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July 7th People's Independent Inquiry Forum > U.K. & Ireland Watch > "British spy" found murdered

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Title: "British spy" found murdered
Description: in London flat

justthefacts - August 25, 2010 08:32 AM (GMT)

British spy found murdered in London flat

A man believed to have been a British spy has been found murdered in his London flat.

By Heidi Blake and Duncan Gardham
Published: 7:30AM BST 25 Aug 2010

Link to this video

The body of the GCHQ worker, who was in his 30s, was found stuffed into a large sports bag that had been left in a bath.

His mobile telephone and sim cards had been carefully laid out elsewhere in the flat.

Scotland Yard began a murder inquiry after making the discovery at the flat in Pimlico, central London, on Tuesday night.

The dead man was understood to have been employed as a communications worker at GCHQ, the Government’s “listening post” in Cheltenham, Glos.

But it is believed he may have been on secondment at the headquarters of MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, in Vauxhall, just across the Thames from where his body was found.

Police forced their way into the top-floor flat in a five-storey town house at 4.40pm on Monday.

The street, where homes sell for more than £1 million, was cordoned off overnight while forensic experts examined the scene.

The body, which was badly decomposed, is understood to have lain undiscovered in the flat for some time.

It has not yet been formally identified and sources said the man's parents are not in the country.

Access to the street is being granted only to residents.

A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “A police officer came to my house and asked if we had noticed anything suspicious in the last 10 days, so I think that the body has been there for a while. There have been forensic people in and out since yesterday.”

The cause of death has not been disclosed. A post mortem will be carried out on Tuesday.

A Met police spokesman said: “Officers were called to reports of a suspicious death at around 4.40pm today.

“They attended a top floor flat in Alderney Street and gained entry and found the body of a man in his 30s. He has yet to be identified.”

Counter-terrorist and security service officers are helping detectives in the inquiry.

The last spy to have been killed on British soil was Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian Federal Security Service officer, who died of polonium poisoning in November 2006.

justthefacts - August 25, 2010 08:41 AM (GMT)

Did Al-Qaeda bump off suitcase spook?

...spook...ritualistic...triggering triangle...Mercedes private ambulance...extraordinary coup...
user posted image
William Hague, who is the overall boss of MI6...the street was full of suits...tapes whirring...

Bridget - August 25, 2010 01:49 PM (GMT)
MI6 worker found murdered in London flat

Man found dead in sports bag in bath of London townhouse
Body was decomposing and had been stabbed, reports say

    * Helen Pidd and Sam Jones
    *, Wednesday 25 August 2010 11.49 BST

user posted image
Police probe 'spy' death A police officer outside the townhouse in Pimlico where the body of an unnamed man was found in a top-floor flat.

Police are investigating the murder of an apparent intelligence agent whose body was found stuffed into a sports bag in the bath of his London flat.

A postmortem examination will be held this morning to try to establish how the man, who was in his early 30s, died.

Scotland Yard would not comment on reports that the man had been stabbed several times. A spokesman said they would wait until the results of the postmortem were in.

It was also reported that the man's body was decomposing when it was found, and that one neighbour said police had told her the man could have been murdered a fortnight ago.

An unconfirmed report suggested he had worked at GCHQ, the government's secret listening service. He had been on secondment to MI6, the secret intelligence service, when he disappeared up to 10 days ago.

Police found his body on Monday afternoon when they were called to his flat in Pimlico after reports that he had not been seen for some time. Inside the property, officers found the man's mobile phone and a collection of sim cards laid out, the Daily Mail reported.

The location of the five-storey townhouse, just a mile from MI6 headquarters, fuelled speculation that the man was working there before his death.

Land Registry documents reveal that the block is owned by a private company, New Rodina.

Its details are hidden because it is registered in the British Virgin Islands and is not listed with Companies House.

The word rodina means "motherland" in Russian and Bulgarian.

A police source stressed that the man had not been formally identified, saying that while his employment documentation suggested he had indeed worked for the secret service, "he might have been an air conditioning technician rather than a spy".

He added: "If he really was a spy, you imagine someone would have reported him missing rather sooner."

Scotland Yard has launched a murder inquiry, in conjunction with counterterrorist and security service officials.

The street was cordoned off last night as forensic teams searched the property and surrounding areas for clues as to how and why the man was killed.

A black private ambulance parked outside the house just before 9.30pm. A few minutes later, forensics officers, accompanied by police officers, removed the corpse in a red body bag.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said: "Detectives are investigating a suspicious death following the discovery of the body of a man in a central London flat. At around 1640 hours on Monday 23 August, officers attended the flat, on the top floor of a property in Alderney Street, Westminster, following reports that the occupant had not been seen for some time.

"Officers gained entry and found the body of the man, believed to be aged in his 30s. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers are yet to identify the deceased."

No arrests have been made.

The street of Georgian terraced homes remained cordoned off this morning and police officers stood outside No 36, which is divided into three flats.

Curtains were drawn in the top-floor flat, where it was believed the murder took place.

Many politicians and bankers live on the street, neighbours said.

If reports of the deceased man being a spy are true, the murder will be the highest-profile one in the UK of someone linked to the secret services since that of Alexander Litvinenko.

The former KGB agent died in hospital after being poisoned by radioactive polonium-210 in 2006.

justthefacts - August 25, 2010 10:35 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Bridget @ Aug 25 2010, 02:49 PM)
MI6 worker found murdered in London flat

The word rodina means "motherland" in Russian and Bulgarian.

Landlord's name is a Russian joke

Rodina also means "family" in some other Slavic languages.

Bridget - August 26, 2010 11:23 PM (GMT)
Even Rashid Rauf makes an appearance:
Security chiefs mourn loss of genius spy Gareth Williams
By Jon Clements 27/08/2010

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NSA 450 Puzzle Palace

The full extent of murdered spy Gareth Williams role in the world of espionage slowly began to emerge last night.

He was rated as one of the best code-breakers in the business an elite agent who fought in secret to thwart al-Qaeda terror attacks at home and abroad.

And the 31-year-old maths geniuss unique skills were also recognised by spy chiefs across the Atlantic.

Despite a dislike of flying, he regularly travelled from London to Baltimore to meet US National Security Agency officials at their Fort Meade HQ dubbed the Puzzle Palace.

He made the trip up to four times a year on business for the Governments GCHQ listening post.

Last night his uncle told how he would mysteriously disappear for up to three or four weeks at a time.

Speaking at his farmhouse at Anglesey, North Wales, Michael Hughes said: The trips were very hush-hush. They were so secret that I only recently found out about them and were a very close family. It had become part of his job in the past few years. His last trip out there was a few weeks ago, but he was regularly back and forth.

Mr Williams mysterious death has shocked and dismayed officials at the NSA, which has an agreement with GCHQ to pool their signal intelligence known as SigInt.

Fort Meade officials have been updated on the police investigation into how the cyclist, who was on attachment to MI6, was found dead in a sports holdall in his bathtub.

They are anxious to know if there has been any breach of global security as a result of the murder at Mr Williams Government-owned flat in Pimlico, Central London.

Britain now relies heavily on the NSA to help monitor phone calls, emails, texts and other communications of UK terror suspects.

When MI5 discovered the plot in 2006 by British Muslims to bomb transatlantic jets, GCHQ called in the NSA to help and Williams worked closely alongside them.

Spy satellites tracked and secretly copied emails from mastermind Rashid Rauf in Pakistan to the two ringleaders in Walthamstow, East London. The messages were vital to the 2008 convictions of Abdullah Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain. Mr Williams, who won a first class honours degree in maths at just 17, used to spend an average 19 days on each US trip before taking a fortnights holiday.

One Western intelligence source told the Mirror: He will have had crucial high-level meetings with American intelligence officers. His job would have been crucial to the security of the UK and our interests abroad and also to America and Europe.

Although not particularly high up the GCHQ ladder, the importance of his role should not be underestimated. The man was a mathematical genius.

It is thought Mr Williams may have had input into the monitoring of communications between Taliban commanders in Afghanistan and even the tracking of serious organised crime suspects.

His death is being seen as a major blow to the security services because of his unusual and rare talents. A spokesman for Bangor University, where he completed his degree in just two years, described the fitness fanatic as extremely gifted.

And a former classmate at Uwchradd Bodedern secondary in Anglesey said: Nobody ever needed a calculator when Gareth was around.

Police investigating his death continue to focus on his personal life as they try to establish a motive.

Relatives are baffled by claims his body lay undiscovered for up to two weeks as his sister Ceri, from Chester, says she spoke to him last Wednesday.

Security chiefs mourn loss of genius spy Gareth Williams -

Sinclair - August 26, 2010 11:47 PM (GMT)
QUOTE (Bridget @ Aug 26 2010, 11:23 PM)
Even Rashid Rauf makes an appearance:

As does the alleged 'Crevice plot' discovery machination, the alleged Puzzle Palace (interception of an Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, message......when in fact Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had nothing to do with it as the Crevive surveillance had been ongoing since the previous year, 2003).....

It seems that something is not quite right in Spooksville. Who could have done such a thing (& where did they get hold of such a big sports holdall?).......Al Queda? Surely not?!

justthefacts - August 27, 2010 08:41 AM (GMT)
I noticed the other day that market traders tend to have pretty big holdalls compared to the standard ones.

numeral - August 27, 2010 10:38 AM (GMT)

CIA probes British spy murder as it emerges he was sent on frequent missions to Pentagon's high-security listening post

By Charlotte Gill, Emily Andrews and Liz Hull
Last updated at 9:01 AM on 27th August 2010

The CIA was called in to help investigate the murder of an MI6 spy last night as it emerged he was sent on frequent secret missions to the United States.

American intelligence officers are poring over every detail of Gareth Williams's work and personal life to see if the circumstances of his death endangered U.S. national security.

The Daily Mail can reveal that the 31-year-old codebreaker flew to the National Security Agency, the Pentagon's listening post and the largest intelligence agency in the world, up to four times a year. He returned from his last trip to America only a few weeks before he was found dead.

Questions also remain over why his body lay undiscovered for up to a fortnight at his 400,000 flat in a Victorian townhouse in Pimlico, central London, half a mile from MI6 headquarters.

Mr Williams worked at the Government's listening post, GCHQ in Cheltenham, but had been on secondment to MI6 for the past year and was due to return to GCHQ next Friday.

The body of the keen cyclist was found in a sports holdall in the bath on Monday afternoon.

But yesterday his former landlady in Cheltenham insisted he had not been off work, intensifying the mystery surrounding his death.

Security sources could not explain why some one holding such a sensitive post was able to go 'missing' for such a long time before police were called.

Officers were last night examining the hard drive of a laptop computer found
in the flat.

Landlady Jenny Elliott said: 'He definitely wasn't on annual leave as the security services woman who came to see me after they found his body told me that he wasn't on holiday.

'Why did no one notice? It's disgraceful the police weren't alerted earlier that he was missing. His murder is devastating and I just hope the person who did it is caught.

Mrs Elliott, 71, who rented Mr Williams a self-contained flat attached to her home in Cheltenham, said he would often travel to America for weeks at a time three or four times a year either with a male colleague or on his own.

His uncle, who lives in Anglesey, North Wales, where Mr Williams grew up, said: 'He'd been making the trips for a couple of years.

'I only found this out very recently and I do not know where in America he was staying or who he was working for out there, but I do know it was in relation to his job.

'His last trip was this summer. He returned from the States just a couple of weeks or so before he died.'

The source said: 'The strong implication is that his death is not connected
to his intelligence work, though this could change at any time. They are understandably concerned about what has happened and are keeping a close eye on developments.'

Mr Williams's devastated parents Ian and Ellen have faced speculation over their son's private life.

It has been reported that Mr Williams, who lived alone and did not have a partner,
was a gay cross dresser and may have been killed by a gay lover.

Police sources believe another theory is the spy's killer may have planted a trail of clues to make it seem as though he was murdered by a gay lover.

They said gay magazines and the phone numbers of gay escort men were found in the apartment near the agent's body.

Police have also asked a pathologist to check whether Mr Williams's neck was broken, which would suggest a professional hit, the sources said.

Those who know him say there is nothing to suggest that he may have been homosexual.

Mrs Elliott, who rented her flat to him for ten years during his time at GCHQ, never saw him bring anyone male or female back to his home.

Detectives are still trying to ascertain how Mr Williams died. A postmortem
examination proved inconclusive and now they must wait for toxicology results to find out whether drugs, alcohol, poisoning or suffocation were the cause of death.

Sources say he was not stabbed, shot, strangled or beaten. Scotland Yard is describing the death as 'suspicious and unexplained'.

A former MI6 officer said that intelligence chiefs are furious that details of Mr Williams's work as a spy had been leaked.

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Harry Ferguson said senior officials at the Secret Intelligence Service wanted to suppress any information about his work and to simply refer to him as a 'civil servant' when news of the murder was made public.

'They hoped details of his role could all be kept covered up. It is a standard
process. Blurting it out has caused a lot of unnecessary embarrassment, risk and upheaval to the SIS.

'If it had been managed properly it could have been kept quiet. He could simply have been described as a government worker or civil servant.

'They are especially frustrated that it has emerged that not only was he was working in GCHQ, but also on secondment to MI6.'

Mr Ferguson said secret service bosses feared that the 'nightmare scenario' had come true when the body was discovered.

'One of the concerns about having such a high profile building as the SIS does is that, while staff can be protected when inside the building, there a significant risk that they could be followed home,' he said.

'It is the sort of thing that a small group of Islamists or other terror network would clearly be capable of doing.'

He said the apparent 'ritualistic' scene at Mr Williams' flat, with his mobile phone and SIM cards carefully laid out, also suggested it could have been carried out by a foreign agency to send a message.

The reclusive maths genius and rumours of cross-dressing and blackmail

FROM a tender age, it was clear to his teachers at Morswyn primary school on Anglesey that there was something special about Gareth Williams.

A talented pupil, he was fast-tracked through education, earning his maths GCSE aged nine while most of his contemporaries were still grappling with basic arithmetic.

By 13 he had secured his A-levels and had a degree in maths by 17.

He was known as the maths genius by fellow pupils and possessed the fastest brain his teachers had encountered. But his academic excellence came at a price.

Forced to study with children several years older than himself, he found it hard to make friends and was last night described by former school mates as socially naive and introverted.

Detectives were last night investigating whether this shy, private side to his nature made him vulnerable to blackmail amid lurid claims that he was a secret cross-dresser.

Geraint Williams, his maths teacher at secondary school, recalled how young Gareth was so clever that he sat his intermediate maths GCSE, gaining a grade B, while still at primary school, before being moved up to Bodedern Secondary School, Holyhead, a year ahead of his peers.

Within months of his arrival he took his advanced GCSE, scoring an A grade, and received top marks in A-level maths and computer studies two years later, when he was 13.

His teachers were initially at a loss at how best to educate him.Their solution was to move him up two years and enrol the youngster, then aged15, on a three-year maths degree course at his local university at Bangor, which heattained in just two years with first class honours.

Teacher Mr Williams said: Id heard about this amazing pupil who had done his GCSE at primary school and got a B at intermediate level.

He took the higher level GCSE in a couple of months and got an A. It was a problem for us what could we do with him? We got him to follow A-levels and he did A-level maths and computer science in the third-form. He achieved As in them.

That was a big problem because he was still only 13, so we contacted Bangor University and he followed the first year of maths degree course.

The teacher added: He was the best logician and the pupil with the fastest brain I have ever met. You only had to say things once, thats why he was so successful. He could understand things immediately. He was also extremely good with computer science.

Gareth was also a very nice lad, quiet and unassuming. Its very sad.

