Wales Online : Lawyer of dead Welsh spy Gareth Williams' family claims he was gagged at inquest

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lawyer of dead Welsh spy Gareth Williams' family claims he was gagged at inquest

Anthony O'Toole believes there has been a security cover-up over Mr Williams' death after police yesterday insisted his death was probably accidental

By WalesOnline | November 14, 2013

The parents of spy Gareth Williams whose body was found in a bag rejected police claims yesterday that his death was accidental.

And their lawyer has said he was gagged at the 2012 inquest. Anthony O’Toole told the Daily Mirror there had been a security services cover-up, adding: “My suggestion is that the dark arts were involved.”

The body of MI6 codebreaker Gareth Williams, a 31-year-old maths genius, was found inside a padlocked sports holdall in a bath at a central London safehouse in August 2010.

It is believed he had been dead for more than a week.

Yesterday it was claimed that his grieving parents, Ian and Ellen, have been prevented from finding out the truth about how he died.

Mr O’ Toole, the family’s lawyer, revealed yesterday that he was banned from grilling an MI6 agent during the original inquest last year.

He said he was prevented from asking a key question of Mr Williams’ line manager – known only as Agent G – on how secret service officers could have entered his apartment.

Mr O’Toole said: “I was not allowed by the coroner to say to the spook, ‘You know how to get into the flats without keys, don’t you?’ I was told it was contrary to national security.”

He added: “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.”

Mr O’Toole spoke out as Mr Williams’ family rejected a statement from Scotland Yard yesterday stating that his death was “probably an accident”.

The claim, following an 18-month review of the investigation, contradicts the findings of last year’s inquest, which pointed to the likely involvement of a “third party”.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox said in a narrative verdict that she was “satisfied that on the balance of probabilities that Gareth was killed unlawfully”.

His family fear that spies gained access to his apartment and removed crucial evidence before police found the body.

In a statement they said: “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.

“We note that the investigation has been conducted with further interviews upon some of the witnesses who gave evidence at the inquest, and that the investigation team were at last able to interview directly members of GCHQ and SIS.

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

They said they were “disappointed” over the failure of MI6 to make inquiries “concerning Gareth’s welfare” when he failed to show up for work.

The family added: “We believe that if proper steps had been taken in the same manner as any reasonable employer further information relating to the cause of his death might have become apparent and not have been lost due to the length of time before Gareth’s body was found.

“This lack of concern for Gareth’s well-being remains an overriding feature of our thoughts following the death of a dear son and brother.”

The initial police inquiry concluded, like the inquest, that someone else was probably present. But in a dramatic U-turn yesterday, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said: “The Metropolitan Police’s position is that, on balance, it is a more probable conclusion that there was no other person present when Gareth died.”

But he admitted: “The reality is that for both hypotheses, there exist evidential contradictions and gaps in our understanding.”

Mr Hewitt said detectives still could not explain why none of Mr Williams’ DNA was found on the padlock of the holdall or why his palm prints were not on the rim of the bath. They also don’t know why the heating had been left on in the flat despite it being summer.

Up to 15 unidentified DNA samples were recovered from the flat, but there was no positive evidence of a third party being present at the time of death.

Mr Hewitt insisted it was “beyond credibility” that Scotland Yard had been duped by MI6 and GCHQ as part of a cover-up.

He said: “I do not believe that I have had the wool pulled over my eyes. I believe that what we are dealing with is a tragic unexplained death.”

He admitted mistakes had been made during the original inquiry including the failure to access Mr Williams’ MI6 vetting and personnel files for two years.