Sky News : Spy In Bag: MI6 Man Probably Locked Himself In

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Spy In Bag: MI6 Man Probably Locked Himself In

Police believe spy-in-the-bag Gareth Williams probably died accidentally and no-one else was involved in his bizarre death.

By Martin Brunt, Crime Correspondent | November 13, 2013

GCHQ codebreaker Gareth Williams probably died after locking himself inside his own holdall, a fresh police review of the case has found.

The naked body of the 31-year-old was discovered in the bag in his central London flat in August 2010 triggering speculation that he had been targeted by foreign agents because of his work.

However, the latest investigation by the Metropolitan Police has found that Mr Williams, who had a keen interest in escapology, probably died alone in an accident.

Detectives believe the codebreaker, who was on secondment to MI6, locked himself into a sports bag in his bath and managed to padlock it from the outside without leaving any DNA traces.

The conclusion of a 16-month Scotland Yard review reverses the view of its own original investigators who found it was "highly likely" there was third-party involvement.

And it effectively overturns the finding of a coroner who said last year that Mr Williams was probably killed unlawfully.

The inquest had heard that two experts had tried 400 times to lock themselves in a similar bag but had failed.

However, days after the inquest had finished, an Army Sergeant showed how it was possible to climb into the North Face holdall and do up the zip before padlocking it shut.

Mr Williams' family issued a statement responding to the outcome of the police investigation saying that they still felt the coroner's verdict best represented the circumstances of Mr Williams' death.

They also slammed MI6 or failing to raise concerns after Mr Williams went missing, therefore jeopardising the chances of getting information that might have helped to find the cause of his death.

The statement said: "This lack of concern for Gareth's well-being remains an over-riding feature of our thoughts following the death of a dear son and brother.

Announcing the findings on Wednesday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said the investigation had included that "on balance, it is a more probable conclusion that there was no other person present when Gareth died".

He said that suggestions police had been duped by the intelligence service because the investigation contradicted the coroner's findings were "beyond credibility" and said he had not had the "wool pulled over my eyes".

He admitted that initially restricted access to MI6, using a team of counter-terrorism police to act as a go-between for the murder squad and the security services, was "cumbersome" and meant they couldn't do the investigation as they wished.

However, he said, that had changed and officers had been given full access to details of Mr Williams' work.

He said: "Three years of extensive investigative activity have developed a very clear profile of Gareth. He was, without doubt, a private person who was very close to his family and had few other close friends. That 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."

Mr Williams was found inside the bag in the bath at his Pimlico flat on August 23, 2010.

Pathologists said he would have suffocated within three minutes of being locked inside the bag. They said that none of his DNA had been found on the lock on the bag and his palm prints were not found on the rim of the bath.

At his inquest in April last year, the coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox warned that it was unlikely the mystery of Mr Williams' death would ever be satisfactorily explained.

She said: "The cause of his death was unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated.

"I am therefore satisfied that on the balance of probabilities that Gareth was killed unlawfully."

The Metropolitan Police review into the case was launched after the inquest.