Yorkshire Post : Evidence kept back in inquiry over spy’s death

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Evidence kept back in inquiry over spy’s death

May 1, 2012

Officials from MI6 failed to pass on vital evidence to the police concerning the death riddle of spy Gareth Williams, an inquest heard.

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.

The coroner suggested the counter-terror officer was not being “completely impartial” towards secret services during the Scotland Yard inquiry.

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

As Dr Wilcox ordered police to bring the missed evidence into the inquest into Mr Williams’s death, 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 discovered by officers under the spy’s desk at MI6’s London HQ.

MI6 also examined computer equipment belonging to Mr Williams without telling police, the inquest heard.

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

Mr Hall said “there was stuff in there 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 the existence of memory sticks in his cabinet at work or the bag.

“I would have expected to have been told,” she said. “What I knew was that Gareth’s email accounts had been checked but I did not know that other media had been checked.”

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

The body of the 31-year-old was found curled up in a padlocked holdall in the bath of his flat in London, in August 2010.

The inquest was adjourned until today when the coroner will hear final legal submissions.