After leaving Bangor University at 17, Mr Williams went on to study for a PhD at Manchester University before enrolling in postgraduate certificate at St Catharines College, Cambridge, in 2000.

He dropped out a year later, but last night friends speculated that he left afterbeing taken on by the Secret Services, which traditionally recruit from Oxbridge.

They said it was an open secret that Mr Williams worked at GCHQ, but added that any notion that the quiet, unassuming boy lead a James Bond spy lifestyle was laughable.

One close friend, who attended primary school with Mr Williams, said: Gareth was a super, super brain. Beyond intelligent, a very, very clever guy.

He was hand-picked while at Cambridge by the services, they want the cream of the crop and he certainly was that.

It was common knowledge that he worked at GCHQ, but any notion that he led a James Bond style lifestyle is rubbish.

Those kind of people have to be able to blend in, but Gareth wasnt like that, he was very different.

He was introverted and found it difficult to make friends, but he was a lovely, lovely bloke. It is such a tragic waste of such a talented life.

The dead mans parents, Ian, an engineer at Wylfa power station, and mother Ellen, who worked in education, were on holiday in America celebrating their joint 50th birthdays when news of their sons death broke.Last night they were said to be devastated.

Another former school friend, Dylan Parry, 34, said he was dumfounded by the murder.

Gareth was the last person I would have believed would be involved in the murkier elements of life, said Mr Parry, of Holyhead. He really was about as far from a James Bond figure as its possible to imagine.

Gareth was introverted and socially awkward. He wasnt dashing or cavalier or a charmer, although he was extremely nice in a quiet way.

There has been a lot of speculation about his sexuality, but he was so introverted as to be asexual.

He wasnt able to form relationships because he was so obsessed with his maths studies.

We nicknamed him the maths genius because he was so clever. He was so naive, he was someone people could easily take advantage of.

I wouldnt have thought he was a very good judge of character and its possible he got to know someone who wasnt very safe. He was so innocent.

numeral - August 28, 2010 05:10 AM (GMT)

Riddle of murder spy's money trail: Why, for three days in a row, was 2,000 paid into his account and then taken out?

By Charlotte Gill, Emily Andrews, Tom Kelly and James Tozer
Last updated at 1:20 AM on 28th August 2010

Thousands of pounds mysteriously moved through the bank account of murdered MI6 spy Gareth Williams in the fortnight before his death.

Police sources say they are investigating three sums of 2,000 paid into his account on consecutive days, then withdrawn on consecutive days with the last transaction happening on the eve of his killing.

It is understood to have been established that the sums did not come from his 42,000 salary, and officers are trying to discover who supplied the money and why.

One theory being explored is that the movement of cash could indicate 31-year-old Mr Williams was a victim of blackmail and had transferred money from a savings account into his current account before using it to pay off his tormentor.

Another possibility is that he could have been selling information and was paid the money before transferring it into another account or passing it on to another informant.

There could also be a perfectly innocent explanation, with perhaps a friend or relative repaying the cipher and codes specialist for a loan and him putting the money in a different account.

It is understood that an internal row has broken out between the police and both the intelligence and security services, with spooks effectively being accused of sabotaging the police operation.

A source claimed detectives have been blocked from interviewing several potentially crucial witnesses.

Mr Williamss best friend, a female colleague at the Governments listening post, was posted to work for an intelligence agency linked to Pentagon in the U.S. five weeks ago.

The 25-year-old woman and her husband, who also knew Mr Williams, both worked at GCHQ in Cheltenham and were suddenly transferred to Denver, Colorado, on secret duties.

Murder squad detectives are keen to speak to her in case she can offer any clues to why someone would want Mr Williams dead.

But they were informed this week by the security services that she was unavailable for interview.

A second key security services witness, so far unnamed, who also knew Mr Williams, has also been put off limits to the frustrated detectives.

The body of Mr Williams, a loner who loved cycling, was found stuffed in a sports bag in the bath at his 400,000 apartment half a mile from MI6 headquarters in London by officers on Monday afternoon.

He had been on secondment to MI6 for a year but was due to return next week to his position at the government listening post, GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

The Daily Mail revealed yesterday that he had flown to the National Security Agency, the Pentagons listening post nicknamed the Puzzle Palace, up to four times a year and returned from his last U.S. trip only weeks before his murder.

Investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to discover if poison, drugs, alcohol or suffocation caused his death.

There are no outward signs of violence and Scotland Yard continues to describe his death as suspicious and unexplained.

One police source said: There is near mutiny among the team.

The investigation is in complete disarray because most of the team thinks there should be a public appeal to garner potentially crucial information about Gareth Williamss movements.

But they are being told "No", without any explanation or debate. It is assumed that its an order from on high.

A second source added: It is absolutely bizarre because SO15 (Counter Terror Command) are not conducting the inquiry it is being handled by homicide command.
Gareth Williams schoolboy

Bright boy: Gareth Williams, centre, with classmates in 1987. He staggered teachers with his ability in maths, passing a GCSE aged only nine, and obtaining his A-Level at 13

Its very strange but it explains why the spooks are blocking them. Officers in SO15 are security vetted but the homicide detectives are not.

The security services are not going to want to trust them with top-secret information. They would only trust the SO15 officers. This guy may only have been a cipher but he clearly had access to secret material, and they wont want ordinary police officers tramping all over it.

Questions are now being asked over why the inquiry was given to murder squad detectives in the first place, rather than security-vetted counter terror officers.

One theory was that this was specifically demanded by the security services. The source added: Its clearly a big cover up, for whatever reason. The security services obviously dont want the police to pry too deeply into this one.

So by insisting the inquiry is carried out by ordinary officers, who dont have security clearance, they have an excuse to block them from access to sensitive information and key witnesses.

It makes it easier for the whole thing to be swept under the carpet. Why, we can only guess at. Publicly, the Metropolitan Police said the notion of any dispute was absolute rubbish and said that organised and well established procedures are in place to ensure collaborative and supportive working.

Family's disgust at slurs about his private life
William Hughes

Sexuality slur: William Hughes, uncle of Gareth Williams, claims there are forces at work trying to discredit his nephew

The family of Gareth Williams are furious at lurid allegations circulating about his lifestyle and fear they could be a government smear campaign to discredit him and divert attention from the security services.

His uncle William Hughes, said the spys parents Ian and Ellen were very, very upset about these untruths.

Speculation has been rife that the spy was a transvestite who was murdered by a gay lover or killed in a sex game gone wrong.

The lurid reports were made in a series of newspapers but police chose not to issue a denial until last night.

Only after staying silent on the claims for three days did Scotland Yard finally state that there was no truth in reports of a link to a male escort and said that no bondage equipment or gay paraphernalia had been found at the London apartment where he was found dead.

Mr Hughes, who lives near Mr Williamss parents in Anglesey, North Wales, said: Someone, somewhere is trying to discredit Gareth with these untrue claims about his private life.

The family are concerned that it may be part of an attempt to put false and unkind personal details about Gareths private life into the public domain to diminish him and take attention away from the security services he worked so loyally for.

They are very, very angry. It is completely false. The lad had been away from home for a long time - we did not know much about his private life but it has never crossed any of our minds that he could be gay. Its not the picture they have of their son.

Mr and Mrs Williams are being supported by their daughter Ceri at the family home in Valley, Anglesey.

Mr Hughes, 62, said: I have spoken to Gareths parents and they are not doing well at all. They are in a state of shock and struggling to come to terms with what has happened.

They have seen what has been in the papers and they are very, very upset about these untruths. It never crossed my mind that Gareth was that sort of person. He left home at a young age and what happened in his private life was his business.

When you have these rumours in the papers, it is most distressing. It is heartbreaking that he has died so young and his family have enough on their plate without having to read these stories.

The spys former landlady, who for ten years rented a self-contained flat to him in the annexe of her home in Cheltenham, said he never brought anyone, male or female, back in the time he lived there.

Jenny Elliott said: I would do his washing and hang it out to dry. I never noticed anything funny like that. He never came across as gay. Any time I went into his flat I never noticed anything untoward. I would even fold up his washing and put it into drawers.

Friends too said there was no suggestion he could be gay. One schoolfriend, Dylan Parry, said: Gareth was introverted and socially awkward. He wasnt dashing or cavalier or a charmer, although he was extremely nice in a quiet way.

There has been a lot of speculation about his sexuality, but he was so introverted as to be asexual. He wasnt able to form relationships because he was so obsessed with his maths studies.

numeral - August 29, 2010 03:51 AM (GMT)


Sunday August 29,2010
By James Fielding and Jane Clinton

MI6 and MI5 have joined forces for the first time since the Cold War to solve code breaker Gareth Williams murder.

Security chiefs have taken the highly unusual step amid fears Mr Williams was killed by a foreign agent.

Spooks from both intelligence services are shocked that one of their own was killed in their own backyard.

Meanwhile, there was fury in the US last night after FBI attempts to quiz Mr Williams best friend, a 25-year-old British woman working for British security in Colorado were blocked by UK officials.

In a covert operation separate to the official police investigation, MI6 and MI5 agents are now trawling a list of more than 150 suspected enemy spies hiding in Britain.

They are tracing their movements over the past fortnight and are compiling a detailed dossier on each one.

The last co-operation between the two agencies was in the Fifties when five Cambridge University-educated spies, including Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, were found to have passed on information to the Soviet Union after the Second World War.

Agents probing Mr Williams death are working on the theory he was killed in a professional hit.

The Sunday Express can reveal the 31-year-old had been devising a firewall to protect British banks from computer hackers. He was based at the Governments GCHQ listening post in Cheltenham, where he had a flat, but was on a years secondment to MI6. The job often took him to the National Security Agency in Washington DC, the Pentagons GCHQ.

Mr Williams body was found on Monday in a sports holdall, which had been left in the bath at his rented 400,000 apartment in Pimlico, central London.

A post-mortem examination was inconclusive but sources close to the police investigation say he was not stabbed, shot, strangled or beaten, leaving suffocation or poisoning as the probable causes.

A source told the Sunday Express: Mr Williams death sent shock-waves shuddering through both MI5 and MI6. The security service is in meltdown.

The focus is increasingly being centred on his role for the security service and whether a foreign agent is to blame.

Mr Williams last visited the US earlier this year and American spy chiefs fear that secret US information may have been leaked.

The source added: The Americans want to know exactly what Mr Williams was doing in the States and whether he let slip any vital information before he died. Not being able to speak to his friends will have made things even worse.

According to reports, Mr Williams, originally from Anglesey, North Wales, drew 6,000 from his bank account in the days before his death, which could mean he was the target of blackmail.

numeral - August 29, 2010 09:17 AM (GMT)

Investigation into death of British spy Gareth Williams takes another mystifying turn: What happened to 18K in spy's bank?

By Ian Gallagher And Abul Taher
Last updated at 1:45 AM on 29th August 2010

    * Forensic accountants called in to examine Gareth Williams's bank account
    * Detectives question staff at Thames boating club
    * Police increasingly frustrated at lack of help from MI6

The investigation into the death of British spy Gareth Williams took another mystifying turn last night with the claim that 18,000 disappeared from one of his bank accounts two months ago and cannot be immediately traced.

According to a source close to the investigation, forensic accountants have been called in by detectives to try to establish where the money, apparently moved by complex means, ended up.

The Mail on Sunday has been told that the sum was moved from Mr Williamss
Barclays online deposit account. It is understood that his salary was paid into a Cheltenham & Gloucester account.

Last night there was no independent confirmation of the claim which, if correct, will inevitably fuel speculation that the 31-year-old cipher and codes specialist may have been blackmailed.

It has been reported that he may have been selling information and was seeking to hide the money, possibly offshore. Scotland Yard declined to comment last night on either allegation.

The source said that police acknowledge it is equally possible that there is an innocent explanation for the moneys disappearance. Mr Williams reportedly led a frugal lifestyle a passion for cycling apparently dominating his life outside work and it simply may be that he was an assiduous saver.

Other reports have claimed that three sums of 2,000 were paid into Mr Williamss bank account on
consecutive days and then withdrawn on consecutive days in the weeks before his death.

However, sources suggest that it is likely that these deposits were the 2,000 tax-free monthly allowance the spy received while he was in London on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, the Government listening post in Cheltenham.

The Mail on Sunday has also been told, meanwhile, that two bundles of cash 500 in each were found in the London flat where Mr Williams was found dead last week. One bundle was in an envelope, the other was said to have been bound with an elastic band.

There is nothing to suggest a sinister reason for their presence, but sources say they may be significant because they were left behind. Police would would not comment on this claim last night.

Investigators suspect Mr Williams may have known his killer as there was no sign of forced entry at his top-floor flat in Pimlico, where police forensic officers in white protective suits were working yesterday. At 4pm they took away two bags of evidence.

In another intriguing development, The Mail on Sunday has been told that police have been making inquiries about another GCHQ worker who used to live in the same flat. They are said to be examining CCTV footage taken from a boating club this man belonged to on the Thames, near MI6 headquarters.

Detectives visited the Westminster Boating Base, which helps children learn sailing and kayaking, two days after Mr Williams body was found and interviewed its manager Kevin Burk for more than an hour. They also looked at video of sailing trips which the man went on. It is believed that the detectives may have taken some of the recordings with them for further analysis.

Detectives then called Mr Burk the following day, interviewing him for another hour by telephone. They gave him strict orders not to talk to the Press or the public. It is understood he was asked detailed questions about the former colleague of Mr Williams, who The Mail on Sunday has agreed not to name. The man is thought to have moved out of the flat six months ago.

Neighbour Stephen Barnes, who first met the man two years ago, said: This chap told me he worked for the civil service, in the technology side. He also said that the Government met his rent, thats how he could afford to live in Pimlico. He was a loner.

Mr Barnes, who runs a medical supplies company from his home, was also interviewed and detectives asked him to supply all the information he had on the man.

The investigation into Mr Williamss death has been beset from the outset by a number of difficulties, including claims of a frustrating lack of help from MI6, and unexplained avenues of inquiry.

But the biggest problem faced so far has been the failure to discover how Mr Williams died.

We cant even say for sure that he was murdered, said a Scotland Yard spokesman.

The results of a post mortem are not expected for at least another week. And while he was last seen on August 15 in London and was found in his flat eight days later it is not known exactly when he died.

This has had the effect of elongating the inquiry, said a police source.

For one thing it means that there is much more CCTV to go through. Everything is taking a lot of time.

While Scotland Yard has been reluctant to comment on aspects of the crime scene, it strongly refuted suggestions that bondage equipment and gay paraphernalia were found in the flat.

Those reports are garbage, said a spokesman, who also dismissed suggestions that gay contact magazines were found. But he declined to comment on various claims about Mr Williamss private life, including suggestions that he was gay and a cross-dresser.

Last night his family were said to be furious that officers investigating his killing had allowed false claims of a wild homosexual lifestyle to gather momentum, with his parents Ian and Ellen feeling let down by the failure to scotch the speculation sooner.

Mr Williamss uncle, William Hughes, said: Gareths name and reputation were being destroyed by these horrible and completely fictitious accounts of his private life.

After Scotland Yard dismissed the allegations, Mr Hughes said: Of course we are relieved hugely relieved that these statements have finally been put out by the police, but what took them so long?

The police have known since his body was first found that there was none of this material at the scene. They knew how painful it was for the family to read these untrue, salacious accounts . . . they could have stamped on the speculation on day one, but chose not to. It was devastating for our family to have to read these details about Gareth. It was not the Gareth we knew.

To the best of our knowledge, Gareth was not gay and he has never had any interest in the things that were said about him. We hope the denials from the police will now end the speculation.


