UK spy death remains a mystery

2012-05-02 16:11

London - It is unlikely the death of a British spy whose naked body was found padlocked in a bag in his bath will ever be fully explained, the coroner told the final day of his inquest on Wednesday.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox said it was "unlikely" the circumstances of Gareth Williams' 2010 death "will ever be satisfactorily explained" given that "most of the fundamental questions in relation to how Gareth died remain unanswered".

Wilcox said she did not have enough evidence to give a verdict of unlawful killing in the death of Williams, a high-flying codebreaker with the MI6 external intelligence agency, despite a plea from his family's lawyer.

She will instead deliver a narrative verdict, listing the possibilities but failing to reach a conclusion.

Williams' family have previously said they believe secret agents versed in the "dark arts" tried to cover up his death, while the detective heading the investigation said on Tuesday she was convinced someone else was involved.

"My strongest belief is that a third party was involved and I would ask people to search their consciences and come to us to find some resolutions to this case and some peace for his family," Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire said.

The inquest looked into whether Williams could have padlocked himself in the bag alone, after speculation he might have done so as part of a sex game, but one expert said even escapologist Harry Houdini "would have struggled" to pull off the feat.

Pathologists said Williams probably died from poisoning or suffocation, but decomposition of his body reduced the scope for pinpointing the cause of death.

The spy's employers at MI6 failed to report him missing for a week, the inquest has heard.

Police also told the inquest they had not examined some of Williams' possessions including nine memory sticks because his bosses at MI6 said they were irrelevant.

Police found women's clothing worth about £20 000 in Williams' flat, while the inquest also heard he visited bondage sites, filmed himself nearly naked, and was once found tied to a bed.

His sister, Ceri Subbe, told the inquest Williams had been unhappy at MI6, where he was seconded from Britain's intelligence monitoring centre.

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