Telegraph (Au): Coroner rules out unlawful death for British spy found in sports bag

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Coroner rules out unlawful death for British spy found in sports bag

Sky News | NewsCore | May 2, 2012

A CORONER investigating the death of British spy Gareth Williams, who was found dead inside a padlocked sports bag, said today there was insufficient evidence to consider a verdict of unlawful killing.

Fiona Wilcox said a narrative verdict - a short factual statement outlining the facts of the case - was the most appropriate option available to her, as an open verdict "would not do justice" to her findings.

Wilcox, who has spent seven days listening to evidence from 39 witnesses, is due to deliver her conclusion tomorrow (AEST).

Today's evidence included some surprising revelations, including the disclosure that British intelligence agency MI6 had failed to pass over some of Williams' belongings from his office to investigators.

The wide range of witnesses in the inquest began with Williams' sister Ceri Subbe, who described her brother as "a country boy" who expressed frustration with being transferred from Britain's secret monitoring site GCHQ, in southwestern England, to MI6 in London.

Friends of Williams also gave evidence, including his childhood sweetheart Sian Jones, a fashion consultant.

She, and other witnesses were asked how they could explain the fact that £20,000 ($32,428) of women's clothes and shoes were found in the apartment where Williams' body was discovered.

Jones and Subbe both told the inquest that Williams was a very generous man and that the clothes were likely to be gifts.

His family listened as other uncomfortable details about his private life were discussed. He had visited bondage websites, the court was told, but only on four occasions in two years.

The inquest was also told he had once tied himself to a bed and had to rely on his landlord to free him.

Staff at MI6, who gave evidence anonymously from behind a screen, were pressed on why it took them eight days to report Williams missing.

One MI6 officer, identified only as witness G, said he first thought Williams was stuck on a train, then thought there had been a mix up with leave dates.

The delay in reporting him missing made the task facing pathologists very difficult, and three post-mortem examinations could not establish the cause of death, the court heard.

Benjamin Swift, a Home Office pathologist, said he believed that poisoning or asphyxiation were "probably rather than possibly" to blame.

The police officer in charge of the investigation said that she believed the crux of the case surrounded the bag Williams was found in. Police still do not know how he came to be in the bag as it was locked it from the outside.