Gareth Williams played a key role in the worlds most sensitive and secretive electronic intelligence gathering system leading to new fears about the serious national security implications of his death.

Mr Williams was a top-level cryptologist helping to oversee a network called Echelon, which links satellites and super-computers in Britain and the US with those of other key allies.

Set up to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Echelon now eavesdrops on terror suspects and drug dealers, and searches for other political and diplomatic intelligence.

It reputedly intercepts five billion conversations and other forms of communications every day.

Echelon looks for key words and phrases that might suggest, for example, that a terrorist attack is being planned.

Mr Williamss expertise in his field is reflected by the fact that he had been posted to MI6s key listening station in Afghanistan, and had been sent to Fort Meade, in Maryland, home of the US National Security Agency.

He is also thought to have visited the NSA cryptology centres at San Antonio, Texas, and at Denver, Colorado.

It is understood Mr Williams was part of a team of maths geniuses trying to adapt the 40-year-old Echelon system to deal with new forms of electronic communications.

According to sources, one of the big issues Mr Williams was working on was how the security and intelligence agencies can monitor internet telephone calls known as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) such as Skype, which are being used by terrorists and foreign agents to try to circumvent routine eavesdropping on telephone and mobile networks.
'His code-breaking work is thought to have helped save the lives of scores of British soldiers under daily attack from insurgents.'

It is understood he was also involved in refining the sophisticated algorithms which determine the key words and phrases the system is looking for as it monitors conversations taking place around the world.

Mr Williamss death is likely to be a major blow to GCHQs efforts to crack VOIP.

Two years ago Britains Intelligence and Security Committee, which oversees the work of Britains spies, revealed: One of the greatest challenges for GCHQ is to maintain its intercept capability in the face of rapidly evolving communications technology.

This relates in particular to the growth in internet-based communications and voice over internet telephony.

The scope of his role was last night reinforced by the revelation that Mr Williams did at least two tours to Afghanistan, helping to break coded Taliban messages.

He was sent to MI6s station in Kabul twice in 2008, according to Ministry of Defence sources.

His code-breaking work is thought to have helped save the lives of scores of British soldiers under daily attack from insurgents.

Mr Williams would have studied the coded language of Taliban leaders planning to attack British and other NATO patrols and, in some cases, discover the location of those who sent the messages.

Among the favourite warning codes used by insurgents to set up their attacks are big wedding, getting married and birthday party.


The mother of a British spy murdered 20 years ago has criticised the heartless and despicable disinformation leaked by MI6 to cover up the truth about his undercover work.

Diana Moyles son Jonathan, a former RAF pilot and defence journalist, was assassinated in a hotel bedroom in Chile in 1990. His death was made to look like a sex game which went wrong.

Mrs Moyle spoke out yesterday as the family of Gareth Williams denounced similar false rumours about him using male escorts and keeping gay pornographic material.

She said: My heart goes out to the family of Gareth Williams. Why should they have to hear such cruel untruths being spread about his death? Perhaps some would claim it was in the national interest.

But we went through exactly the same thing when Jonathan was killed two decades ago. The pain which those lies caused me then and now is unbearable.

My son was a bright, articulate and decent fellow who was proud to serve his country and his reputation was sullied by a series of comments made by a Government official at a reception.

He wrote to us apologising for his claims which he said were overheard and then printed by journalists but I know that such things are not accidentally leaked. It is done deliberately.

Jonathan Moyles body was found hanging inside a wardrobe with a padded noose around his neck in a hotel in the Chilean capital Santiago. He had been investigating a company owned by arms dealer Carlos Cardoen which was modifiying helicopters, possibly to carry nuclear weapons, to sell to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

A Foreign Office official, believed to be an MI6 source, alleged at an official reception that Moyle had died accidentally while engaged in an auto-erotic act.

But Mrs Moyles late husband Anthony, a retired teacher, who died three years ago aged 78, refused to accept his son had killed himself in this manner.

Prior to his own death, Mr Moyle discovered his son was probably drugged, suffocated, injected with a lethal substance a syringe was found at the scene and then strung up in the closet. The same view was shared by Richard van Oppen, the coroner for East Devon, where the Moyles lived at the time, who returned a verdict of unlawful killing at his inquest held in 1998.

It was only revealed after Anthony Moyles death that Jonathan had been recruited by MI6 while a student at Aberystwyth University.

Mrs Moyle said: I spoke to Jonathan ten minutes before he probably died. He was in good spirits even though he had just got back to discover his room had been ransacked and there were papers scattered everywhere.

Author Wensley Clarkson, who wrote a best-selling book about the Moyle case, said his death seemed to have been a message from his enemies and it certainly looks that way with the Williams case as well.

He added: The Williams family just like the Moyles deserve to be given a proper explanation of why and how Gareth died.

Bridget - August 29, 2010 12:33 PM (GMT)
Annie Machon: my so-called life as a spy

The murder of MI6 operative Gareth Williams last week has turned the spotlight on the shady world of espionage. Here, a former intelligence offer for MI5 explains why the life of a British spy is an insular one

By Annie Machon
Published: 7:00AM BST 29 Aug 2010

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Annie Machon, former intelligence officer for MI5: 'I couldn't talk to my friends freely about my life, so they felt increasingly shut out'

Spies have always loved living in Pimlico: a civilised area in central London, handy for strolling to the office, and wonderfully convenient for that midnight dash to work if your operation suddenly goes live. Plus, the local pubs are pretty good for the customary after-work moan.

I lived there myself when I worked as an intelligence officer for MI5 in the 1990s, so the murder of Gareth Williams in a nearby street gave me a bit of a jolt. While his death remains shrouded in mystery, what has been reported of his life sounds like classic GCHQ.

There are distinct cultures within each of the three major UK spy agencies: MI5, the UK domestic security service; MI6, the overseas intelligence organisation; and GCHQ, the Government Communications HQ.

MI6 officers, as people who may have to work independently and undercover abroad, tend to be confident, individualistic and ethically flexible, while MI5 officers need to co-ordinate a broad range of resources and people to run an operation, which requires greater team-building. Of the three agencies, GCHQ remains the most secretive and inward-looking, and is staffed predominantly with boffin types. Williams, with his mathematical skills and loner tendencies, would be a typical employee.

Despite the intelligence community presenting a united front to the outside world, culture clashes between the three agencies are commonplace. Staff on secondment between agencies as Williams was, from GCHQ to MI6 can have a rough time fitting into a new environment, working with colleagues who eye them with suspicion, as the divisions jockey for power, prestige and resources within Whitehall.

So what is life like working as a spy? The world of intelligence is not so much isolating as insulating. Even as you proceed through the convoluted recruitment process, you find yourself entering a parallel universe, one that exists alongside your everyday life.

From that first, exploratory meeting with an intelligence officer in an unmarked building in central London, you have to withdraw a little from your old existence. You are asked not to tell your family and friends, and immediately have to sign a notification of the rigorous terms of the Official Secrets Act, whereby if you talk about your work, you risk imprisonment.

The process of induction into this world is intriguing, flattering and seductive. The agencies tend to avoid the James Bond wannabes, and those inspired by the fake glamour of Spooks. The key motivation is generally wanting to do a job that can make a difference, protect the country and potentially save lives. The secret element adds spice and perhaps compensates for the anorexic pay. When I started working for MI5 in 1991, at the fast-track graduate level, the starting salary was 14,500 pa a good 5,000 less than my peer group from Cambridge earned in their blue-chip jobs. The pay has improved somewhat since then, but you dont become a spy for the money.

The vetting process is protracted. For MI5, MI6 and GCHQ, officers are required to have the highest clearance Developed Vetting. This begins with a home visit. Disconcertingly, I soon found myself in the family sitting room being grilled about my sex life by a little, grey-haired lady who looked just like a favourite grandmother, until you looked into her eyes.

Then the process widens. I had to nominate four friends who were willing to be interviewed about me, and they were asked to suggest yet more people so secrecy becomes impossible. One friend, of a Left-wing hue, disapproved of my recruitment; even those who were supportive were reluctant to ask me too much. As I couldnt talk to them freely about my life, they felt increasingly shut out, so I lost old friends along the way.

Unsurprisingly, new officers begin to socialise increasingly with their colleagues, and close friendships grow rapidly. Within this clique, we could talk shop at dinner parties, use the same slang and terminology, discuss our work, and whinge about our bosses. With outsiders, we could never be fully ourselves. This, inevitably, often led to more than friendships. What might otherwise be called office romances flourished. I met my former partner, David Shayler, when we were both in our first posting in MI5.

Such relationships were not exactly encouraged, but were generally seen as a good thing by management unless, of course, it was a clandestine matter that could leave the officer vulnerable to blackmail. Such affairs were seen as vetting offences.

Among spies, an old double standard held firm. There was one couple who were caught in flagrante in the office, not once but twice. The male officer was put on gardening leave for six months; the woman was sacked.

For the first few weeks in the job, the feeling of unreality and dislocation is strong. The only solid information you have about your new position, as you walk into the office for the first time, is the grade at which you will be working nothing else.

My first posting was to the small counter-subversion section, F2. Even though it was a desk job, the information I was dealing with came from sensitive sources: intercepted communications, reports from agents who had penetrated target groups, police reports. And yet, within a few weeks, the handling of such secret and intrusive information became entirely normal.

Investigations can be very fast-paced, particularly in the counter-terrorism sections. Generally, officers work regular hours but occasionally, if an operation goes live, you work around the clock. If it proves a success, there might be a news item on the television about it but obviously without the full back story. That can be a surreal experience. You feel pride that youve achieved what you signed up to do, but you cannot discuss it with anybody outside the office. At such moments, the disconnect from mainstream life is intensely sharp.

However, when something goes wrong a bomb goes off in which civilians die the feelings are even more intense. Guilt, anger, frustration, and a scramble to ensure that the blame doesnt attach to your section. The official motto of MI5 is Regnum Defende defence of the realm. Staff mordantly used to joke that it should more accurately be Rectum Defende.

Personal security also ensures that there is a constant barrier between you and the normal world. If you meet someone interesting at a party, you cannot say too much about what you do, and such reticence can appear unfriendly. The cover story that MI5 officers use is that they work as civil servants at the Ministry of Defence; for MI6, it is the Foreign Office. This usually stops people from asking too much more, either through discretion or, frankly, boredom. Once or twice, people pushed me for more information, and my paranoia antennae immediately began to twitch: why are they so interested? Are they spies or, God forbid, journalists?

I had the misfortune once of using this cover story at a party, only to find my interlocutor actually worked for the real Ministry of Defence, and wanted to know which section I worked in, who my colleagues were, how long I had been there Thankfully, the magic word Box slang used to describe MI5 within Whitehall, derived from the organisations old PO Box 500 number brought that line of conversation to an abrupt halt.

As an intelligence officer, you quickly learn to be discreet on the telephone and in emails. Oblique conversations become the norm, and this bleeds into your personal life, too, much to the frustration of friends and family.

The internet is another challenge. As a spook, the last thing you want to see is your photograph on a friends Facebook page. Or, even worse, holiday snaps showing you in your Speedos, as the current head of MI6, Sir John Sawyer, found to his cost last year.

And what about when you come to leave the intelligence service, as I did after five years. Can you ever really have a normal life afterwards, and shake off the mindset?

Many of my former colleagues have left and built careers in a wide variety of areas. But I wonder how many still look automatically over their shoulders as they put their key in the front door; how many tear up paper before throwing it in the bin; and how many are reflexively reticent about their personal life?

Would I want to be a spy these days? No, thank you. Im happier in the real world.

Annie Machon: my so-called life as a spy - Telegraph

Bridget - August 29, 2010 01:15 PM (GMT)
MI6 death: Murder most strange

Jonathan Owen tries to determine the facts about the death of intelligence officer Gareth Williams, and asks experts for their views on a real-life spy mystery

Sunday, 29 August 2010
The Independent

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The body of intelligence officer Gareth Williams was found in his flat in Pimlico last week

The Metropolitan Police were under mounting pressure last night to bring in counter-terrorism officers to investigate the death of Gareth Williams, the British intelligence officer whose decomposing body was found stuffed in a sports bag in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London, last Monday.

Officers from the Met's Homicide and Serious Crime Command are understood to be furious at being stonewalled by Britain's secretive intelligence agencies. Detectives claim to have been "blocked" from interviewing potentially crucial witnesses, such as Mr Williams's "best friend", a female colleague at the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), who was posted to the US last month.

Counter-terrorism officers are security vetted, which would make it harder for intelligence agencies to withhold information on the grounds of security clearance, say detectives. "It's a big cover-up... The security services obviously don't want the police to pry too deeply," said a police source.

It emerged yesterday that police are investigating three sums of 2,000 paid into Mr Williams's account on consecutive days, and then withdrawn on consecutive days, with the last transaction on the eve of his killing. The money trail has heightened concerns that his death may present a national security risk. Mr Williams was on secondment to MI6 from GCHQ and was a regular visitor to the US National Security Agency HQ, Fort Meade.

His murder is unprecedented in that it took place just a short walk from MI6 and has seen a police investigation undertaken amid a frenzy of public speculation. Even the basic fact that he was murdered has yet to be officially confirmed, with a post mortem failing to discover the cause of death, despite reports he had been stabbed and found dumped in a sports bag in his bath. Police will only describe it as a "suspicious and unexplained death", and tests are under way to establish how the 30-year-old mathematician from Anglesey died. The results are expected this week. And after initially claiming he had been dead for two weeks before his body was found, police said on Friday that he had been in London from 11 August, with the last sighting of him on 15 August.

Mr Williams's family hit out yesterday at speculation in some newspapers that he was a cross-dressing homosexual who may have been killed by a gay lover. His uncle, William Hughes, said: "The family are concerned it may be an attempt to put false, unkind details about Gareth's private life into the public domain to diminish him and take attention away from the security services he worked so loyally for."

Sir Paul Lever Former chair of Joint Intelligence Committee

"If you want to dispel a suggestion that something is work-related, you inevitably imply it's to do with the person's non-work life... ergo their private life, so you end up perhaps implying things that may distress his family. I would be very surprised if his employers were deliberately setting out to smear him."

Annie Machon Former MI5 agent

"The trouble is that it's so murky at the moment. It could be misdirection ... towards some sort of sexual thing that went wrong. But there's also the fact that he was working on secure communications... the SIM cards and telephone laid out indicate the killer was aware of where he worked and was letting people know that."

Mark Birdsall Editor 'Eye Spy' magazine

"The fact that he was in a holdall is a classic indication that the body was going to be moved. There's something not quite right here, but I think the story is being created to give the ordinary man in the street the opinion, 'well, he was involved in some sort of lovers' tiff'... I think the whole background about Mr Williams is being manipulated, possibly to disguise what he was up to, which is natural. You put out a cover story to disguise the real operation."

David Wilson Professor of Criminology, University of Central England

"In the vast majority of murders you don't look for a Hollywood motive, you look for the most banal motive the most banal motives are love, rage, and jealousy... I'm absolutely convinced with virtually every serious crime I've been involved with that there's a great deal of misinformation... when one talks to press officers of any government agency they have a line that they try to feed."

'John Smith' A former head of GCHQ

"This is first and foremost a personal tragedy. Clearly it's unwelcome that it is someone working for the intelligence services who might have been working for anyone else, and it isn't yet clear quite what the ramifications beyond that might be. People are going spare [at GCHQ/MI6] because there is a public relations crisis to handle. As a precautionary measure, they will be looking at how much this chap knew and how much he could have communicated to anyone."

