This Is Somerset : Army veteran claims to have solved spy in a bag mystery

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Army veteran claims to have solved spy in a bag mystery

May 10, 2012

Body in the bag spy Gareth Williams could have easily locked himself inside the holdall in which he died, an Army veteran claimed yesterday.

The inquest into the MI6 agent's death heard how a number of experts unsuccessfully attempted to lock themselves inside a bag up to 300 times.

But Jim Fetherstonhaugh, 49 – a sergeant in the Royal Artillery for 22 years – discovered a simple method by which a holdall can be zipped up and locked from the inside without assistance.

The technique is the reverse of a well-known trick used by airport thieves to steal from locked bags, as long as they are flexible and the sides can be pinched together.

Intrigued by the mysterious case of the MI6 agent, based at Cheltenham, he asked his daughter Izzy, 16, to climb inside an identical North Face bag to test his theory.

The teenager, who at 5ft 5in was 3in shorter than Gareth, easily fitted inside the bag in the foetal position before partially closing it.

She drew her legs up to her body and was able to draw the two zip pulls together while leaving a gap for her hands to protrude through and close the padlock.

Izzy then tensed her body and the zip simply sealed itself leaving her successfully shut inside the bag holding the key to the padlock.

But crucially, the procedure is said to be much easier in a bath where the occupant of the bag can push against the sides for assistance.

Jim, of Shrewton, Wiltshire, served around the world as a sergeant with the 33 Regiment, Royal Artillery, for 22 years until he retired five years ago and has been a reservist ever since.

He claims that, despite Mr Williams being taller than his daughter, this would not have made much difference.

He said: "The man on TV tried it 300 times and I was amazed he couldn't do it.

"I've told my friends and show them and their jaws drop – it is so obvious, maybe people are thinking too much into it.

"She is 5ft 5in and he was 5ft8in but when you're in the foetal position inside that height doesn't make much difference. She had a bit of a struggle pulling the bag but she wouldn't have been as strong as him. I could easily see that he would be able to do it. She did it on the floor and it would have been much easier for him in the bath because he could put pressure on the sides to manoeuvre himself in. Once you show people how you do it, their jaws drop. I wonder if the services do know this method – but they don't want it known."

A similar technique is known to be used to steal from locked holdalls, where the end of the bag can be squeezed together to create 'slack' in the zip. This creates enough room for an opening in the zip without unlocking the padlocks.

Mr Fetherstonhaugh contacted the Met Police via the force's 101 number and he was provided with a serial number but they have yet to respond to him. A spokesman for the force refused to comment yesterday.

The revelation raises questions over the coroner's findings, which concluded Mr Williams' death "unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated".

Mr Williams' former landlords told the inquest how they once found him handcuffed alone to a bed, suggesting he had a fetish for restraint.

Scotland Yard's commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe this week said he has ordered a review of the investigation into the death of Mr Williams.

International Business Times : MI6 Spy In The Bag Gareth Williams: Army Veteran Shows Getting Inside The Sports Bag And Locking Self Is Easy

Thursday, May 10, 2012

MI6 Spy In The Bag Gareth Williams: Army Veteran Shows Getting Inside The Sports Bag And Locking Self Is Easy

By Drishya Nair | May 10, 2012

The compelling case of MI6 spy Gareth Williams, found dead and padlocked in a bag in 2010, is yet to be solved. A veteran army officer demonstrated how Williams could have zipped himself inside the sports bag without any help and perhaps been suffocated to death.

A retired sergeant in the Royal Artillery, Jim Fetherstonhaugh, 49, says it is not only highly possible that Williams locked himself in the bag without any aid, but it is also a very simple and easy task to perform (including padlocking oneself).

Many MI6 agents, after Williams' death, tried more than 300 times to lock themselves up in similar sports bags but failed.

"The man on TV tried it 300 times and I was amazed he couldn't do it. I've told my friends and show them and their jaws drops - it is so obvious, maybe people are thinking too much into it," Fetherstonhaugh said.

But the army veteran claims to have discovered a way in which one can get inside a bag, zip it and even lock it with a padlock, without any assistance.

The technique discovered by Fetherstonhaugh is apparently the reverse of a popular trick used by airport thieves to steal from locked bags as long as they are flexible and the sides can be pinched together, reports Mail

Fetherstonhaugh, after discovering this method, called the police but has got not any response yet.

The ex-army sergeant was intrigued ever since Williams' mysterious circumstances of death hit headlines. To examine his theory, he asked his 16-year-old daughter Izzy to climb inside a similar North Face bag without any assistance.

Izzy, who stands 5ft 5ins (3ins shorter than Gareth) managed to easily fit inside the bag. She could not only draw the zip together but was also able to padlock herself.

The procedure can be carried out much more easily in a bathtub, since the occupant can push against the sides of the tub for assistance.

According to Fetherstonhaugh, when one is in a foetal position in the bag, the height of a person does not make too much of a difference, so the fact that Williams was 3 ins taller than Izzy wouldn't matter much.

"She is 5ft 5 and he was 5ft 8 but when you're in the foetal position inside that height doesn't make much difference. She had a bit of a struggle pulling the bag but she wouldn't have been as strong as him. I could easily see that he would be able to do it," the army veteran said.

Now the question arises as to why the experts were unable to do the same. It seems, according to experts, there wasn't enough room to manoeuvre when the bag was kept in the bathtub.

It has been two years since Williams' death and despite extensive investigation, the case does not seem to be getting anywhere.

Police believe that at the time of the 31-year-old's death, a member of either MI6 or GCHQ was in the flat.

