Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The death of MI6 spy Gareth Williams, whose body was found in a padlocked sports bag, was probably an accident, police have said

MI6 spy Gareth Williams death 'probably an accident', police say

Gareth WilliamsGareth Williams's body was found in his flat in Pimlico in 2010

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The death of MI6 spy Gareth Williams, whose body was found in a padlocked sports bag, was probably an accident, police have said.
Last year, a coroner said it was likely Mr Williams, 31, from Anglesey, had been unlawfully killed in August 2010.
But the Metropolitan Police said an evidence review had found "it was more probable" no other person was present when he died in his London flat.
Mr Williams's family said they stood by the coroner's findings.
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 consider that on the basis of the facts at present known, the coroner's verdict accurately reflects the circumstances of Gareth's death."
'Unlawfully killed'
Mr Williams's body was found naked at his flat in Pimlico on 23 August 2010 after colleagues raised concerns for his welfare.
He had been on a secondment with MI6 from his job as a communications officer at the GCHQ "listening post" in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

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The reality is that for both hypotheses, there exist evidential contradictions and gaps in our understanding”
DAC Martin HewitMetropolitan Police
Police discovered his body inside a zipped-up red sports holdall, in the empty bath of his bathroom.
It had taken a week for MI6 to investigate the code-breaker's disappearance, and a post-mortem examination carried out by a Home Office pathologist failed to determine the cause of death.
During a seven-day inquest in May 2012, the question of whether Mr Williams could have padlocked himself into a bag in a bath was central.
Coroner Fiona Wilcox concluded that "most of the fundamental questions in relation to how Gareth died remain unanswered".
But she said he was, "on the balance of probabilities", unlawfully killed.
At a briefing on Wednesday, the Met Police announced the conclusion of its three-year investigation into the incident.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said he was satisfied it was "theoretically possible" Mr Williams could have padlocked the bag from the inside, although "many questions remain unanswered" as to the circumstances of his death.
But he said there was no evidence that the MI6 officer had intended to take his own life or that his death was connected to his work.
'Naturally disappointed'
There were about 10 to 15 traces of DNA in the flat from which it had not been possible to gain full DNA profiles, but all other DNA profiles and fingerprints had been eliminated, said DAC Hewitt.
He also said there was no evidence that Mr Williams' flat had been forensically cleaned, adding it was a "fallacy" that it had been deep-cleaned in such a way that only certain DNA was left in the premises.
DAC Hewitt acknowledged that the coroner, having studied "all the evidence available at that stage" had made "the logical inference that it was more likely someone else was involved in Gareth's death".
"However, she also recognised that there has been endless speculation but little real evidence and it was her view [that] 'it is unlikely that his death will ever be satisfactorily explained'," he said.
"Now at the end of our investigation, based on the evidence, or where we have been unable to find positive evidence, we believe that it is a more probable conclusion that there was no other person present when Gareth died.
"But the reality is that for both hypotheses, there exist evidential contradictions and gaps in our understanding."

Death of British spy found padlocked in bag was accidental: British police

LONDON Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:28am EST
(Reuters) - A British spy, whose naked, decomposing body was found padlocked in a bag in his bathtub, probably died accidentally on his own, police said on Wednesday, rejecting conspiracy theories that his bizarre death was the work of foreign agents.
In May last year, a coroner concluded that Gareth Williams, who was working for Britain's external intelligence service MI6 when he was found dead at his home in August 2010, was probably killed unlawfully by another person.
His spy background and the fact that expensive, unworn women's clothes were found at his flat provoked a wide range of "weird and wonderful" theories, London Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said, but further investigations now suggested it was more likely he had not been murdered.
"Most probably, it was an accident," Hewitt told reporters. "I'm convinced that Gareth's death was in no way linked to his work."
Williams, 31, worked as a code breaker at the Government Communications Headquarters but was on a three-year secondment to MI6, which deals with foreign espionage matters.
The remains of the maths prodigy were found curled up inside a zipped and padlocked red hold-all at the London flat - an intelligence service "safe house" - close to MI6's headquarters.
His body was badly decomposed after remaining in the bag in the August heat for a full week until he was discovered. Tests found no traces of alcohol, drugs or poison in his body.
Detectives found no palm prints on the side of the bath nor any traces of his DNA on the padlock.
Instead, they found make-up, a long-haired wig and unworn women's clothes and shoes worth around 20,000 pounds ($31,900). They also found images of transvestites, a picture of Williams wearing only boots, and evidence of visits to sexual bondage websites on his computer.
"This is a case where there's been enormous theorizing and speculating...and weird and wonderful stories," Hewitt said.
Hewitt admitted the original police investigation had been flawed and after the inquest they pursued new lines of inquiry.
But detectives found no evidence anyone had been in the flat when he died. Hewitt rejected suggestions the flat could have undergone a "forensic clean" to remove traces of any killers.
He ruled out any suggestion that Williams interest in women's clothing or his work as a spy had played a part, and said they did not believe he had meant to take his own life.
Despite the fact that there had always been doubt that someone could have locked themselves in a bag - a number of experts tried and failed - Hewitt said they now believed this was what Williams had done.
"It's theoretically possible for someone to do that. It is a more probable conclusion that there was no other person present," said Hewitt, who agreed Williams's interest in escapology might have been a factor.
He could not categorically rule out anyone else being involved and said any new evidence would be followed up.
In a statement, Williams's family said they still believed the coroner's conclusions more accurately reflected what had happened, and repeated their anger that MI6 had failed to report Williams missing for days after he did not show up at work.
Hewitt denied suggestions Britain's spies had simply staged an elaborate cover-up.
"I do not believe I have had the wool pulled over my eyes."
($1 = 0.6279 British pounds)
(editing by Stephen Addison)

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