Rupert Allason Espionage author & former Tory MP

"The only security concern regarding Gareth Williams's death would be if there was evidence that classified information had been compromised. Doubtless SIS and GCHQ security staff are pursuing those lines and a search of his flat and laptop would be top of the list. In the absence of any indication that there had been a breach of security there would not appear to be any other issues, apart perhaps from one: which police officer tipped off the media to the link with Vauxhall Cross?"

Prof Anthony Glees Director, Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, University of Birmingham

"I don't think he would have been murdered because of what he knew but because of his private life. If his private life brought him into contact with someone who went on to kill him, he was a risk-taker... If you do risky things, you may not be blackmailable but you may still be a security risk because your risk-taking may bring you into contact with people who might try to exploit this trait to get secrets out of you."

James Bamford Author of three bestsellers on the US national security agency (NSA)

"Rather than a 'spy' in the James Bond sense of the word, he was far more likely a routine cryptanalyst. It is also very unlikely, especially given his sexual interests, that there is any foreign intelligence involvement in his death. Those things happen in the movies but rarely in real life. Nevertheless, I'm sure there is a very intense investigation, both at the NSA and GCHQ, into what accesses Williams had, his travels and his telephone, email and internet communications."

Stephen Dorril Intelligence expert University of Huddersfield

"GCHQ has been sending people into the field in Afghanistan to monitor communications; they have small units of personnel who are doing field work instead of just being behind the desk, so they have obviously been working closely with MI6."

Nicholas Anderson Former MI6 agent and author

"My first gut thought was that he couldn't have been a high-security risk as it took nearly two weeks for the FCO [Foreign & Commonwealth Office] employee assistance head to follow up on why he hadn't been at work. Granted, he may have had a job where he worked alone so he didn't have to report in, but most lone operators, like I used to be, report to somebody on a timely basis regardless."

Roger Graef Broadcaster and criminologist

"The one thing we won't know is the truth. This is in the category of iconic crimes, when you don't ever expect to be told the real thing, and there are just too many reasons to keep it secret... None of it adds up: if he was such a hot shot at code breaking then presumably he'd have been protected... We are very unlikely to ever know what happened."

Prof Martin Innes Director of the universities' police science institute at cardiff university

"If they've stuck him in a bag ready to be moved, if that was what happened, then that suggests someone a bit more intent on what it is they're trying to do... If the individual concerned is out there and dismembering the body, there's something else going on. But until we know that it's pretty difficult to say anything useful."

Michael Smith Author of 'Six: A history of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service'

"No conversation I have had with anyone genuine within the intelligence community has given any information on this guy that would be any use in building up a picture of him other than off-the-record confirmation that he was a GCHQ employee who has been on attachment to MI6."

numeral - August 29, 2010 05:21 PM (GMT)

numeral - August 29, 2010 07:33 PM (GMT)

Bondage claims over dead MI6 officer untrue, say police

Officers who found body of Gareth Williams say it was 'a neat job', leading to speculation that it was a professional hit

    * Helen Carter and Richard Norton-Taylor
    *, Sunday 29 August 2010 16.02 BST

Further questions have been raised over the death of an MI6 officer after police confirmed that reports of bondage equipment found at his flat and a "ritualistic" arrangement of his possessions were untrue.

The body of Gareth Williams was found stuffed in a bag in the bath of an MI6 safehouse in Pimlico, south London, a week ago. Reports have said there was evidence of a break-in, and that sim cards containing the numbers of gay escorts were found at the flat, but police who found the body told Channel 4 News it was "a neat job", leading to speculation that Williams was killed in a professional hit.

The police and security services seem to disagree over precisely what led to Williams' death, with Whitehall sources maintaining that his death was "more to do with his private life than his job".

Claims that 31-year-old Williams was secretly gay appear to be wrong, according to the original police dispatch seen by Channel 4. His family claim Williams has been the victim of a smear campaign to deflect attention from his work within the intelligence service. He is thought to have played a role in gathering intelligence as a code-cracker or cipher, and was seconded to MI6 from GCHQ.

Contrary to some reports, three mobile phone sim cards found in the flat were not arranged in a "ritualistic" manner, a Metropolitan police spokesman told the Guardian.

The police confirmed that Williams was last seen on 15 August, eight days before his body was found. Initial reports said he had not been seen for a fortnight. His body was discovered when police were called to check on him after a GCHQ colleague voiced concerns. Police found no mess and no sign of a struggle.

Williams's uncle, William Hughes, said it was possible the government or another agency might be attempting to discredit his nephew by orchestrating a smear campaign. He said Williams's parents, who live on Anglesey, were "very, very angry" about false reports over his private life. He said his nephew's reputation was being destroyed by the "horrible and completely fictitious accounts".

Last week a pathologist was unable to establish a cause of death. Toxicology tests will determine if he was poisoned, or if drugs or alcohol were a factor.

There have been claims that Williams was killed by someone he knew, after reports that thousands of pounds were paid into and withdrawn from his bank account in the days leading up to his death. Police said such reports were "pure speculation".

Williams is known to have been a private man, a mathematical prodigy who studied at Bangor University for a degree at 13, emerging with first-class honours. He later attended St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he failed to complete his studies and returned to GCHQ, where he joined a contingent of keen cyclists.

Williams regularly travelled to the United States, where it is understood that he worked at the National Security Agency at Fort Meade in Maryland, the US government's listening post and the largest intelligence agency in the world.

He was sent to MI6's station in Kabul where he is thought to have helped in breaking codes used by the Taliban. Last year he moved on secondment to MI6. He was due to return to GCHQ at the start of next month.

numeral - August 30, 2010 04:21 PM (GMT)

The dead MI6 spy was an unsung hero, so why are shadowy figures trying to blacken his name?

By Melanie Phillips
Last updated at 10:13 AM on 30th August 2010

George Smiley would never have behaved like this. Ever since the body of the GCHQ code-breaker Gareth Williams was discovered stuffed into a hold-all in his bath, we have been treated to a stream of unsavoury and contradictory leaks from mysterious sources.

The story is throwing up more obfuscatory trade-craft than a John Le Carr novel. Of course, the secret intelligence world must of necessity work in a deeply shadowy way - concealing its tracks, laying false trails and employing sundry other means of disinformation.

It does so in order to keep this country safe from its enemies. So much is generally accepted.

But when one of its number is found apparently murdered in a flat in central London, you do not expect these black arts of subterfuge to continue.

You certainly don't expect them to thwart the investigation of an apparently sinister death or cause further and needless distress to the dead man's bereaved parents.

Yet this is precisely what seems to have happened after the discovery of Mr Williams's body.

It appears that he was no ordinary GCHQ operative but a vitally important contributor to the defence of the West.

A brilliant mathematical boffin, he was helping to oversee a network which links satellites and super-computers in Britain and the U.S. with those of other key allies.

He had also worked on breaking coded Taliban messages, helping to save the lives of countless British and other Nato soldiers under attack in Afghanistan.

So his death would seem to have serious security implications of one kind or another - including the possibility that he was murdered by enemies of this country.

Yet shadowy unnamed sources started putting it about that 'bondage equipment and gay paraphernalia' were found in his flat.

The implication was that his death was caused by some seedy sadomasochistic practice that went wrong.

At a stroke, Mr Williams's reputation was trashed - transforming him from an unsung hero of his nation into the sordid author of his own terminal misfortune.

Not surprisingly, this planted suggestion greatly upset his grieving family, who protested at the 'horrible and completely fictitious accounts of his private life'.

More remarkably, it was refuted in the strongest possible terms by the police who said no such paraphernalia had been found in Mr Williams's flat - although they wouldn't comment on the suggestion that he was indeed gay.

None of us has the faintest idea why or how he died. But why would these shadowy sources - whoever they may be - want to blacken his name like this? Of course, it is possible that he was killed by a lover.

Most killings, after all, have a rather more prosaic cause than an assassination perpetrated by clandestine agents.

But why plant this suggestion - and in the most lurid and apparently untruthful way - before the police have even established how or when he met his death?

Maybe a clue lies in the further claim that some 18,000 disappeared from one of his bank accounts two months ago - money reportedly moved 'by complex means', leading to speculation that Mr Williams was being blackmailed.

It is possible there is an entirely innocent explanation for all that, too. But why are we being treated to this drip-drip of partial, sensational and contradictory information while a criminal investigation is going on?

It all sounds disturbingly similar to the case of Jonathan Moyle, another British intelligence agent whose body was found hanging inside a hotel wardrobe in the Chilean capital Santiago in 1990 with a padded noose around his neck.

He had been investigating a company which was modifying helicopters, possibly to carry nuclear weapons, to sell to the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

But MI6 planted the suggestion that he had died while engaged in an auto-erotic act. It took his outraged father to discover that his son had probably been drugged, suffocated, injected with a lethal substance and then strung up in the wardrobe - a view supported by the British coroner, who returned a verdict of unlawful killing at his inquest eight years later.

In the Williams case, it appears that a turf-war has broken out between the police and the intelligence world, with the police complaining that the spooks are hindering their investigation.


So just what does the intelligence world want to cover up in this case? Of course, it is possible that disclosure of the precise circumstances of Mr Williams's death would compromise national security in some way.

But it is also possible there is a less honourable motive for the dirty tricks being played in this investigation.

Maybe the intelligence world doesn't want us to know that it didn't vet Mr Williams thoroughly enough; or alternatvely that it shockingly failed to protect the life of its invaluable code-breaker from foreign or terrorist assailants; or maybe it wants to conceal the identity of a country or group that killed him in order to serve some diplomatic end or other.

Who knows? All we can see is that some very peculiar game is being played around this man's demise.

And it's hard not to put this together with that other mystery over the death of the weapons expert Dr David Kelly in 2003.

He was said to have committed suicide during the controversy over the Iraq war - a conclusion endorsed by the official inquiry that replaced an inquest into his death.

Yet the evidence suggests that he could not have killed himself, as we have been told, by slitting his ulnar artery and taking an overdose of pills - not least because there was not much blood at the scene and fewer than one tablet was found in his stomach.

We also learn that people who wanted or needed to give evidence at the inquiry were never called to do so.

Now the pathologist who inspected his body has insisted this was a 'textbook suicide' - an account that raises more questions than it answers.


True, the idea that Dr Kelly was murdered and that this was covered up in an official conspiracy seems too implausible to be true.

Yet he did possess unique expertise in biological weapons intelligence. So there was a long list of terror organisations or rogue states that may have wanted him dead.

And if it is indeed true that the intelligence world sometimes plants false information that key operatives who have been murdered have instead been responsible for their own deaths, then the questions about Dr Kelly's 'suicide' become even more urgent.

No one expects the intelligence services to reveal their trade secrets or to compromise national security.

But they are also the servants of a free society. And that means they must observe due process - which means unexplained deaths must be properly investigated.

That means a transparent and thorough investigation. It means holding a proper inquest where evidence about the cause of death can be properly aired and interrogated. And it means not dripping salacious snippets manipulatively into the public domain.

We must also not lose sight of the fact that, however they died, the loss of both David Kelly and now Gareth Williams has deprived us of two of the most brilliant minds in the intelligence world.

With their deaths, the defences of this country have been left that much weaker.

The coincidence of two random and unfortunate events? Perhaps. Who knows?

At this rate, none of us will do so.

numeral - August 31, 2010 01:21 AM (GMT)

Was MI6 spy victim of the perfect murder?

By Charlotte Gill and Emily Andrews
Last updated at 1:27 AM on 31st August 2010

Pathologists are investigating whether MI6 spy Gareth Williams could have been the victim of the perfect murder.

There are no signs of a violent struggle on the body of the cipher and codes specialist and it is possible that the cause of his death will never be fully discovered.

Doctors examining the body of the 31-year-old for clues are focusing on any evidence which would suggest a professional hit and are scrutinising the area around his neck, sources said.

A seasoned assassin may be able to inflict a discreet neck wound that could kill even though it would not look as obvious as a snapped neck.

Detectives are keenly awaiting the results of toxicology tests in the hope they will reveal some clues as to how Mr Williams died.

They could indicate whether the cycling fanatic was smothered or if he was drugged.

One theory is that he could have been injected with a deadly toxin which is not immediately identifiable by toxicologists.

In the 2006 poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvenenko, it took weeks for investigators to discover that the killer substance was polonium 210.

Using high-tech cell site analysis, police are also trawling through hundreds of numbers for mobile phones which were used in the close vicinity of Mr Williamss flat at the time he is thought to have died to see if any names registered to the phones throw up clues.

The technique will also help detectives piece together his last movements by tracking his mobile phone.

Such analysis can pinpoint where a phone was used to cells, an area which can be as precise as 200 square yards.

Police are also sifting through Mr Williamss SIM card records to trace every call that he made.

Officers on the case have yet to discover a motive for his murder.

There is no evidence so far to suggest that he was gay and Scotland Yard has denied speculation that gay paraphernalia was discovered in the flat where his body was found or that there is any link to a male escort.

His family and friends reacted furiously to untruths that he led a colourful homosexual
lifestyle, claiming the rumours could be government smears aimed at discrediting him.

They have told police that Mr Williams was a private, reserved man who was close to his family and loved his job.

He was found dead last Monday at his 400,000 flat in Pimlico, central London, just half a mile from the headquarters of MI6. His body was discovered in the bath stuffed into a sports holdall.

One line of inquiry is that Mr Williams could have died in an accident and that his body was later moved for some reason.

Although it is highly likely that he was murdered, the Metropolitan Police continue to describe his death as suspicious and unexplained.

Mr Williams is said to have played an important role in the development of a highly sensitive and secret electronic intelligence gathering system called Echelon and was helping with a new system to monitor internet phone calls such as Skype.

There have been no arrests in the case so far.

On Friday Scotland Yard issued an appeal to anyone who knew Mr Williams or may have seen him in the eight days before his body was found to come forward.

numeral - September 1, 2010 02:07 AM (GMT)

Spy murder case could be too sensitive for court

The true explanation for the murder of Gareth Williams, the MI6 codebreaker found dead in a bath, may have to be kept secret even if his killer is found and put on trial, lawyers have warned.

By John Bingham
Published: 8:00AM BST 31 Aug 2010

The intense secrecy surrounding the investigation has prompted speculation that any future court case could be the first murder trial in British legal history to be held entirely behind closed doors.

Mr Williams, 31, an employee of GCHQ, the governments listening post in Cheltenham, Glos, who was working on secondment to MI6 in London, was found dead at a flat in London last week.

No one has been arrested and police have been investigating Mr Williamss background as well as his movements in the days before his death.

But it is thought that the unique level of sensitivity around the case with the dead man, his workmates, his movements and even the flat where he was found all linked to the security services could make any future court case virtually impossible to try in public.

Lawyers said that powers already available under the criminal procedure rules 2005 could be used by a judge to hold all or part of any future trial in secret for reasons of national security.

Under a separate procedure the prosecution could even apply for a Public Interest Immunity certificate banning sensitive evidence being disclosed even to the defence.

Similar powers were recently used by David Miliband, the former Foreign Secretary, in an attempt to prevent three senior judges disclosing details about the treatment of Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantnamo Bay detainee.

In 2008 the case of Wang Yam, a financial adviser accused of murdering Allan Chappelow, an 86-year-old writer, made legal history when it was heard partly in secret.

The public and press were excluded while the defence case was heard, despite objections from Yams legal team, on national security grounds after a PII certificate was granted, following an application from Jacqui Smith, then the Home Secretary.

With details of the investigation into Mr Williamss death already clouded in secrecy, lawyers said that a similar approach could be taken in any future court case, with the entire trial potentially held in private.

The runes are that they are desperate, almost at any cost, to keep this under wraps," said Mark Stephens, a partner at Finers Stephens Innocent, who led a legal challenge in the Binyam Mohamed case.

It may be that there is a genuine national security interest but that will be very limited.

