International Business Times : James Bond? Gareth Williams Did Not Get Into Bag Alone Say Experts

Monday, November 18, 2013

James Bond? Gareth Williams Did Not Get Into Bag Alone Say Experts

By Sigrid Salucop | November 18, 2013

Experts say the MI6 spy found dead inside a holdall did not get inside the bag alone. The experts reportedly tried but failed to recreate what police claim happened to British spy Gareth Williams according to the Telegraph.

Williams, who worked as a codebreaker for GCHQ before his stint with MI6, could not have placed himself inside the bag without the assistance of another person, and zipped up the same bag while inside it. Witnesses who worked with the experts reportedly claim that the task was attempted around 400 times but no one was able to recreate it.

Mr Williams was found in the bath in August 2010, naked and already decomposing. The handles of the bag when found was closed with Velcro, reports say. There was reportedly no sign of struggle.

According to the Telegraph, Mr William's DNA was not found on the holdall and there was also no sign of his DNA on the bath. Mr Williams was reportedly not wearing gloves.

The Police Conclusion

Despite how mysterious it is for the MI6 spy to have gotten inside the bag alone without leaving DNA evidence, the police concluded that Gareth Williams got into the holdall himself.

A confined spaces experts William MacKay says that someone else was in the room the day Mr Williams placed himself or was placed inside the holdall. MacKay said, "When you put the forensic evidence together with the other evidence the likelihood that one person could do it is slim."

For the inquest, Mr MacKay and a yoga expert attempted to recreate the scene. Reports say that although the expert was able to get inside the holdall, it was not possible for the bag to be closed from the inside.

Peter Faulding, like Mr MacKay, believes that Williams was not alone in the bath. Faulding believes, according to reports, that what happened to the British spy points toward murder. He added that the London flat's heating was turned up even though the event happened midsummer of 2010.

The doorknob to the bath was removed according to evidence and Gareth Williams's iPhone was wiped.

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Voice of Russia : Second Thoughts: British intelligence and damage containment

Monday, November 18, 2013

Second Thoughts: British intelligence and damage containment

The discovery of a British MI6 agent naked inside a padlocked bag in his bath; the death in London of a former Russian security services officer by polonium 210 poisoning; ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden; and the death – apparently by suicide – of a UK-based Russian oligarch, have something in common, says VoR’s Jim Ensom.

November 18, 2013

The body in the bag

Gareth Williams was a bright, good-looking, fit and healthy code breaker working for the British surveillance centre GCHQ on secondment to the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

Three years ago, he was found dead inside a padlocked holdall in his bath. At his inquest, the coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, delivered a narrative verdict saying: “The cause of his death was unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated. I am therefore satisfied that on the balance of probabilities Gareth was killed unlawfully.”

She had heard from experts who had repeatedly failed to padlock themselves into bags identical to his holdall. One expert said escapologist Harry Houdini "would have struggled" to pull off the feat.

The coroner said that Williams’ iPhone had been mysteriously wiped of all data just hours before he died in August 2010.

She also said that the forgetfulness of some employees at MI6 “stretched probability”.

Police disagree with coroner

This week, however, the Metropolitan Police – having re-opened its own investigation – had concluded that Williams had died by accident by climbing naked into the holdall and padlocking it from the outside during some strange ritual.

"My personal view at the end of the investigation is that what happened was an accident," Martin Hewitt, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, told reporters.

"I am convinced that Gareth's death was in no way related to his work."

He admitted that several "odd" factors remained - notably the fact that no DNA was found on the padlock, and there were no handprints on the bathtub.

But Hewitt said police were satisfied that it was "theoretically possible" for a man to lock himself in the bag.

"The point is that we're satisfied that theoretically you could achieve that," he told reporters.

"Gareth's physical stature, Gareth's strength - my belief is that it would have been possible for him to do that."

"Most of the fundamental questions in relation to how Gareth died remain unanswered," he said.

"It is unlikely that his death will ever be satisfactorily explained."

MI6 “always has been, and always will be, very, very secretive” - Dorril

Dr Stephen Dorril is the author of MI6: 50 Years of Special Operations. He says: “Even if MI6 had no involvement in the mysterious death of Gareth Williams, it would still have an interest in covering up the circumstances”.

Writing in the Mirror this week, he said MI6 has always tried to keep its work away from public scrutiny.

