Daily Mail : Body in the bag MI6 spy Gareth Williams and his mystery links to Kazakh oligarch

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Body in the bag MI6 spy Gareth Williams and his mystery links to Kazakh oligarch

* Gareth Williams 'in contact with Furkat Ibragimov, son of Kazakh billionaire'
* Ibragimov's father involved in oil and mining and in world's top 400 richest
* Police 'probing claims Williams could have been asked to befriend Ibragimov'
* Codebreaker mysteriously found dead in central London flat in August 2010

By Mark Duell | December 30, 2012

The 31-year-old MI6 spy found dead inside a locked bag in his flat was in contact with a Kazakh oligarch’s son before his mysterious death, it was claimed today.

Gareth Williams - whose naked and decomposing body was found in August 2010 in Pimlico, central London - was allegedly in touch with Furkat Ibragimov, 25, the son of a billionaire from Kazakhstan.

Police are said to be probing their relationship amid claims that Mr Williams could have been encouraged by British intelligence forces to befriend Mr Ibragimov in the months before he died.

Officers have re-questioned Mr Williams’s friends and family, reported The Sunday Telegraph. It was also revealed today that the spy was engaged in more MI6 field work than previously thought.

There is no suggestion Mr Ibragimov - whose father Alijan is one of the world’s 400 richest people - played a part in the death. But it’s not known whether detectives have yet spoken to father or son.

Alijan Ibragimov is known in Kazakhstan as part of the ‘Trio’, along with business partners Alexander Mashkevich and Patokh Chodiev, who are behind an empire of oil, gas, mining and banking.

His London-based son Furkat Ibragimov, who invests in oil, had a mutual friend with Mr Williams of Missa Elizabeth Guthrie, daughter of a US tycoon. She befriended the spy in the year before he died.

Miss Guthrie had shared a flat with Mr Williams’s school friend Sian Lloyd-Jones, a fashion stylist.

Secret court papers revealed that Furkat Ibragimov and Miss Guthrie were friends and business partners - and that she allegedly asked Mr Williams if he could make a fake degree certificate.

But she told the inquest into Mr William’s death that he had ‘never mentioned’ Mr Ibragimov, reported The Sunday Telegraph. Last week police claimed the spy probably locked himself inside the bag.

The inquest found he could have been the victim of foul play, as the coroner expressed doubts that he could have locked the bag himself.

However, investigators discovered that it is possible to lock the type of holdall he was found in from the inside, and now say it is likely that no one else was involved in Mr Williams' death.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox ruled earlier this year that it was unlikely Mr Williams could have locked himself into the holdall which contained his body and whose keys were also locked inside the bag.

Experts testified that they had tried to lock themselves inside the bag more than 400 times, and said even famed escapologist Harry Houdini would have had difficulty doing so.

But just a few days after Dr Wilcox delivered her verdict, a retired sergeant revealed that the feat was possible, casting doubt on the assertion that someone else must have been involved in the death.

Police refined the experiment to mirror the exact way the bag had been locked - and agreed that Mr Williams could have secured the holdall himself, reported the Daily Telegraph.

The mysterious circumstances surrounding Mr Williams's death sparked speculation that he could have been assassinated by the security services.

His MI6 colleagues did not report him missing for a week, and failed to hand over key evidence from their office, which raised concerns that there could have been a cover-up.

However, others pointed to an apparent interest in bondage and cross-dressing as a more likely explanation for his death.

Mr Williams was once found by his landlord tied to his own bed wearing only underwear, while he apparently kept £20,000 worth of women's clothes in his flat.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘This remains an active investigation and officers continue to explore a number of lines of inquiry.

'Officers retain an open mind in relation to the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Williams.'

Mr Ibragimov was abroad and could not be reached. Miss Guthrie was unavailable for comment.