What on has to be guarding against is that somebody is claiming national security in the interests of covering up a degree of embarrassment or incompetence or some other interest which isnt national security. Dan Hyde, a consultant at Cubism Law, said: On the face of it there certainly seem to be parallels that can be drawn from the case of Allan Chappelow.

That was a case where there were public interest immunity issues and as a result it was one of those very rare cases in which the defence was presented in camera, that is in private.

It seems this is a case that is surrounded by intrigue, you have someone who was working for MI6, his body was found in a bag and the police did not categorise it as a murder inquiry.

numeral - September 1, 2010 06:23 PM (GMT)

Body of MI6 spy had been padlocked into sports bag

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 12:04 PM on 1st September 2010

An MI6 codebreaker whose partially decomposed body was found in a holdall in his bath had been padlocked into the bag, an inquest heard today.

Gareth Williams, 31, was found dead in his 400,000 flat in Pimlico half a mile from MI6 headquarters in Vauxhall.

However, the cause of his death has still not been established nine days after his body was found despite two post mortem examinations being carried out.

Police broke into his flat after colleagues said they had not seen him at work.

They found his corpse locked inside a large sportsbag in his bath, today's hearing was told.

Police have yet to formally declare a murder investigation, describing the death as 'suspicious and unexplained'.

The inquest into the death opened and was adjourned this morning during a brief hearing at Westminster Coroner's Court in central London.

Coroner Dr Paul Knapman said: 'I have a resume here which says to me that on Monday August 23 police were called to check on the welfare of Gareth Williams at his home address as he had not been seen at work.

'At about 6.30pm that evening I understand police entered the premises. They found a large holdall in the bath in the en suite bathroom of the main bedroom.

'The holdall was padlocked shut and inside was a lifeless body, and it appeared that the body was in an advanced state of decay.

'Following this various specialist departments of the Metropolitan Police were called and it was confirmed it was a male and, as we have heard, the description matched Gareth Williams. The Homicide and Serious Crime Command were much involved.

'A post-mortem was carried out at that time. We will call that the first post mortem, it was performed by Dr Ben Swift on Wednesday August 25.

'This failed to establish the cause of death and so further tests are being carried out.'

The coroner's account was confirmed by Detective Chief Inspector Jacqueline Sebire, who is leading the investigation into the death.

Dr Knapman asked her: 'As far as the Met is concerned is there anything that you wish to appeal for help with?'

DCI Sebire replied: 'This remains an unexplained death. We would appeal for any witnesses who saw Mr Williams in any circumstances after August 11 onwards until the 23 when he was discovered.' 

The coroner asked if any of cycling and fitness fanatic Mr Williams' family were in court, and his officer Kim Bedwell said they were not present.

Ms Bedwell added: 'The cause of death has not been established, and further investigations are required.'

Dr Knapman said: 'As always the family will be anxious to have the body released following post mortem.

'We have talked about this and I am not inclined to allow this to occur at the present time.

'What I'm going to do is adjourn this case for one week until Wednesday September 8. By that time I'm happy we will have been in touch [with the police].

'There will be no formal proceedings in this court, and another date will be set for a review to consider the release of the body in this case - so it's not going to happen before next Wednesday.

'No doubt we can be in touch about how any tests and enquiries are going.'

numeral - September 4, 2010 11:43 PM (GMT)

A secret stalker. Witnesses who won't talk... but the most tantalising question of all is... Who's got the spy-in-the-bag's missing laptop?

By Sue Reid
Last updated at 3:04 AM on 4th September 2010

Number 36 Alderney Street stands in a terrace of tall white houses with gleaming door knockers at the heart of a London enclave the posh estate agents call alpha territory.

The Queens cousin lives down the road of million-pound homes and for 30 years Mimmo dIschia, a nearby Italian eaterie, has been a favourite of the Duchess of Cornwall and film stars Joan Collins and Anthony Hopkins.

Even this week, after the strange murder at Number 36 of young British spy Gareth Williams, there is little to show much has changed.

Nothing, that is, apart from the frantic comings and goings by men in suits from the British secret service, MI6, and detectives from Scotland Yard.

The house is where the decomposing body of Mr Williams, padlocked into a sports holdall and thrown into the bath of his top-floor flat, was discovered by police at 6.30 on the evening of Monday, August 23.

The maths genius, loner and cycling fanatic had not turned up for work as a cipher and codes expert at the headquarters of MI6, half a mile from Alderney Street, on the banks of the Thames at Vauxhall.

Today, the mystery over his death is deepening. Was he killed because of his professional life or his private one? Was it an impromptu killing or one that was planned?

Did he die in the top-floor flat after letting in his own killer? Or was he murdered elsewhere by someone who stole his flat keys, before carrying him back and dumping him?

Is it possible that despite his reputation for clean living, an aspect of his private life has led the young spy into danger? Scotland Yard has not ruled out that a woman, or indeed a man, may have been at his flat in the hours before his death. Was she or he invited there to play a sex game that went wrong?

It is, of course, just another question that needs to be answered about the spy who was on loan to MI6 from UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the countrys top-secret listening post in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

When Mr Williamss gruesome death first became public knowledge, there were lurid and unproven rumours about his private affairs.

Speculation that bondage equipment and gay paraphernalia had been found at the flat was later dismissed as garbage by Scotland Yard.

His parents, Ian and Ellen, who live in a bungalow in Holyhead, Anglesey, were horrified at the unsavoury claims about their bachelor sons supposedly wild homosexual lifestyle.

The family insist he lived an exemplary existence and was not gay. A friend of Mr Williams said that the spy was asexual, and showed little interest in having a relationship with a man or a woman.

A first post-mortem failed to find the cause of his death. A second examination of his body took place a few days ago to unravel if he was drugged, poisoned or smothered. The results of this are still being analysed.

Yet, in a worrying twist, the Mail understands that a turf war has broken out between the police and MI6, with some police officers complaining that the spooks are hindering their investigation into the spys death.

The Mail has learned from sources close to the investigation that Mr Williams informed MI6 that he believed he was being followed in the months before his death, though murder squad detectives say they have not been told this.

This suggests that every aspect of his life at work and at home should be put under the microscope. However, there is frustration at Scotland Yard that the security concerns of MI6 are stopping this wide-sweep inquiry happening.

Police attempts to quiz two spies still working at GCHQ who knew Mr Williams well have been unsuccessful and some detectives suspect they have been blocked by both MI6 and GCHQ. It is also understood the

murder squad was unable to get to one of his closest friends, a former GCHQ spy.

The man lived at the Alderney Street safe house in 2005 and visited there earlier this year. He knows the day-to-day movements of Mr Williams and that is why he is important, added our source.

Scotland Yard murder detectives were this week also waiting to quiz another former GCHQ employee, who suddenly moved to America from Cheltenham six weeks ago and is said to be a best friend of the dead codebreaker.

There is also friction between MI6 and GCHQ over the level of protection given to Mr Williams while on his London secondment. Some people feel that he was sent to MI6 on secondment as a goodwill gesture and the intelligence service then lost GCHQs man, said a source.

It is a troubling backdrop to any major murder investigation, especially one into an expert codebreaker who was playing a significant role in protecting Britain.

Meanwhile, the Mail has learned of intriguing riddles about his death. The spys brain showed no signs of bruising, indicating he was not knocked unconscious before he died.

This has led to speculation that he may have been killed with a tiny injection of poison, possibly through his inner ear. If so, the needle mark would be almost invisible to the naked eye.

Another riddle is that Mr Williamss personal computer is thought to be missing. He had designed the small machine to his own specifications and it cannot be found, the Mail has been told.

The laptop, which Scotland Yard refuses to officially confirm is missing, is crucial to the investigation. It could be a vital window on Mr Williamss private life, his innermost thoughts, any transfers to and from his online bank account and would reveal if he had money problems.
Gareth Williams schoolboy

Bright boy: Gareth Williams, centre, with classmates in 1987

Importantly, it will help trace his movements between the time he was last seen alive, on August 15, and the discovery of his body eight days later in his flat, where there was no sign of a break-in.

This will help pinpoint the time of his death, which is essential to finding a killer. Mr Williamss bank and credit cards were used during these crucial eight days.

Troublingly, because it is not known when he died, it has been impossible to discover if they were used by him, or someone who had stolen them from him and was involved in his murder.

In a further conundrum, one of the first police officers who entered the flat after Mr Williams was discovered dead saw some white powder on several surfaces in the kitchen and living room. Although this could prove innocent, the powder is being tested in case it is cocaine or another drug.

In particular, some Scotland Yard detectives believe a public appeal for sightings of Mr Williams in the missing days before his death is essential to solve the murder mystery.

It would involve the release of more photographs and details about his lifestyle, but it is understood to have been ruled out by MI6, which is worried that terrorists might use the information to identify other British spies and their own secrets.

It all sounds disturbingly similar to the case of 28-year-old journalist Jonathan Moyle, another British intelligence agent, whose body was found hanging inside a hotel wardrobe in the Chilean capital Santiago in 1990 with a padded noose around his neck.

He had been investigating a company ostensibly for his British defence magazine which was modifying helicopters, possibly to carry nuclear weapons, to sell to the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Williams Family Home

The family home: Mr Williams was raised in Holyhead by parents Ian and Ellen

But his friends and family believe security sources planted the suggestion that he had died while engaged in an auto-erotic act and tried to stand in the way of the familys own inquiries.

It took his outraged father to expose the cover-up and find out that his son had been drugged, suffocated, injected with a lethal substance and then strung up in the wardrobe, a view supported by the British coroner, who returned a verdict of unlawful killing at his inquest eight years later.

This week, the Mail traced Mr Moyles former fiance Annette Kissenbeck to her home in Germany, where she said the latest death of a British spy in a bag brings back painful memories.

The British intelligence services tried to smear Jonathan by suggesting he was sexually deviant, she said. I felt so helpless and alone trying to stand up to what was untrue against such powerful and shadowy forces..

The rumour that Moyle indulged in auto-erotic experiences first surfaced at a British embassy cocktail party attended by journalists in Santiago, adding weight to the Chilean claim that he had died by his own hand.

Annette says both were smears to cover up the truth about the murder and the illicit trade with Iraq. Jonathan had everything to live for. We were totally in love with each other and about to get married, said Annette this week at her home in Essen, where she works as one of Germanys leading child doctors.

A year after his death, a Chilean judicial investigation concluded that Moyle had been murdered. But two years later, in 1993, the murder investigation was wrapped up without a single suspect being arrested.

Jonathan just wasnt the type to be depressed. And never in all the time we were together was there any hint that he was into auto-erotic sex, said Annette this week.

Even today, she is convinced that the spread of false information was deliberately orchestrated by shadowy figures in British secret services to cover up their own knowledge of the helicopter sales and to protect the UKs relationship with Chile.

So could the extraordinary story of Jonathan Moyle shed any light on the death of Gareth Williams?

Williams played a key role in the worlds most sensitive and secretive electronic intelligence-gathering system.

He was helping to oversee a network called Echelon. It links satellites and super computers in Britain and the nations of our Western allies, including the U.S.

Set up to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Echelon now eavesdrops on terrorists, such as the Taliban in Afghanistan, threatening British security.

In particular, it listens for key words and phrases that might suggest that an attack on this country is being planned by overseas terrorist cells or home-grown subversives.

He was signed up by GCHQ at 21 while studying for a post-graduate maths certificate at Cambridge, a favourite recruiting ground for the secret services.

His career path was meteoric. Williams had two passports, which allowed him to travel incognito if necessary. Soon he was working for long spells in Afghanistan for our secret services.

Four times a year, he paid visits to America to liaise with the powerful National Security Agency in Fort Meade in Maryland.

When he died, he was living rent-free at Alderney Street, which was bought by MI6 as a safe house ten years ago.

It is one of many owned by MI6 dotted around Pimlico, which have been swept for listening devices and kept under surveillance. They are used to put up visiting operatives or to conduct de-briefings in total secrecy.

Mr Williams was due to return to his former flat, rented from a landlady, in Cheltenham yesterday and start back at work at GCHQ later this month.

An associate of Mr Williams told the Mail this week: Gareth really didnt like London, although he was sent on secondment to MI6 more than once.

He suffered it because he had to for his career. He did make a few friends, mainly others sent from GCHQ in Cheltenham who also lived at this MI6 place in Alderney Street.

They are the people that know the most about how he spent his spare time over the past few months and MI6 must let the police murder squad speak to them.

So will the truth about death of the young spy Gareth Williams ever come to light amid the smears and secrecy of the murky world of espionage?

Today, almost a fortnight after the tragic discovery at 36 Alderney Street, you wouldnt be wise to put money on it. Even if your name was James Bond or George Smiley.

numeral - September 5, 2010 05:25 PM (GMT)

Was body of MI6 spy submerged in mystery fluid to speed up decay?

By Abul Taher and Ian Gallagher
Last updated at 12:44 PM on 5th September 2010

The policeman who found the body of MI6 codebreaker Gareth Williams said it was submerged in fluid, The Mail on Sunday has learned.

An inquest heard last week that the 31-year-old spy was padlocked in a sports hold-all and left in the bath of his two-bedroom flat in Pimlico, Central London.

But the disclosure that he was also covered by liquid not thought to be blood or water has raised fears that a substance was used to accelerate decay and complicate toxicology tests.

The revelation came as new details emerged of the highly sensitive nature of Mr Williamss work.

A source said he had the highest security clearance available to an intelligence officer and was part of a secretive cell that created devices that can steal data from mobiles and laptops.

Now, nearly two weeks after cycling enthusiast Mr Williams was found in his flat, police are apparently no nearer to learning how or when he died.

This is despite a post-mortem, a second examination and toxicology tests, the results of which might not be available for weeks.

Sources close to the inquiry say the PC who found the body described it as being in fluid when he radioed for assistance. Detectives at the scene are understood to have used the same word in their reports.

Immediately after making the discovery at the flat, the PC said: This is a murder scene.

Mr Williams, from Anglesey, North Wales, worked as a cipher and codes expert for the Governments eavesdropping centre GCHQ in Cheltenham.

He was on a year-long secondment to MI6 which was due to end days after he was found dead.

Police and security sources have indicated that the explanation for his death is more likely to be found in his personal life rather than his work.

But speculation that he was the victim of a professional hit was given credence last night after further details of his work were disclosed.

He was involved in some very sensitive projects, known as codeword protected, said a security expert.

This meant that only the people in his cell would know what he was working on, and nobody else in his organisation.

You are signed in to these projects and once you finish one you are signed out and you no longer have access to any data or news about what is happening in the project.

Mr Williams a child prodigy who had a degree in maths at 17 and then a PhD in the subject was part of a team that created devices which hook on to mobiles and laptops.

It is an aggressive form of Bluetooth or similar wireless technology, said the security expert.

He said such devices would be used by spies on the ground to steal data from the handsets of unsuspecting terrorists, organised criminals or officers from rival intelligence agencies.

Traditionally, there has been a separation of MI6 and GCHQ, said the expert. MI6 has been full of the James Bond types working on the ground and GCHQ is filled with boffins with beards who are doing their scientific stuff.

But recently there has been a merger of these agencies work and Williams was at the forefront of that. This was why he was on secondment to MI6.

He added that Mr Williams did similar work when he had stints at the National Security Agency in America.

The NSA is the equivalent of GCHQ and has been leading the Wests attempts to intercept communication between Al Qaeda cells.

Mr Williams worked for the Special Delivery Team, a unit set up in the NSA to create advanced bugging and intercepting devices.

If you just look at Williamss CV, you know he has worked in some of the most important data-mining centres in the UK and US. His salary is no indication of his rank, said the expert. 

