIS [Secret Intelligence Service] and it was the Kray twins you were investigating, you would have gone into this in far more detail.”

The North Face bag – similar to the one in which Mr Williams was found dead at his flat – was found by officers under his desk at MI6’s London HQ.

Members of Mr Williams’ family shook their heads as Detective Constable Colin Hall, of the force’s counter-terrorism SO15 branch, said his search of the Vauxhall HQ was called off shortly after the code-breaker was found dead.

DC Hall said “there was stuff of a sensitive nature” in the bag, but when asked what, he said he could not remember. Mr O’Toole added: “That’s about as helpful as a London pea-souper.”

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, the lead officer on the case, said she had no knowledge of memory sticks in his cabinet at work or of the bag.

She said: “I would have expected to have been told.”

DC Hall was ordered to re-examine the black bag in the courtroom as the inquest heard its last day’s evidence.

Fitness enthusiast Mr Williams, 31, was found naked, curled up in a padlocked holdall in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London, on 23 August, 2010.

The inquest was adjourned until Wednesday. when the coroner will hear final legal submissions before delivering her verdict.