UK 'sadomasochistic' spy inquest opens

2012-04-23 16:52

London - An inquest resumed on Monday into the mysterious death of a British spy whose naked body was found padlocked in a bag at his home two years ago.

The decomposing remains of Gareth Williams, 31, were discovered in August 2010 in a holdall in the bath at his London home, near the headquarters of Britain's MI6 external intelligence service, where he worked.

His family believe secret agents versed in the "dark arts" tried to cover up his death, but Scotland Yard detectives have found no evidence that anyone else had been with Williams in his flat at the time of his death.

Around 30 witnesses are expected to give evidence in the five-day inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court in London, but four intelligence agents among them were granted anonymity.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox said "there will be a real risk of harm" to national security and international relations if their identities are revealed.

The coroner said a practical demonstration of how Williams could have got into the bag and locked it by himself was "at the very heart of this inquiry", given that one suggestion is that it was part of a sadomasochistic sex ritual.

An expert consulted by police will not be asked to perform the demonstration in the courtroom "to prevent proceedings becoming ridiculous", the coroner said.

Vincent Williams, a lawyer for Scotland Yard, said a video of the demonstration would instead be shown to the court.

Anthony O'Toole, a lawyer for Williams' family, said they were anxious the video was not released to the public "to ensure that this sort of reconstruction does not become bandied around by media outlets".

Williams' sister Ceri Subbe took the stand to tell the inquest her brother was "a country boy" who found it hard to adapt to life in London.

"The job was not quite what he expected," she said, adding: "He encountered a lot more red tape than he was comfortable with".

But she insisted that although he was disillusioned with the "rat race" in London, his family had not been worried about his state of mind at the time of his death. He had been "upbeat" in their last conversation.

Asked about a report in The Sunday Times newspaper that he had told a friend he feared he was being followed just before he died, Subbe said her brother had never mentioned such concerns to her.

She also said she was not aware that he had an extensive wardrobe of female clothing in his flat and speculated it could possibly be "a gift... or collectibles".

The coroner said the clothing had an approximate value of £20 000.

Williams, believed to be a mathematics genius, was just days from completing a one-year secondment at MI6 from his job at GCHQ, Britain's electronic "listening post" which monitors communications for intelligence purposes.

O'Toole said at a pre-inquest review hearing last month that the family believe someone else was either present when he died, or broke into his home afterwards to destroy evidence.

"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 by experts in the dark arts," he said.

Read more on:    mi6  |  uk  |  espionage

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Are you thirty and still single, without even a hint of a prospect on the horizon? Then read this!

SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact
Hottie of the day: Charlotte
Breakup text goes viral and it’s hilarious!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

Good Morning, Mr Mandela by Zelda la Grange

Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. Now R221. Pre-order now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You have the ability to lead and take up campaigns that can sway the crowd and make things happen. There can be a more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.