It has also emerged that before his secondment to MI6, Mr Williams worked briefly for MI5, the domestic security agency. As part of that work, he was sent to Bulgaria on a secret mission.

A source close to the investigation said that on August 23 police were asked to check on Mr Williamss flat as he had not shown up for work. Just before 6pm, a PC went to the Georgian townhouse in Alderney Street, which has been converted into four flats on four floors. Mr Williams had the top one.

The PC could not get into the house so the letting agent, W.  A. Ellis, was called and a woman employee arrived with keys.

She hovered at Mr Williamss door as the PC went inside. Within minutes he emerged quickly from the en suite bathroom and escorted the woman back downstairs. He then told her: You stay here. This is now a murder scene.

This weekend, staff at W. A. Ellis, of Knightsbridge, refused to confirm details.
A spokeswoman said: 36 Alderney Street is owned by a private company, New Rodina.

There has been speculation that it is linked to MI6 or that it is a front for MI6. Our clients do not have any links to MI6 whatsoever and are distressed by the death of Mr Williams.

numeral - September 5, 2010 09:16 PM (GMT)


Sunday September 5,2010
By James Murray

MURDERED spy Gareth Williams feared he was being followed by two men and told bosses at MI6 he thought he was being targeted by foreign agents.

His superiors were not convinced, however, and took no action to discover the identity of the men, said to be white and in their 40s.

Superfit cyclist Mr Williams, 31, also raised his concerns with officials at GCHQ, the Government's communications headquarters.

He had been on secondment to M16 from GCHQ when he was found dead inside a padlocked sports bag in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, west London, on August 23. There were no signs of forced entry. The sensational new claims come from a source close to the investigation.

Scotland Yard and GCHQ declined to comment yesterday, saying they would not confirm or deny the allegations.

The source said: 'About six months ago Mr Williams complained to people at M16 that he thought he was being followed.

'He said he kept seeing the individuals near his home, at bus stops and hanging around shops where he was staying. He was told they could just be local people, but he felt there was more to it.

'He became frustrated by the response from the people at M16 and so he raised it with his colleagues at GCHQ. He was concerned that people at M16 were not taking his claims seriously.'

Scotland Yard detectives are now going through hours of CCTV footage from the Pimlico area to see if they can spot the men Mr Williams thought were tailing him. However, if Mr Williams was being trailed by foreign spies it is likely they would have taken steps to ensure they were not caught on CCTV.

numeral - September 6, 2010 03:12 PM (GMT)

Police appeal over death of MI6 worker Gareth Williams

Police investigating the death of MI6 worker Gareth Williams have appealed for help in tracing two people seen entering his central London flat.

Mr Williams' naked body was found in a bag in the bathroom of his Pimlico home by police on 23 August.

Detectives want to speak to a man and a woman, both of Mediterranean appearance, who called at the 30-year-old's home in June or July.

CCTV images of Mr Williams, captured on 14 and 15 August, have been released.

Officers said Mr Williams, from Anglesey, was found unclothed, in a zipped and padlocked red North Face holdall, which was in an empty bath in the ensuite bathroom.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said there had been no forced entry into the flat, adding: "We do not believe there is any property missing.

"There is no suggestion the items within the flat were specifically posed. No drugs, or indications of drug usage were recovered."
'Complex death'

Scotland Yard said no trace of alcohol, routine or recreational drugs were found following tests on the body of Mr Williams.

Det Ch Insp Jacqueline Sebire said: "This remains a complex unexplained death inquiry.

"I would appeal to anyone who may have seen, or had contact with Gareth in the period between 11th and 23rd August to come forward and speak with us."

Detectives have released CCTV images of the 30-year-old entering Holland Park Underground station at about 1500 BST on 14 August.

Since returning from a planned holiday in the US on 11 August, he went shopping "on a number of occasions" in the West End and Knightsbridge areas", police said.

He also went into Harrods on 15 August, after visiting a cash machine, and then, at about 1430 BST, he was seen on CCTV images in Hans Crescent, heading towards Sloane Street, near the Dolce and Gabbana store.

numeral - September 8, 2010 08:27 PM (GMT)

Chester-based sister of dead MI6 spy helping Scotland Yard investigation

Sep 8 2010 by David Holmes, Ellesmere Port Pioneer

THE Chester-based sister of MI6 spy Gareth Williams has been helping Scotland Yard detectives investigating his mysterious death.

Ceri Subbe, who lives with husband Chris in Brook Lane, Chester, has been to the capital to help officers piece together the final movements of Mr Williams, whose body was found in a holdall in a bath at his London flat.

The News of World reports it was Mrs Subbe, a physiotherapist at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, where her husband is a doctor, who raised the alarm after her brother failed to return calls.

Her evidence has undermined claims his body lay undiscovered for a fortnight until its discovery on Monday of last week she spoke to him on the phone the previous Wednesday.

Pathologists have been unable to explain how the 31-year-old code-breaker, who worked at GCHQ and was seconded to MI6, died. There were no obvious injuries on his body and further tests are being carried out.

Although detectives are working on the assumption that he was murdered, they have not ruled out the possibility that Mr Williams died in an accident, from an overdose or even suicide.

One theory is that someone who was present at the time panicked and put his body in the bag but failed to remove it.

The deceaseds family, who live in Anglesey, are said to be furious about tabloid claims that he had a secret double life, including suggestions he was gay or a transvestite.

A keen cyclist, Mr Williams was a maths expert who gained a first class degree in maths from Bangor University at just 17 before gaining a postgraduate certificate from Cambridge University.

There was nobody at home when reporters called at Mrs Subbes home, which is on the market for 240,000.

numeral - September 10, 2010 11:18 PM (GMT)

Spy's family demand the truth: Relatives of dead MI6 man demand body for independent tests

By Sam Greenhill and Charlotte Gill
Last updated at 10:42 PM on 10th September 2010

The family of murdered MI6 spy Gareth Williams have demanded his body back, it emerged last night.

They would like to commission their own post-mortem examination, it is understood.

It is a clear sign they are rapidly running out of patience with the police investigation into his death.

The coroner in charge of the case has consistently refused to release the codebreaker's body because detectives have still to discover exactly how he died.

But this delay is infuriating the brilliant mathematician's relatives in North Wales.

They have not been able to hold a funeral and are equally unhappy about the apparent lack of progress into explaining what happened to the 31-year-old.

Yesterday a source close to the family said: 'It is becoming very frustrating trying to get to the bottom of whatever has happened. 'There are just so many things we still don't know.

'We have made it clear to the police that we want the body back as soon as possible.'

It is more than three weeks since detectives began investigating the murder.

Mr Williams's naked body was found in a sports bag in the bath of his top-floor London flat near MI6 headquarters on August 23.

There were no obvious signs of an intruder or clues to how he died and it was later revealed the bag had been padlocked.

Police have announced that the first postmortem examination, carried out two days after Mr Williams's body was found, and toxicology tests were inconclusive.

There was no outward sign that he met a violent death and there was no trace of drugs or alcohol in his blood.

Intriguingly, a further 'examination of the body' was undertaken last week but investigators have refused to reveal why the procedure was carried out or what it revealed.

Pathologists have been searching for signs of whether a rare drug or poison was used.

Last Monday, in their first public appeal, police announced they were seeking a man and a woman, both of Mediterranean appearance, who called at No. 36 Alderney Street in June or July, late one evening, and were let into the communal front door.

Yesterday police renewed their appeal, saying: 'They are yet to contact police and officers are still keen for this couple to come forward.'

On Wednesday the coroner, Dr Paul Knapman, and detectives met behind closed doors to discuss the progress of the case.

Mystery surrounds what was discussed and no announcement has been made for when the next hearing will take place.

But it is known a decision was taken not to release the body to the family. A security source revealed: 'The family are not happy with the way it was going. All their questions are basically being met with one of two answers: that the information is unknown or not disclosable.

'Eventually, they said that if they were not going to be given answers, then they wanted to have his body back.

'They wanted to have their own tests carried out.'

The source said the family was considering paying for an independent pathologist to conduct an examination.

Detectives are struggling to piece together what happened to Mr Williams between the last time he was seen, captured on CCTV on August 15 shopping at Harrods, and eight days later when he was found.

Uniformed officers discovered his body that afternoon after being alerted by friends, family and MI6 that he was missing and not responding to calls.

Mr Williams worked for the Government's eavesdropping service GCHQ. He was an expert on ciphers and had been on a secondment to MI6 in London.

He had just returned from the U.S, where police said he had been on holiday, coming back to Britain on August 11.

Mr Williams lived for his job and was a cycling fanatic, regularly riding with his father around Anglesey and in local competitions with his club.

His parents, Ian, an engineer at Wylfa power station, and Ellen, who worked in education, live in a bungalow in Holyhead, Anglesey.

They have been horrified at unsavoury claims about their bachelor son's supposedly wild homosexual lifestyle.

They feared lurid allegations surrounding his private life, since denied, were planted as part of a 'dirty tricks' campaign.

Last night Scotland Yard said: 'We have got a family liaison officer working very closely with the family.'

numeral - September 12, 2010 09:05 AM (GMT)

Detectives believes dead MI6 spy may have zipped HIMSELF in bag in bizarre sex game that went wrong

By Simon Walters and Glen Owen
Last updated at 1:44 AM on 12th September 2010

    * WPC climbed into bag to show how he may have died

Police believe the MI6 spy found dead in a sports bag in a bath inside his flat may have died after a bizarre sex game went wrong, according to well-placed sources.

The Mail on Sunday has learned that a woman police officer climbed into the holdall in which codebreaker Gareth Williams naked body was found, re-enacting the events which it is thought could have led to his death.

She managed to zip up the bag and padlock it from the inside, leading investigators to conclude that Mr Williams may have done the same for sexual kicks and suffocated when he could not reopen it.

The theory was bolstered by the fact that a key to the padlock was found alongside his body inside the 150 bag.

Despite being crouched in the holdall, the police officer was able to squeeze her hand through a small gap between the padlock and the zip fastener and lock it from the inside.

Police believe Mr Williams may have gone through the same extraordinary routine, and then passed out, possibly as a result of panic when he was unable to reopen the padlock.

The identity of the officer who undertook the unusual police assignment is not known.

She was chosen partly because her petite size is similar to the slim and short frame of 31-year-old keep-fit fanatic Mr Williams.

His body was found in an extra-large North Face bag, a type which is favoured by explorers because of its 140 litres of storage capacity, durable material, double stitching, twin haul handles and locking zips.

Erotic asphyxiation is defined as the intentional restriction of oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal.

The practice claimed the life of Tory MP Stephen Milligan, whose body was found in 1994 with a bag over his head and an orange in his mouth.

user posted image
Trapped: Mr Williams body was found in a sports bag like this one. It is only 32 inches long and only slightly taller than a newspaper. Detectives believe he may have suffocated after accidentally locking himself inside

Figures have not been recorded for the number of auto-erotic fatalities (AEFs) in America, although it is estimated between 500 and 1,000 occur in the US every year.

Although most AEFs arise from the use of a noose to restrict the supply of oxygen, deaths have occurred after victims put themselves into bags.

In one example, a Yale University student died after zipping himself into an airtight vinyl bag and binding his hands.

Police have been mystified since cycling enthusiast Mr Williams was found dead inside his 400,000 two-bedroom flat in Pimlico, half-a-mile from the MI6 HQ in Westminster, three weeks ago.

The initial reaction of the police constable who discovered his body was: This is a murder scene.

There were also rumours that Mr Williams was the victim of a professional hit. Other theories included the suggestion that he had been murdered by Russian agents.

Tests on his body were ordered to establish whether he was poisoned, as happened when Polonium 210 radiation was used to murder exiled Russian secret agent Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006.

Initial toxicology tests showed no traces of alcohol or recreational drugs in Mr Williams system.

Police sources say that the results of more sophisticated tests, carried out to establish the cause of death, might not be known for up to a fortnight. 

The MI6 agents family have angrily accused the Government of running a dirty tricks campaign to blacken his name after reports that he was gay and a cross-dresser.

Police denied claims that gay magazines, bondage gear and the phone numbers of gay escort men were found in the apartment near his body.

Police also dismissed allegations of irregularities in his finances and that a top-secret laptop computer had gone missing from his flat.

Crucially, there was no evidence of violence and no cuts or bruises on Mr Williams body, suggesting there had been no struggle.

Nor was there any sign of forced entry to his flat, suggesting he either knew his killer and let them in or there was no killer.

Mr Williams, from Anglesey, North Wales, worked as a cipher and codes expert for the Governments eavesdropping centre GCHQ in Cheltenham. 

He was on a year-long secondment to MI6 which was due to end days after he was found dead.

A child prodigy who had a degree in maths at 17 and went on to obtain a PhD, Mr Williams had the highest security clearance available to an intelligence officer and was part of a secretive cell that created devices that can steal data from mobiles and laptops.

He carried out similar work on frequent visits to the National Security Agency in the US.
Mr Williams, who lived on his own and did not have a partner, returned from a planned holiday in the US on Wednesday, August 11.

Using his mobile phone to track his last whereabouts, police trawling through CCTV discovered that Mr Williams had made several shopping trips to Londons West End and Knightsbridge on August 14 and 15.

After visiting Harrods, he walked towards a nearby Dolce & Gabbana store, though he did not go in. It is the last time he was seen alive.

Last night a Scotland Yard spokesman said: It would be inappropriate to comment at this stage of the investigation. We are keeping an open mind about the case.

Mystery of meetings with couple in a cafe five miles from home


Gareth Williams had a series of mysterious meetings at a cafe in the weeks leading up to his death.

Witnesses said the MI6 codebreakers late-morning encounters at Patisserie Valerie in Holland Park, West London, took place twice a week and never lasted longer than a few minutes.

Mr Williams, who lived five miles away in Pimlico, usually met a man and a dark-haired woman in their early 30s, although the man occasionally turned up alone.

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Mysterious meetings: Spy Gareth Williams had a series of rendezvous with a couple at a Holland Park Patisserie according to waitresses Magdalena Kolakowska and Susana Ribeiro

Polish waitress Magdalena Kolakowska, 24, recalled that Mr Williams would sit at the back of the dimly lit cafe so he could keep an eye on the door.

Ordering an Americano coffee, he then waited for the couple to approach his table and speak to him. Miss Kolakowska added: They would come up to him as if they had suddenly just seen him and say, Hi. They would speak to him for two or three minutes and go. They would never sit down or have a coffee with him.

In all, she recalls about eight such encounters. She could not remember any items passing between them and heard nothing of their conversations because all three spoke in low voices.

But it was the brevity of the meetings coupled with their regularity that struck staff
as odd. They assumed that Mr Williams, who was dressed casually, was local.

Last week, police announced they were seeking a man and a woman, both of Mediterranean appearance, who called at Mr Williams home late one evening in June or July.

Although the man and woman at the cafe are roughly the same age as the couple being sought by police, staff say they did not look Mediterranean.

Patisserie Valerie is next to Holland Park Underground station, where Mr Williams was caught on CCTV on August 14, some 24 hours before he was last seen alive.

Inquiries by this newspaper have established that he visited Holland Park up to four times a week in the two months before his death.

Besides Patisserie Valerie, he went to other cafes and was seen at a nearby Hilton Hotel. He invariably arrived on his bicycle and was always seen between 10am and 1pm.

Holland Park is primarily an upmarket residential district, although a number
of countries, including Russia and Uzbekistan, maintain embassies there.

Another Polish waitress at Patisserie Valerie, 29-year-old Susana Ribeiro, also recalled seeing Mr Williams there the last occasion just after he had returned from a holiday in the US on August 11.

