Brit Dee, Contributor
The British Special Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, has been accused of making significant errors in relation to the bizarre case of Gareth Williams – the spy whose dead body was found padlocked inside a sports holdall.
Mr Williams’ naked and heavily decomposed body was discovered in the padlocked holdall in the bath of his London flat in August 2010, and yesterday the coroner at his inquest said she believed his death had been “criminally mediated”.
Some had speculated that Mr Williams died after climbing into and padlocking the bag himself, a theory disproven by experts this week who unsuccessfully attempted to recreate such an unlikely scenario.
Peter Faulding, an expert on confined spaces, made 300 attempts at locking himself inside an identical bag, eventually declaring that “even Houdini would have struggled with this one…My conclusion is that Mr Williams was either placed in the bag unconscious, or he was dead before he was in the bag.”
Mr Williams’ family have been highly critical of MI6, stating that they suspect he may have been killed by an intelligence agent “specialising in the dark arts of the secret services”. The mathematics genius and codebreaker had been seconded to MI6 headquarters in London from his job at the GCHQ listening station in Cheltenham, but had requested to be retransferred, saying he did not like city life or the working culture at MI6. His sister this week confirmed there had been “friction” at work.
Mr Williams’ bosses at MI6 did not report him missing from work for over a week, leading the coroner to comment that his line manager’s evidence “begins to stretch the bounds of credibility”.
Two MI6 operatives, who after being granted anonymity were identified only as “F” and “G”, blamed the error on a “breakdown in communications”.
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It has also emerged that MI6 apparently withheld potentially important evidence from the police.
It was only on the penultimate day of the inquest that the senior investigating police officer became aware of nine memory sticks and a black holdall found in Mr Williams’ MI6 office.
Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire had not been given an inventory of documents and items found in a shared locker and a locked bag under Mr Williams’ desk – as one had not been compiled due, reportedly, to the “sensitive nature” of some of the contents. During this week’s inquest it also became clear that police had faced difficulties during their investigation of MI6.
When investigating the death of an intelligence service operative, the police are only allowed restricted access to witnesses and evidence – because of the purported risk to national security. The investigating police team had to use security-cleared officers from the counter-terrorism branch SO15 as go-betweens, meaning that they were unable to directly question witnesses themselves but instead had to rely on notes, taken by SO15 officers who questioned SIS witnesses in the presence of their line managers and legal representatives.
DCI Sebire said that homicide would have liked “primary access” to witnesses and evidence, and Mr Williams’ family lawyer has been especially critical of the investigation.
Anthony O’Toole said that S015 had taken assurances from SIS without questioning, claimed there were “errors” and “discrepancies” in the anonymised statements which had not been checked for accuracy by SIS officers, and went on to say that “It was almost under the Old Boys’ Act…They told you that and you accepted it.”
It appears that once again, as during the recent 7/7 London bombings inquest when MI5 operatives also gave evidence anonymously, the British Intelligence Service has escaped with merely a slap on the wrist – despite serious procedural failures, and justified suspicions of an institutional coverup.
This article first appeared at Resistance Radio.
Brit Dee runs an independent online radio station called Resistance Radio, which broadcasts daily news, views and analysis challenging the lies of our corrupt political and financial leaders, and the controlled corporate media, at http://www.resistradio.com.