The First Post : Dead MI6 man: ‘private life’ not national security

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dead MI6 man: ‘private life’ not national security
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Escort agency numbers discovered on SIM card. Did a sex game go wrong?

By Jack Bremer | August 26, 2010

Police are investigating the private life of an MI6 officer whose body was found stuffed into a holdall and dumped in the bath of the flat where he had been living in London, just round the corner from the spy agency's headquarters.

Many theories have been offered by the media this morning - including murder by Islamic terrorists or even by Russian agents involved in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko four years ago. But a trusted Whitehall source has said that "national security" is unlikely to be the motive.

Gareth Williams, 31, was single. He was a cipher and codes specialist at the top-secret government listening station, GCHQ, in Cheltenham, who had been working on secondment at the MI6 headquarters for the past year.

His neighbours in Alderney Street, Pimlico said they rarely saw him.

His landlady in Cheltenham - where he was due to return on September 3 - said he was "a really nice guy... who wouldn't hurt a fly." Jenny Elliott, 71, said that in the 10 years he had been renting a one-bedroom flat in her house, she had never known him to bring a girl home.

Police went to the London flat on Tuesday night "following reports that the occupant had not been seen for some time". As well as Williams's decomposed body, they found his mobile phone and - laid out in "ritual" fashion - a number of SIM cards.

According to a Daily Mail police source, one of those cards contained phone numbers for escort agencies. Pornographic material was also found in the flat. One theory is that Williams was the victim of a risky sex game gone wrong.

Early reports yesterday that he had been stabbed, or even dismembered, have now been discounted. Results of a first post-mortem examination were inconclusive but he is thought to have been asphyxiated before his body was put in the holdall.

Williams is understood to have been recruited by the Foreign Office for a job at GCHQ in 2000, while he was taking an MA in advanced mathematics at Cambridge. He dropped out of the year-long course and started at Cheltenham in 2001.

His parents, who live in Anglesey, north Wales, were informed of his death yesterday. His uncle, William Hughes, said: "I knew he was working in London doing something. He would never talk about his work and it felt rude to ask really."

Elliott said: "He would not talk about his job as it was a secret, on account of working for GCHQ. All he told me was it was something to do with codes."