If he wasnt sitting inside at the back, he would park his bike at the lamp-post, sit at the middle table outside and have a coffee, she said.

Miss Kolakowska added: Some days he would bring a device with him that looked like an Apple iPad, but was much bigger, and he would watch news or some moving picture on it.

Vanessa Riley, a pensioner in her 60s who lives in a flat behind Holland Park station, said she saw Mr Williams in two other cafes near the station over the summer.

Mrs Riley became so concerned after she heard of his death she reported what she saw to police. All I can say is I saw him meeting people at these cafes, she said.

Last night police refused to be drawn on the significance of the sightings.

Detectives have already tracked Mr Williams movements to Holland Park, apparently by checking his journeys on his Oyster ticket, the plastic travel card commuters use on the Underground.

They took away CCTV footage from 29 different cameras at Holland Park station and have since released footage of Mr Williams arriving at the station on August 14 and, the following day, shopping in Harrods.

There were reports yesterday that Mr Williams family, upset at the slow progress of the police investigation into his death, want to commission their own post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, security sources said that Mr Williams was recruited by GCHQ after it became aware of his extraordinary prowess at computer games.

He was achieving rare high scores on these espionage and war games that are played on the internet, said a source. I know it sounds daft, but this is how he was discovered.

Two years ago, GCHQ ran an advertising campaign in online games, including Tom Clancys Splinter Cell Double Agent, to tempt web-savvy graduates to become spies.

numeral - September 12, 2010 10:09 AM (GMT)

Concern grows over foreign involvement in spy's death

Concern is growing within the intelligence community that the MI6 spy found dead in his London flat may have been the victim of a professional hit by a foreign power.

By Patrick Sawer and Gordon Thomas
Published: 9:00PM BST 11 Sep 2010

Sources have told this newspaper that Britain's intelligence services MI6, MI5 and GCHQ are liaising closely to establish whether Gareth Williams was targeted by a foreign power.

The 31-year-old was seconded from GCHQ to work on top-secret systems to defend British banks and transport infrastructure from cyber attack and to eavesdrop on terrorist communications.

As a result he may have come to the attention of foreign intelligence agencies.

Security service sources suggest that the most likely explanation for Mr Williams's death is still to be found in his private life, but they admit they are not yet certain and are considering a range of explanations.

Some officials are starting to believe the way the killing was carried out leaving few, if any, immediate clues as to the cause of death could point to a professionally-carried-out assassination.

Scotland Yard, which is leading the investigation into his death, said: "We're not at the stage where we can pinpoint how Mr Williams died and all avenues in this investigation remain open. We are keeping an open mind."

It is feared that by the time of his death last month Mr Williams's presence in London had become known to foreign spies, despite the fact he was living in a MI6 safe house with an alarm system linking him to nearby MI6 headquarters.

"It would have been part of their brief", said a British intelligence officer.

The 31-year-old maths and computer expert would have been regarded as a valuable asset for his knowledge of the inner-workings of GCHQ, the government's listening post in Cheltenham, and for his work on preventing cyber attacks on the banking and transport infrastructure.

It is understood Mr Williams's job at the time of his death was creating computer defences in the City of London. Williams would have had access to information which other countries would want to obtain.

The intelligence source said: "His job was to defend the banking system on which Britain's banking, commerce and all our public services depend. It was the kind of work that would have made him prime target for recruitment.

"He was also in a position to know about huge money transfers out of the Middle East which were linked to terror groups. It would be priceless data."

One theory being examined is that Mr Williams may have had an approach from a rival agency, and either rebuffed it without informing his superiors or initially agreed to co-operate then got cold feet.

If such an approach had been exposed there would have been severe political and diplomatic repercussions, making it expedient for Mr Williams to be killed.

It can be revealed that Williams had also played an important role in creating signal intelligence equipment, known as sigint, to listen to Taliban communications in Afghanistan.

He had helped in fitting out three Brittan-Norman Islander aircraft with this equipment to be used as airborne-listening stations.

Based at RAF Northolt in West London since 2007 they have flown over selected British cities searching for communications between suspected terrorists.

A key part of the equipment is the wide-band recorders that Mr Williams helped to develop. Each has the capacity to vacuum up continuous mobile phone traffic in a city the size of Bradford.

The "product" is then downloaded to GCHQ where state-of-the-art computers analyse the voices using voice-recognition software.

Mr Williams's knowledge of US intelligence agencies would have also been valuable. He spent several months at Menwith Hill, the secret listening station in Yorkshire used by the United States to intercept coded messages, and Fort Meade in Maryland, the home of the US's National Security Agency.

The death of Mr Williams has puzzled detectives since August 23, when his body was found inside a sports holdall, padlocked from the outside and left in the bath of the safe house where he was staying while on secondment to the service from his employer GCHQ, the government listening post.

There was no evidence of a struggle or a break in at the Pimlico flat and nothing had been stolen.

Although nothing has been discounted the evidence gathered so far suggests it is increasingly unlikely that Mr Williams was the victim of a random attack or a sex game that went wrong.

Pathologists have carried out two post-mortems, but both failed to establish how Mr Williams died, though the examination was complicated by the fact that the body was said to be in an "advanced state of decay".

What is known, however, is that Williams, a cycling enthusiast, had not been shot or stabbed and did not appear to have been strangled.

Scotland Yard say detectives are now awaiting the result of toxicology tests.

These would establish whether Mr Williams was poisoned using a deadly toxin such as strychnine, cyanide or thallium, administered in such a way as to leave no mark visible to the naked eye.

Sources state that Home Office pathologists are also looking for evidence that Mr Williams was smothered to death, a method that can leave no trace and is extremely hard to detect.

Concern about the possible involvement of a foreign agency has increased further following a public appeal issued last week [Monday, September 7] by Scotland Yard detectives, who are taking the lead in the investigation.

Detectives said they were trying to trace a couple Mediterranean appearance, aged between 20 and 30, who visited the house in Pimlico late one night in the weeks before Mr Williams died.

The Yard revealed the couple were the only people who had been seen around the time of his death at the property in Alderney Street not to be accounted for.

Neighbours told police the pair were let in through the communal front door late one evening, in either June or July. It is believed they were visiting Mr Williams and detectives want them to come forward so they can be eliminated from their inquiries.

Police have visited Mr Williams's landlady in Cheltenham, where he lived for 10 years before being seconded to MI6. They asked Jennifer Elliot about his working hours and lifestyle and about any friends or acquaintances who may have visited his lodgings.

Scotland Yard repeated its appeal for the 'Mediterranean couple' on Friday. A spokesman said: "We are still very keen to speak to the pair. They may have useful information."

Mr Williams's family are reportedly unhappy at the lack of progress in the investigation and are said to have demanded the return of his body. Reports say they would like to commission an independent own post-mortem examination into his death.

A source close to the family was reported as saying: "It is becoming very frustrating to get to the bottom of whatever has happened.

"There are just so many things we still don't know. We have made it clear to the police that we want the body back as soon as possible."

However, Dr Paul Knapman, the coroner in charge of the inquest, is reluctant to release the body until pathologists have completed their tests and established the cause of death.

numeral - September 15, 2010 06:31 PM (GMT)

US Expert to Solve Gareth Williams Death Mystery

Posted by Violeta Bahin on Sep 14th, 2010 and filed under Europe, News.

user posted image

Concern is growing within the intelligence community that the MI6 spy Gareth Williams, who was found dead in his London flat, may have been the victim of a professional hit man by a foreign power.

Now, a leading pathologist from US may fly this week to try to unravel the mystery behind the mystery death of Williams after a post-mortem examination failed to reveal the cause of death as detectives remain puzzled over his death. The said expert has been trained in CIA and FBI techniques to look for sophisticated methods of assassinations using hard-to-detect substances.

Reports claimed that Williams had told his bosses he believed he was being followed by two men. On Monday police discarded this idea then admitted they wanted to trace the mystery couple.

I would appeal to anyone who may have seen or had contact with Gareth in the period between August 11 and 23 to come forward and speak with us at the Incident Room on 0208 358 0200, or to remain anonymous by calling Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111, Detective Chief Inspector Jacqueline Sebire of Homicide and Serious Crime Command, who is leading the investigation, said.

Williams was discovered dead at his home on August 23. His naked remains were found inside a locked sports bag. He was working on systems to defend British banks and transport infrastructure from cyber attack and to eavesdrop on terrorist communications. He had been on assignment with the MI6 spy agency. He also played an important role creating equipment to listen to Taliban communications in Afghanistan and had helped to fit out three aircraft with the equipment, making them airborne-listening stations.

numeral - September 20, 2010 09:39 PM (GMT)

MI6 spy found in sports bag had been playing sex game, police believe

The spy whose naked body was found in a sports bag in an empty bath in Pimlico was probably involved in an unusual sex game, police now believe.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
Published: 6:00AM BST 20 Sep 2010

Having ruled out almost every other possibility, officers have come round to the view that Gareth Williams probably died after climbing into the bag which was then locked by another person.

It is unclear whether he did so on instructions from the other person or was locked in at his own request, but detectives believe that he was probably involved in some sado-masochistic game in which he got a kick from being helpless.

It is likely that once locked and left in the bag, he died from a combination of causes including suffocation and dehydration, which have been difficult to identify in a post-mortem.

The red North Face holdall was made from a laminate material and had reinforced seams, making it both hot and almost impossible to escape from. The top floor flat is likely to have heated up in the August weather, causing Mr Williams to pass out.

The bag was padlocked from the outside and officers believe the other person was supposed to return to the flat to release him but when they did so, they found him dead.

Scotland Yard is still seeking a Mediterranean couple aged between 20 and 30, who were let into the spys flat in Alderney Street, Pimlico, central London, late one evening in June or July.

They havent come forward and we have to ask ourselves why that would be, one source said.

Officers have been unwilling to ascribe motives to the killing before investigating all the options, which included the possibility that Mr Williams was murdered to prevent him continuing vital work into intercepting and decrypting messages sent by foreign powers.

But continuing toxicology tests have so far failed to find any signs of poisons in his system and previous tests have ruled out alcohol and recreational drugs. No bruising was found on the body, making strangulation unlikely.

Detectives from Scotland Yards Homicide Task Force investigating the case say they did not find any other signs of a sexual fetish at Mr Williamss flat, although investigations continue into his internet and telephone use.

They have been keen not to jump to conclusions in the interests of pursuing all possible leads but they now believe he took off his own clothes and see a sex game as the most likely scenario.

So far investigators have failed to positively identify whether someone else was in the flat around the time of the death but further fingerprint and DNA analysis is being conducted.

One source close to the inquiry told the Daily Telegraph: We began with a variety of less probable scenarios, eliminating each one until we ended up with the most likely. Human beings are funny things and they have all kinds of predilections. These bags have warnings about keeping them away from children because they can cause suffocation.

Mr Williams, 31, a keen cyclist and maths prodigy from Anglesey, North Wales, was found dead in the MI6 flat where he lived while he was on secondment from GCHQ.

He had returned from a holiday in the US on August 11 and was last seen alive on CCTV footage at Holland Park tube station on August 14 and shopping in Harrods in Knightsbridge the following day.

The post mortem results suggest he died soon afterwards but his body was not found until eight days later when colleagues raised the alarm.

CCTV cameras are not routinely fitted to the homes of the 2,200 spies employed by MI6, sources said.

numeral - September 21, 2010 07:34 AM (GMT)

MI6 murder mystery: how the spy got into the bath

Killers aimed to destroy any forensic residue after moving Gareth Williams body, says intelligence analyst

By Crispin Black

In the James Bond novels, only one of 007's fellow agents is ever killed: in Moonraker, 0011 disappears on a job in Singapore. In the films, a number of 00 agents are bumped off by the bad guys, notably 002, who is shot through the neck in Beirut by "the man with the golden gun". Roger Moore and Britt Ekland are dispatched to even the score.

But in real life the agents of Britain's intelligence agencies tend, like the rest of us, to die of natural causes in their beds. Kim Philby's bed was unfortunately in Moscow, but it was a bed nevertheless.

The suspicious death of the GCHQ cipher and code expert Gareth Williams is therefore a highly unusual event.

The post-mortems have been inconclusive and the police are currently awaiting the results of sophisticated tests for obscure poisons. It certainly looks like murder - but what kind of murder?

To begin with, it was reasonable for the police to assume that the reason for his death could be found in his private, not professional, life. Statistically this was the most likely option.

In police slang, this was probably 'an ordinary decent crime' rather than an assassination or terrorist-related. At some point an outraged husband or unsuitable sexual partner would emerge.

This is becoming less likely by the day. Go with the facts. If you find a neatly packed suitcase by the door it is because someone is about to leave - someone efficient. If you find a body in a padlocked bag in a bath, then what you see is what you get. The body is in a bag because it's going somewhere and it's in the bath because once it has been removed it is easy to destroy any forensic residue.

For some reason the disposal of the body was interrupted - but the killer or killers knew what they were doing.

Getting rid of a body is difficult for amateurs but easy enough if it's your trade. The IRA were good at it - so good that since the Good Friday Agreement, and as part of the reconciliation process, they have had difficulty in revealing the whereabouts of some of their unfortunate victims. At least some of them disappeared into meat processing factories close to the border. The moors and peat bogs outside Belfast still hold their secrets.

In the case of Gareth Williams, the omens are not good. The police are looking for a couple of "Mediterranean appearance" - what Scotland Yard used to call in less politically correct days 'swarthy'.

Apparently this couple were filmed going into the front door of Williams's flat. Broadcasting CCTV footage on national television is sadly a sign of desperation: the Crimestoppers approach to this baffling crime.

Maybe it was them. Maybe not. Maybe it's related to intelligence. Maybe not. But one thing is for sure: whoever killed Williams has killed before.

numeral - September 21, 2010 07:39 AM (GMT)

MI6 man locked himself in his holdall. Oh yes?

Latest theory about the death of Gareth Williams is preposterous, say security experts
By Jack Bremer

National security experts reached by The First Post last night have reacted with a mixture of astonishment, ridicule and suspicion to the idea that Gareth Williams, the MI6 agent found dead in a London flat last month, padlocked himself in a zip-up holdall in search of a sexual thrill and then suffocated because he couldn't get out again.

"With all due respect to Williams and his family, I haven't stopped laughing since I read the paper at breakfast," one former agent said. "It's more than unlikely - it's preposterous."

The hypothesis was reported by the Sunday Times, quoting anonymous "security sources".

The paper claimed police had established that Williams, a single man, had a record of engaging in autoerotic practices, and that the greatest likelihood was that he had died as result of an experiment going wrong.

According to the Sunday Times' source, police recently invited an escapologist to show them whether it was possible to lock oneself in a holdall and get out again. The escapologist duly climbed into the bag, padlocked it from the inside and then unzipped it using a sharp-tipped pen.

Convinced by this - and without addressing whether a 31-year-old codebreaker would necessarily have the skills honed over the years by a seasoned escapologist - the police were apparently persuaded that Williams must have got into the bag and then suffocated in the August heat before he could release himself.

"The emerging background is something almost certainly autoerotic," a "senior official" told the paper.

The "emerging background", to coin a phrase, for those observing this case unfold, is that the police are at a total loss as to how Williams died.

This is either because forensics are revealing nothing - it is possible he was murdered by an enemy using undetectable poison, for instance - or because someone somewhere has succeeded in throwing the police off the scent.

According to The First Post's security sources, there are good reasons why government agencies might want this investigation to "go away". These include the possibility that what Williams was working on - and what might have led to his murder - is simply too sensitive to be allowed to go public. It is also possible that his employers slipped up in some respect.

One security consultant who spoke anonymously to The First Post said he had been surprised from the start at the considerable delay - at least a week, longer according to some reports - before anyone was alerted to Williams's absence.

