Telegraph : Tensions building between police and spies over Gareth Williams death

Friday, May 04, 2012

Tensions building between police and spies over Gareth Williams death

MI6 fear Scotland Yard is trying to make it a scapegoat for failings in the investigation into the death of the spy found dead in a bag, senior Whitehall sources said yesterday.

By Tom Whitehead and Martin Evans | May 4, 2012

Tensions are growing between the intelligence services and police following criticism by the coroner who investigated the death of Gareth Williams.

Concluding the inquest on Wednesday, Dr Fiona Wilcox said that “on the balance of probabilities” Mr Williams was “unlawfully killed” by a mystery third party.

Dr Wilcox criticised the delays in spotting Mr Williams was missing and apparent failures in the handling of potential evidence.

She also said raised that prospect that another spy may have been involved in the death and said it was a "legitimate line of inquiry" for police.

It emerged yesterday that officers were planning to take DNA samples of up to 50 spies as the inquiry in to Mr Williams’ death continues.

A senior Whitehall source said the intelligence services were "frustrated" by the suggestion they had not co-operated fully with the police.

The 31-year-old’s naked decomposing body was discovered in a padlocked sports bag in the bath of his Pimlico home in London in August 2010.

It had been there for a week without anyone raises concerns that the spy, who was on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, had gone missing.

The inquest heard how nine memory sticks that may have belonged to the codebreaker and a bag similar to the one he was found dead in were discovered his office but never handed over to Met Police.

The coroner criticised MI6 and Det Supt Michael Broster, the head of the Met counter-terrorism team that acted as a conduit between the investigating officers and the intelligence services.

However, while MI6 has apologized for the flaws surrounding Mr Williams wellbeing, it has insisted it at no point withheld evidence.

A lawyer for the family has previously suggested someone expert in the “dark arts” of the secret service was linked to the death.

Scotland Yard refused to comment on what future inquiries may be made as a result of the review or whether there are any intentions to interview more intelligence officers.

A small number of them were originally spoken to by police but no formal statement was ever made and signed.

Forensic experts are still examining whether there is DNA on a towel found in the kitchen and hope to have a result within weeks.

An iPhone that was reset the day before Mr Williams is believed to have died also continues to be a focus for the police.

There is no evidence of any calls being made to or from it before it was effectively wiped but it was backed up to a laptop on the same day.

Dr Wilcox questioned whether it may have provided clues such as an arrangement to meet someone over the internet.

However, technology experts believe police failed to properly examine the phone because information could have been retrieved.