This Is Somerset : MI6 opens up to police for inquiry into spy's mystery death

Friday, September 14, 2012

MI6 opens up to police for inquiry into spy's mystery death

Western Daily Press | September 14, 2012

Police investigating the death of a spy whose body was found in a holdall are in direct contact with the head of MI6, a senior officer has said.

There is a "very good line of communication" with the intelligence service over Cheltenham-based Gareth Williams' mysterious death but the investigation remains "tricky", Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said.

The codebreaker was found naked in the bag in the bath at his flat in central London in August 2010, and no significant progress has been made in finding out how he died, but Mr Rowley said police are still "working on the basis that we expect there was somebody else present".

Earlier this year, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe ordered that detectives must have direct contact with MI6.

Investigators were previously forced to involve counter-terror colleagues in an attempt to obtain statements and evidence but Mr Hogan-Howe was angered by delays.

Mr Rowley said: "On the one hand, of course you need to respect national security and on the other hand, you need to do a thorough investigation.

"Squaring that circle is a challenge and what we've learned is that the way we tried to square that circle in the first stage of the investigation was not quite right."

In May, coroner Fiona Wilcox said that 31-year-old Williams was "probably" killed and that she was sure someone else locked him in the bag.

But she said it is "unlikely" that the mystery would ever be solved because of mistakes by investigators.

Dr Wilcox said several factors hampered inquiries, such as breakdowns in communication by her own coroner's office, a DNA mix-up by forensics and the late submission of evidence by MI6 to police.

She also questioned why details of Mr Williams's private life were leaked to the press. It was suggested he had an interest in bondage and drag queens.

Mr Rowley said the fitness enthusiast, originally from Anglesey, North Wales, was difficult to understand.

"Williams is a challenging guy to understand, his personal life and his circumstances, his history," he said.

"People can come to their own conclusions."