Vancouver Sun : Don't confuse him with James Bond: U.K. spy in a bag ‘killed himself by accident’

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Don't confuse him with James Bond: U.K. spy in a bag ‘killed himself by accident’

By Tom Whitehead | The Daily Telegraph | November 13, 2013

The MI6 spy found dead in a bag three years ago most likely locked himself inside, police are expected to announce Wednesday.

A fresh Scotland Yard review of the so-called “spy in a bag” case has concluded that Gareth Williams was able to climb into a sports bag unaided and there is little evidence of foul play, The Daily Telegraph understands.

The findings will contradict the conclusions of a coroner who last year said Williams had “probably” died at the hands of another.

It also raises the prospect of police closing or scaling back the investigation and ending, at least officially, the mystery that has prompted so many conspiracy theories.


The naked, decomposing body of Williams, a codebreaker on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency, was found in a padlocked sports bag in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, London, in August 2010.

Despite an intensive police investigation, no one has been arrested and the circumstances surrounding his death have remained a mystery.

Following an eight-day inquest last year, coroner Dr. Fiona Wilcox concluded that Williams was probably “unlawfully killed” in a criminal act, after experts found it impossible to climb into a similar bag and lock it unaided.

Wilcox said his death most likely involved a third party and that he was either poisoned or suffocated.

She also said the possibility that a member of the intelligence services was involved in the math prodigy’s death remained a “legitimate line of inquiry” for police.


The Metropolitan Police announced an urgent review of the case in the wake of the coroner’s findings, including concerns over how some evidence was handled by MI6 and counter-terrorism officers during the two-year investigation.

But it is understood the review has concluded that it was possible for Williams, whom the inquest heard had an interest in escapology, to lock himself in the bag unassisted, and that this was the most likely scenario.

A senior Whitehall source said: “It seems as though the coroner made a mistake in ruling out evidence that Williams could have climbed into the holdall without outside help.

“If it can be demonstrated that Williams was able to climb into the holdall unassisted, then all the other fanciful conspiracy theories start to fall apart.”


On behalf of the coroner, two experts tried 400 times to lock themselves into the bag, and one claimed that even Harry Houdini “would have struggled” to squeeze himself inside.

But days after the inquest, a retired Army sergeant showed how it was possible to climb into a similar North Face bag and lock it from the inside.

The renewed investigation involved officers reinterviewing MI6 officers and taking their DNA samples.

However, The Daily Telegraph disclosed last year how detectives increasingly believed Williams probably locked himself in the bag and died accidentally.

Detectives were able to repeat the sergeant’s experiments with the lock in different positions, which matched how Williams was found.

A source close to the inquiry said at the time: “They have been unable to find any trace of anyone who should not have been in the flat, and have every reason to believe that Gareth may have climbed into the bag himself and had been unable to get out.”

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