Agents ‘killed the body-in-bag spy... then got into flat through skylight to destroy evidence’: New theory could solve the mystery five years later
Gareth Williams' body was found in his London flat in August 2010
But Mail on Sunday can now reveal unknown agent may be behind death
Special footplates were moved after the first day of the investigation
Led Scotland Yard to believe someone had broken into the crime scene
By Robert Verkaik for The Mail on Sunday | published: August 15, 2015 | updated: August 16, 2015
Detectives who investigated the mysterious death of a British spy found padlocked in a bag in his flat believe he was murdered and that his killers then broke back in through a skylight to cover their tracks.
Gareth Williams, 31, was discovered in a holdall in the bath at his London home five years ago this month. Now a source at the heart of the investigation has told The Mail on Sunday that Scotland Yard detectives believe an agent from an unknown secret service broke into the victim’s flat to destroy or remove evidence.
The new claim centres on the revelation that part of the forensic equipment placed in the flat after the body was found was moved – despite the fact the building was under armed police guard.
Special footplates, which allow officers to walk across a crime scene without contaminating it, were moved after the first day of the investigation. This led Scotland Yard to conclude that someone must have scaled the building’s walls and broken in through the skylight to cover their tracks. This so far unknown line of inquiry raises questions about how Mr Williams, a maths genius and expert cryptographer, really met his end. It also supports his family’s suspicions he was murdered by ‘agents specialising in the dark arts of the secret services’.
Mr Williams had been working with the American National Security Agency in Washington before returning to London, where he underwent training and was sent on active operations.
The exact nature of his work remains a closely guarded secret, but sources claim he dealt with equipment that tracked the flow of cash from Russia to Europe.
The technology enabled MI6 to follow money trails from bank accounts in Russia to criminal European gangs. One theory is that Mr Williams had disrupted a Mafia ring closely linked to the Russian state.
Cars registered to the Russian Embassy were spotted near his Pimlico flat just days before his body was discovered on August 23, 2010.
Mr Williams was last seen alive on August 15 – a Kremlin car was seen near his property that day.
Other lines of inquiry, also dismissed by the Met at the time, were that he was killed by MI6 or American agents after stumbling on sensitive data, or because he threatened to make secret intelligence public.
There were also claims Mr Williams may have been killed by a lover during a bizarre sex game.
Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox, who heard the 2012 inquest into his death, criticised MI6 for failing to report that the spy had been missing for a week, saying this caused extra suffering for his family and led to the loss of forensic evidence. The delay, for which MI6 apologised, also meant a Home Office pathologist was unable to find a cause of death.
Dr Wilcox concluded that Mr Williams’s death was ‘unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated’. She said she was satisfied ‘on the balance of probabilities that Gareth was killed unlawfully’, as it was likely someone else had put his body in the bag and locked it.
But a year later, Scotland Yard ended a review of the investigation, saying it was more likely Williams had locked himself in the bag and that no one else was involved.
However, the latest line of inquiry supports the family’s belief that the flat was ‘steam-cleaned’ by secret agents – which may be why no DNA evidence was found. Their lawyer, Anthony O’Toole, told a pre-inquest hearing they believed a third party was present at the time of death or later destroyed evidence.
Mr O’Toole told Westminster Coroner’s Court: ‘The impression of the family is that the unknown third party was a member of some agency specialising in the dark arts of the secret services, or evidence has been removed post-mortem.’
It now appears the coroner was not told about the tampering with the footplates, or the belief by detectives that someone had broken into the building.
An intelligence source said: ‘The forensics officer was adamant that nobody was allowed in or out of the crime scene, so when he turned up the following day to find the footplates had been moved an investigation was launched. The only way anybody could have got into that building was to have scaled the walls and got in through the skylight.
‘This was never revealed as it was pretty embarrassing for the Met. Somebody appears to have broken in, perhaps cleaned up and got out again while officers were guarding the entrance to the flat.’