“It has a history of not releasing documents, not co-operating with inquiries fully. So people are entitled to be suspicious of any information that does come out. And it doesn’t want people digging too deeply into the actual work Gareth Williams was engaged in.

“He operated in an area involving GCHQ and its liaison with MI6, and probing questions would lead on to the sensitive nature of these operations, particularly in the light of the Edward Snowden revelations”.

"We know from the former CIA man’s leaks how important GCHQ is to British intelligence gathering and that there is extensive monitoring of emails, phones and every kind of digital traffic".

Snowden, an employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton at the National Security Agency (NSA), disclosed that the US National Security Agency was tapping internet data globally under a programme called PRISM and that the UK’s surveillance agency, GCHQ, had access to it under a programme called Project Tempora.

Litvinenko, British intelligence and his death

Alexander Litvinenko was an officer of the Russian FSB security service, who, in 1998 accused the Russian authorities of conspiring to assassinate the tycoon Boris Berezovsky. Litvinenko was arrested on charges of exceeding his authority and acquitted in 1999. He was re-arrested in 2000, but again the charges were dropped. He was dismissed from the FSB.

He left Russia and was granted asylum in the United Kingdom where he worked as a journalist and for the British intelligence services.

On November 1, 2006 at 3.30pm he met Mario Scaramella, a security consultant and academic nuclear expert, in the Itsu suchi bar in Piccadilly.

An hour later, he met two Russian men – Dmitry Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoy, both ex-FSB officers – in the Millennium Hotel.

Litvinenko complained of illness that evening and was admitted to hospital. He suffered a slow and agonising death from radioactive polonium-210 poisoning.

He died in University College Hospital on November 23, 2006. Seven years on, his inquest proper has yet to begin.

No inquest, no public inquiy

Sir Robert Owen, Her Majesty’s Assistant Coroner for Inner North London, has said he is having some difficulty starting an inquest into Litvinenko’s death because the Foreign Office is invoking every legal action it can to prevent MI5 and MI6 evidence being heard.

Sir Robert had previously told the inquest that his request for a public inquiry – which would have been able to hear some evidence in camera (closed court) – had been turned down.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, had invoked Public Interest Immunity to prevent the testament of the security services – MI5 and MI6 –being heard at the inquest. Under the rules, a coroner has no right to hear that evidence.

However, Sir Robert had appealed for the inquest to be turned into a public inquiry which would have been able to 'hear' the evidence, but not necessarily in public.

That was denied by the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling MP, a conservative politician who sits in David Cameron's cabinet alongside William Hague.

The Litvinenko family called for a judicial review of the refusal, saying it showed "utter contempt".

That judicial review request has yet to be heard.

Berezovsky’s death and the silence that followed

Boris Berezovsky, the self-made billionaire – said to be worth $3 billion – was a former academic who built his fortune with investments in oil, cars, aluminium, and the media.

He played an integral part in Vladimir Putin’s rise to power in 2000. However, he fell from favour following a crackdown on many oligarchs for tax evasion. Berezovsky fled to England in 2000, where he lived until his death.

He was found dead in his bathroom at his mansion in Mill Lane, Ascot, west of London on Saturday March 23, 2013.

Friends of Boris Berezovsky have claimed that the Russian oligarch was strangled to death despite a post-mortem examination which showed no sign of a struggle and that he died with a ligature around his neck, consistent with hanging.

The inquest was opened and adjourned on March 28, after a brief police statement in which a spokesman confirmed: “The results of the post-mortem examination, carried out by a Home Office pathologist, have found the cause of death is consistent with hanging. The pathologist has found nothing to indicate a violent struggle”.

The inquest proper into Berezovsky’s death has – like Litvinenko’s – yet to get underway.

Officially, the police are still awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

Police sources have told me that the length of time between his death and the start of his inquest – supposedly in the new year – is unusual and cannot be put down to toxicology results, which would normally be available within 48 hours, or in the case of very specialised testing, four to six weeks.

What a state of affairs

We will probably never know how MI6 operative Gareth Williams died, naked in the padlocked bag.

Nor who killed Alexander Litvinenko, as the British government is doing the best it can to stymie the coroner’s inquest and made a political decision to turn down a public inquiry.

The death of Boris Berezovsky remains a mystery, especially as the police seem to think it was a straightforward suicide by hanging. Still no inquest.

But this is Britain for you. If you can keep a secret, you keep it in the bag.

(Voice of Russia)