At the inquest, coroner Fiona Wilcox told Westministers coroner's court that it was "highly unlikely" that Williams got inside the red holdhall on his own.

There are no foot or fingerprints from the scene of death and fifteen of Williams' colleagues have already been swabbed for DNA samples.

In a recent development in the case, a green towel from a shelf in Williams's kitchen with traces of human residue was found. It could lead to a breakthrough in the case.

Williams' former landlords had reported of an incident at the inquest about how William had once handcuffed himself to a bed alone and needed assistance to free himself later. This points to a possible fetish for restraint that Williams might have harbored.

Las Vegas Sun : UK police to take DNA from spies in body probe

Thursday, May 10, 2012

UK police to take DNA from spies in body probe

The Associated Press | May 10, 2012

Britain's top police officer says spies will be asked to give DNA samples in a bid to solve the mystery of an agent whose body was found padlocked inside a sports bag in his bathtub.

Last week an inquest concluded that Gareth Williams had probably been killed by another person in a "criminally meditated act."

Coroner Fiona Wilcox was critical of the MI6 spy agency, which failed to pass evidence to investigating police.

Williams, 31, worked for Britain's GCHQ eavesdropping service. He was attached to MI6 when his remains were found in August 2010.

Metropolitan Police Commisioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said Tuesday that detectives would conduct voluntary mass DNA screening of MI6 employees.

He said police needed to ensure "all areas of his life were fully explored."

Camden New Journal : Feature: A spook story that’s stranger than fiction

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Feature: A spook story that’s stranger than fiction

by JOSH LOEB | May 10, 2012

The death of MI6 agent Gareth Williams was not the result of a sex game.

He was not a transvestite.

And aspects of his personality suggest he may have had Asperger’s syndrome or something similar.

These are my personal views, but having attended all seven days of evidence at the inquest into his death, which concluded last week, I have more of an insight than most.

The inquest was like no other. Stairwells at Westminster Coroner’s  Court were bristling with guards wearing high-visibility vests, who eyed reporters suspiciously; and members of the public – shifty old ladies who looked like they’d read too many spy thrillers scuttled in and out.

No one knows what Gareth did for MI6; because of concerns about national security, details of his work were not divulged in court.

What everyone knows is that the 31-year-old was found dead inside a padlocked holdall in a bath at his Alderney Street flat in Pimlico on August 23, 2010.

He was naked and was lying on his back, curled up in the partial foetal position.

There were no signs of a break-in or struggle, and there was no evidence of his footprints or fingerprints on the bathroom tiles or sides of the bath.

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said Gareth’s death – his family asked for him to be referred to by his first name throughout the proceedings – was “unnatural and is likely to have been criminally mediated”.

In other words, an unknown person or persons had a hand in it, though Dr Wilcox said she believed Gareth had been complicit to some extent.

She accepted evidence from a pathologist that, given the position in which Gareth’s body was found and the lack of marks or bruising, it was virtually impossible someone could have manhandled him into the bag either after he was deceased or if he were still alive and resisting.

The evidence suggests he got into that holdall either willingly or having been coerced, and died within it. Someone else placed the lock and lifted the bag into the bath.

Gareth apparently only ever let vetted people inside his flat, so the third party was either someone he knew or someone who had entered uninvited.

So, what of the theory that he died during a sex game?

Prior to the inquest, stories appeared in the tabloids suggesting Gareth had an interest in claustrophilia, the love of confined spaces, but this was not borne out in evidence.

He had a collection of female clothing – surely an indication he liked to dress up as a woman?

Well, more likely not, actually.

From the evidence it seems pos­sible that Gareth was a high-functioning autistic, which may have made him easy to manipulate.

He had virtually no friends and was a prodigious whiz with maths and computers.

An intellectually brilliant oddball, when a subject gripped his attention, it consumed his every thought.

Such was the case with fashion. He had enrolled on a fashion course, and experts who analysed his computers said 50 per cent of his internet browsing time consisted of him looking at websites about women’s clothes.

Compare this with 0.1 per cent of the time he spent looking at sites about bondage and you hardly walk away with an image of a slavering pervert.

Tellingly, Gareth appears never to have looked at material of an outright pornographic nature. One acquaintance said: “I did not think of him as being sexual at all.”

Prior to Gareth’s latest, all-consuming interest, he had been obsessed with maps, and he was mad on cycling, of which he had an encyclopedic knowledge down to the lowest sprocket.

He also exhibited a preoccupation with cleanliness sometimes associated with obsessive compulsive disorder.

None of the women’s fashion items Gareth owned showed much evidence of having been worn.

Most were found in their packaging.

He owned no female undergarments, nor a realistic wig – the wig found at his flat was florescent orange.

All this suggests he was not a transvestite.

The annexe of Marylebone Council House, the building that hosted the inquest, is located just steps from Sherlock Holmes’s fictional home in Baker Street, but perhaps even someone of the calibre of Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective might lack the ability to unravel what has already become known as The Alderney Street Mystery.

However, what if important clues were hidden in moments that have gone unreported?

On the third day of evidence, Dr Wilcox asked “F” – one of the secret service spooks giving evidence anonymously and behind a screen – whether, if Gareth had been in contact with anyone from the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, he should have reported this to service’s vetting team. ­“F” said she could not answer for security reasons.

Cryptically, the coroner asked another witness whether Gareth had been in touch with someone by the name of Ibragimov.

And it emerged Gareth had told this witness that he would produce a fake degree certificate for a friend of hers as part of a prank.

I don’t know if these moments are of any relevance. They went unreported because they seemed to lead nowhere.

But who knows?

They might provide the army of amateur detectives now speculating about this most haunting case with another piece of the puzzle.