Southwest Business : Family of GCHQ officer Gareth Williams say 'questions over our son’s death left unanswered'

Friday, November 15, 2013

Family of GCHQ officer Gareth Williams say 'questions over our son’s death left unanswered'

by Aled Thomas, reporter, Gloucestershire Echo | November 15, 2013

The family of Gareth Williams, the GCHQ officer found dead in his London flat three years ago, say they have been prevented from properly investigating the circumstances of his death.

The Metropolitan Police issued a report following further inquiries into Dr Williams’ death which concluded that he was probably alone when he died.

Previously an inquest had decided that another person, or persons, were probably involved, as the mathematician was found locked, from the outside, in a large holdall in the bath of his flat in Pimlico.

Dr Williams was a few days from the end of a three-year secondment to MI6 in London, and was due to return to GCHQ in Cheltenham.

But the lawyer for his parents, Ian and Ellen Williams, has revealed that he was prevented from asking the questions he wanted of an MI6 agent at the original inquest last year.

Anthony O’Toole told the Mirror he wanted to question the MI6 officer, known as Agent G, about how staff from the Secret Intelligence Service could have entered Dr Williams’ flat, adding: "I was not allowed by the coroner to say to the spooks, ‘You know how to get into flats without keys, don’t you?’ I was told it was contrary to national security.

"My suggestion is that the dark arts were involved and there was a curious lack of evidence in there – almost like it had been swept clean."

Although the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner Martin Hewitt said the new investigation led to the conclusion that Dr Williams probably died alone, he admitted there were large gaps in the evidence.

"The reality is that for both hypotheses there exists evidential contradictions and gaps in our understanding," he said.

It was not explained why Dr Williams’ DNA was not found on the padlock closing the holdall, or why his palm prints were not on the rim of the bath.

Another 15 DNA samples which remain unidentified were recovered by police from the flat.

It has emerged that during the original police inquiry officers were not able to access the security vetting files on Dr Williams because liaison between detectives and the security services was conducted through the counter-terrorism squad.

But in the latest investigation, 27 people from MI6 and GCHQ were interviewed. DAC Hewitt denies the security services were involved in either Dr Williams’ death, or covering it up.

"I do not believe that I have had the wool pulled over my eyes," he said. "I believe that what we are dealing with is a tragic unexplained death."