Express : Family blast MI6 as police say spy died in 'bizarre accident after locking himself in bag'

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Family blast MI6 as police say spy died in 'bizarre accident after locking himself in bag'

THE family of body-in-a-bag spy Gareth Williams blasted MI6 chiefs yesterday as a Scotland Yard investigation failed to solve the mystery of his death.

John Twomey | November 14, 2013

Despite extensive inquiries, detectives can only say the codebreaker “probably” died alone in a bizarre accident.But his grieving relatives still believe the 31-year-old fitness fanatic was murdered by an unknown assassin who left his naked body padlocked inside a sports holdall in his bath.They condemned his superiors at the spy agency for failing to raise the alarm until he had been missing for 10 days.By the time his body was discovered, his corpse was already decomposing and it has not been impossible to establish a cause of death.
His family said in a statement: “We are naturally disappointed that it is still not possible to state with certainty how Gareth died, and the fact that the circumstances of his death are still unknown adds to our grief.

Her verdict prompted a renewed inquiry by Scotland Yard and a senior detective released the findings yesterday after consulting Mr Williams’s family.

For the first time, murder squad detectives have had direct access to Mr Williams’s vetting and personnel files rather than having to go through a liaison officer from the Yard’s counter-terrorism command.

Since the inquest, officers have interviewed 27 members of MI6 or GCHQ.

There is no suggestion his death is linked to his work.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said: “Despite extensive inquiries, no evidence has been identified to establish the full circumstances of Gareth’s death beyond reasonable doubt.”

But he added: “Our view is the most probable scenario is that Gareth was alone when this accident happened.”

Police suspect the spy locked himself into the red North Face holdall - possibly during a lone sex game or as an experiment in escapology - and suffocated when he could not get out.

Scotland Yard said yesterday Coroner Dr Wilcox now accepts that findings of the police and the conclusion that Mr Williams probably died alone by accident.

But there will be no new inquest and her original verdict still stands. Mr Williams’s family has previously said they believe some agency specialising in the “dark arts” is linked to his death.

They said yesterday: “We consider that, on the basis of the facts at present known, the coroner’s verdict accurately reflects the circumstances of Gareth’s death.”

A series of vital questions remained yesterday which the Yard investigation has failed to answer.

• If the spy locked himself inside the bag, why is there no trace of his DNA on the padlock?

• If he lowered himself into the bag in the bath, why didn’t he leave his palm prints on the bath rim?

• It is theoretically possible for a person to lock themselves inside into such a bag but where is the conclusive evidence that Mr Williams did so?

• Why was the heating switched on in the middle of summer?

• Up to 15 DNA traces found in the modest apartment remain unidentified so who left them?

Mr Hewitt dismissed reports that the flat had been subjected to some kind of “forensic clean” as fingermarks and DNA going back several years have been recovered.

The veteran detective also rejected the idea MI6 had “pulled the wool over his eyes” and said the spy agency had fully co-operated with the Yard.

Mr Williams, who worked for GCHQ and was on secondment to MI6, was deeply interested in women’s fashion and had a collection of women’s designer clothes worth around £15,000 in his flat.

Most of the garments were still in boxes and none of it had been worn. He had taken two college courses in clothing design.

Mr Hewitt said yesterday: “I am satisfied that the existence of the clothing has not direct bearing on the circumstances of Gareth’s death.”

Extensive examination of the spy’s phones and laptops failed to shed any light on the mystery.

Inquiries revealed Mr Williams as an intensely private person with few close friends.

But Mr Hewitt said: “The universal view of colleagues was of a conscientious and decent man with a few well known hobbies such as his cycling and climbing.

“There is no evidence of any animosity towards Gareth and it has not been possible to identify anyone with a motive for causing him harm.” Forensic work to identify the unknown DNA traces is continuing and the Yard says the case will be kept under regular review.