This did not tally with our source's experience of working for British intelligence: he said the slightest hiccup in established routine would bring instant inquiries.

Another source was puzzled by the differing messages being leaked - mainly to the Sunday Times - by those claiming to be close to the investigation. "One minute we're looking for a suspicious couple of Mediterranean appearance, the next we're being told he could have been poisoned by polonium-210 like Alexander Litvinenko - now we're expected to believe that he locked himself in a suitcase."

The facts are that Gareth Williams was a GCHQ codebreaker on secondment to MI6, where his work made him privy to highly classified anti-terrorism material. On August 23, at least a week after he had last been seen, his body was found in a North Face holdall in the bath at his top-floor apartment in Pimlico, a short walk from MI6 headquarters.

Yes, there are instances of auto-asphyxiation fetishists accidentally killing themselves. But invariably these cases involve hanging, not climbing into airtight suitcases.

As Crispin Black wrote for The First Post a week ago, the discovery of Gareth Williams's corpse bore all the hallmarks of a murder by someone who had killed before.

The perpetrator had prepared the victim for transport, put the bag in the bath where any final traces of the crime could most easily be washed away, and was then presumably interrupted before being able to remove the body for disposal.

numeral - September 25, 2010 12:14 AM (GMT)

MI6 spook did NOT die alone: Police certain he was padlocked in bag by someone else

By Stephen Wright
Last updated at 11:32 PM on 24th September 2010

The MI6 spy whose naked body was found in a sports bag in his bath could not have died alone, police believe.

They are now certain he was padlocked into the large holdall by someone else.

Gareth Williams, 31, who was working on secondment for MI6, was alive when he got into - or was forced into the bag and died from suffocation.

There were no injuries on his body to suggest a struggle and police have still not ruled out the possibility that his death was the culmination of a bizarre sex game that went wrong.

But in another mysterious twist, the Mail can reveal that the outer door to Mr Williamss flat in Pimlico, Central London, had apparently been locked from the outside when police arrived on the scene.

Detectives have now intensified their search for a Mediterranean couple known to have been with Mr Williams in the weeks before his death. They are understood to have had a set of keys to the flat.

The disclosures come after a month of frenzied speculation about what happened in the flat last month, including theories that Mr Williams committed suicide alone.

But as the head of MI6 attended Mr Williamss funeral near his family home in North Wales yesterday, the Daily Mail can reveal that this line of inquiry has been discounted.

We can also reveal that there is no evidence to support claims that Mr Williams was a cross-dresser, that bondage equipment was found at his home, that a laptop was missing from the flat, or that he had reported to spy bosses that he was being followed.

Nor, as was claimed in one report, was any suspicious liquid found next to his body in the sports bag.

Police have also dismissed allegations of irregularities in his finances and there is no evidence that Mr Williams had committed any criminal acts.

Inquiries continue into his private life, which officers remain convinced will be the key to solving the case.

Mr Williamss decomposing body was found inside a zipped and padlocked North Face bag in his flat on August 23.

Initially it was thought the cycling enthusiast had been murdered, but the case remains officially classified as suspicious and unexplained.

Detectives believe that whoever was present around the time of his death might have been too scared to come forward to explain what happened.

The revelation that the Mediterranean couple had their own keys emerged after the Daily Mail returned to the scene of Mr Williamss death earlier this week and spoke to neighbours.

Detectives believe the man and woman, in their thirties, were known to Mr Williams because neighbours do not recall their being buzzed into the address.

Despite repeated appeals, the couple who visited the flat owned by the intelligence services in late June or early July have not come forward.

Their reluctance to identify themselves has hampered Operation Finlayson, the code name given to the Metropolitan Police investigation into Mr Williamss death.

The Mail can reveal that the results of two post-mortem examinations, carried out by respected pathologists Ben Swift and Dick Shepherd, are expected to be made public in the next fortnight.

Initial tests are understood to suggest that Mr Williams died of suffocation while in the bag. Toxicology tests showed no traces of alcohol or recreational drugs in his system.

Mr Williamss body was found in an extra-large North Face bag, which features 140 litres of storage capacity, durable material, double stitching, twin haul handles and locking zips.

Claims that a WPC or escapologist of similar height and build to Mr Williams had locked the padlock while inside the same type of bag, during a re-enactment of the possible events leading to his death, have been dismissed.

A former senior Met detective said: Cases like this are not like an episode of CSI. They are not solved neatly in 45 minutes.

The head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, made the journey from London to the small Bethel Methodist Chapel in Anglesey for yesterdays funeral to support Mr Williamss family and represent colleagues who could not attend.

Mr Williams was on secondment at the Secret Intelligence Service from GCHQ in Cheltenham.

The mourners were led by his parents Ian and Ellen, his sister Ceri and her husband Chris Subbe.

A tribute was paid by Islwyn Williams, headteacher of Ysgol Morswyn, the primary school attended by the code-breaker and cipher specialist.

He said: He accomplished more in three short decades than the rest of us do in a lifetime.

Outside church, when asked if the investigation would ever get to the bottom of what happened to Mr Williams, Sir John insisted it was a police matter.

He said: It has been a desperately sad period for the family since Gareth died.

Gareth was a hugely talented person and he was very modest and generous as well. He did really valuable work with us in the cause of national security.

Mr Williams was last seen alive eight days before his body was found. CCTV showed him shopping at Harrods and at Holland Park Tube station.

'Spooks' in mourning: Head of MI6 attends funeral of Gareth Williams

The funeral service of spy Gareth Williams took place yesterday and was attended by the head of MI6, Sir John Sawers.

Sir John made the journey from London to the small Bethel Methodist Chapel in Anglesey on Friday to support Mr Williams's family and represent the maths genius's colleagues who could not attend.

Sir John, the public face of the agency, took his place in the 115-year-old church through the front door - unlike a number of other spooks ushered into the building through a back door to protect their identities.

user posted image
Colleagues of Mr Williams attending his funeral cannot be identified as they work for the secret services so their faces are deliberately blurred

Tearful relatives followed Mr Williams's pine-coloured coffin into church with his parents Ian and Ellen and sister Ceri, whose husband Chris Subbe also paid tribute to Mr Williams during the service.

Mr Williams's parents issued a short statement saying: 'Ellen, Ian, Ceri, Chris and all the family wish to thank everyone for all the sympathy and kindness shown to them in their bereavement.'

In church, tributes were led by Islwyn Williams, the headteacher of the code breaker and cipher specialist's primary school, Ysgol Morswyn.

Mr Williams said of all the children he taught, the spy made the strongest lasting impression and was academically brilliant.

The teacher applauded his pupil for transferring to secondary school at age 10 and passing his maths GCSE at age 13.

'He accomplished more in three short decades than the rest of us do in a lifetime,' he said.

numeral - September 25, 2010 10:08 PM (GMT)
FBI joins investigation into MI6 spy's death

The FBI has joined the hunt for the mystery 'Mediterranean' couple linked to the death of the MI6 spy found dead in his London safe house.

By Gordon Thomas and Patrick Sawer
Published: 4:19PM BST 25 Sep 2010

The bureau has employed face recognition technology at US airports in a bid to establish whether Gareth Williams travelled in and out of the US any stage with a couple answering the description of two people Scotland Yard have appealed to come forward in connection with his death.

The couple, of 'Mediterranean' appearance, were thought to have visited Mr Williams's flat in Pimlico sometime in June or July. Scotland Yard believes the pair, in their thirties, were known to Mr Williams since neighbours do not recall buzzing them into the address.

So far no trace of the couple has been found and detectives believe they could be significant to the inquiry.

Mr Williams, a computing and maths prodigy whose funeral on Friday was attended by Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, had made regular trips to the United States, where he worked on secondment to the US National Security Agency (NSA) in Fort Meade, Maryland, helping to create defences against cyberattack on banking and infrastructure systems.

His last trip back to London from Washington was on Tuesday, August 10, following a holiday in the US. On August 15 CCTV showed him shopping at Harrods, eight days before his body was found at his flat in Pimlico.

The Sunday Telegraph understands that FBI agents have questioned baggage handlers at Washington's Dulles International Airport. None of them recall loading a large North Face holdall of the type in which Mr Williams's decomposing body was later discovered in the bath of his flat.

CCTV camera tapes at the airport have been subjected to FBI "Face Recognition" analysis to establish if Mr Williams arrived alone for his departure flight or whether he was at any stage accompanied by the Mediterranean looking man and woman being sought by the Metropolitan Police.

Agents have also searched an apartment in the US used by Mr Williams close to the offices of the NSA, in a bid to establish if his death presents a threat to their own national security.

The 31-year-old, who had been on secondment to MI6 from the GCHQ listening centre in Cheltenham for a year, is understood to have lived in the flat while working at the NSA.

Agents have also interviewed a number of Mr Williams's colleagues and associates in the US in their attempt to discover if security has been disrupted by his death. The FBI has also checked with Internal Security at the NSA to see if the description of the couple fitted any of the small circle of friends which Williams had developed while working there.

Given his known enthusiasm for cycling the FBI has made checks along the trails through the popular Appalachian Mountains close to Washington, to see if Mr Williams had rented a bicycle in the area or travelled there during his visits.

Intelligence sources say nothing compromising has been found during either the search or the interviews, however the revelations have focused attention on Mr Williams's work in the US and his links to American security agencies.

Mr Williams is understood to have been a key member of a joint team assembled by MI6, GCHQ and the NSA at Fort Meade, where he was helping create defences for both Britain and the US against cyber attack by hostile countries.

He was given his own work station, equipped with a supercomputer with a secure link to GCHQ and MI6.

According to an intelligence source "his clearance was so high that he had access to over 30 categories of information which NSA had gathered". From Fort Meade he would also visit the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US Department of Defence.

Harry Ferguson, a former MI6 officer, said Mr Williams would have been a high-value asset if he had been recruited by a foreign agency.

It is understood that his remit at the NSA was to develop new defences that he would introduce to his post at GCHQ's Office of Cyber Security (OCS) on his return.

The FBI declined to confirm or deny whether its agents had searched Mr Williams's apartment. A spokesman at its Baltimore office, which covers the State of Maryland, said: "We don't discuss ongoing investigations."

Mr Williams's body was found in a state of advanced decomposition in the large North Face holdall, which had been padlocked from the outside and left in the bath of his flat at 23 Alderney Street, on August 23. Detectives have played down speculation that Mr Williams could have closed the padlock around the two zip handles from inside the bag. Officers are understood to believe someone else was involved in the death.

Two separate autopsies have failed to establish the cause of death and tests for other rare toxins which may evade initial examination continued last week on Mr Williams's body. A Home Office pathologist has already established that he was not stabbed, shot or strangled.

The continuing mystery over Mr Williams's death along with the speculation, often lurid, surrounding it has made it difficult for his parents Ian and Ellen to come to terms with the loss of their son. Mr and Mrs Williams, along with his sister Ceri, led mourners at his funeral at the Bethel Methodist Chapel in Anglesey before retreating their home in the village of Valley, overlooking the Irish Sea.

Mr Williams's uncle, William Hughes, a farmer and Plaid Cymru county councillor, said: "It's very tough for them at the moment. They are struggling to come to terms with what has happened. The fact no one yet seems to know how or why Gareth died makes it very difficult. He was a wonderful boy and Ian and Ellen were very proud of him."

numeral - October 1, 2010 07:55 PM (GMT)

It's All News! Jester Scoops Wingnut!! OR Falling Down The Rabbit Hole Becomes A Distant Memory

Friday, October 01, 2010

As I mentioned the other day, I have been tracking news coverage of the mystery of Gareth Williams, the British intelligence worker whose body was found in a bathtub late last month, padlocked in a duffel bag in an MI6 "safe house".

Among the coverage I have been tracking, I have noticed a British site called "The Spoof" which has been running satirical items on the Williams case. These items are always short and nonsensical and would appeal to a person with a particular absurdist sense of humour -- not me, but perhaps somebody else. Nevertheless, since I have Google News Alerts set and I do periodic Google News searches for the topics that interest me, and since, for some unfathomable reason, Google News considers The Spoof a "news source", whenever The Spoof posts another bit of nonsense about Gareth Williams, I find out about it immediately. Such is the power of Google News.

On Wenesday, September 29, The Spoof posted an item saying

    A new theory about the death of MI6 maths genius Gareth Williams claims he had worked on the Stuxnet cybermunition program.

The piece is short and it's obviously nonsense. It's not as obviously complete nonsense as the one that claimed the Queen's security men were worried she was going to lock herself into a travel bag as a form of "copycat suicide", but still...

Today, just two days later, [in a total coincidence, right?] the right-wing lunatic site World Net Daily, which for some other unfathomable reason Google News also considers a "news source", has this big hot scoop from security genius Joseph Farah:

    Spy's death linked to Iran computer-virus attack?

    Investigators looking into the still-shrouded details of the death of Government Communications Headquarter spy Gareth Williams have learned that in the last months of his life before being found dead in an MI6 safe house he was a member of a team tracking the first-ever computer virus designed to sabotage oil refineries and other industrial installations, according to a report from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

Of course you have to subscribe to Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin if you want all the details. Personally I am not substantially interested.

[UPDATE! Two hours later]

[In another total coincidence, right?] Joseph Farah's piece, "Spy's death linked to Iran computer-virus attack?" is no longer available at its original link, and it is no longer mentioned on the front page of World Net Daily either.

Now the link I posted above gives you a "server error" instead. I should say so! Some "server"! Some "error"!!


I can remember a time when if you said the news was nonsensical fiction, nobody would believe you.

Nowadays it's a full day's work just to separate the fiction from the so-called news of the day.

And apparently I am overloaded on that, because my "fictionalized account" of the Gareth Williams story continues, in the chapter-by-chapter style of the old magazine serials. At least two or three readers are waiting impatiently for the ninth chapter of the series, and I invite you to join them by insert shameless plug here.

numeral - October 10, 2010 03:45 AM (GMT)


Sunday October 10,2010
By Gordon Thomas and James Fielding

MI6 SPY Gareth Williams helped thwart a Mumbai-style gun rampage in Britain just weeks before his mystery death, the Sunday Express can reveal today.

The 31-year-old, whose body was found in a sports bag in his flat two months ago, uncovered the plot in a secret eavesdropping mission in Afghanistan.

He played a pivotal role in intercepting phone calls from British jihadists at a training camp before matching their voice prints to those on a data bank.

Details of the Al Qaeda threats emerged last weekend and involved coordinated gun massacres on the streets of London, Paris and Berlin. Transport hubs and landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower and the Brandenburg Gate were all listed as potential targets.

Mr Williams made several trips to Afghanistan as one of a 10-strong team of specialists from GCHQ, the Governments listening post and the NSA, the US equivalent.

He was cherry-picked for the job because of his specialist skills using voice analysis software. The codebreaker, on a years secondment to MI6 in London from GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucs, could identify accents picked up in phone conversations with terror suspects from the Midlands, Manchester and Rochdale, Lancashire.

He pinpointed at least one voice print to Pakistani-born Briton Abdul Jabbar, who was known to UK security services. Jabbar was killed in a US drone strike earlier this month after GCHQ alerted the US to his whereabouts.

Information gleaned by Mr Williams also led to the arrest of the suspected ringleader, Admed Sidiqi, captured in Kabul in July.

Sidiqi, a German national from Hamburg, is being held at a US airbase where he has provided details about the attacks.

Though Mr Williams helped save the lives of thousands in Europe, terror alerts are high.

A source said: The professionalism and skill of operatives like Gareth helped to thwart a disaster but we dont have a total insight into what is unfolding.

We are still aware of sleeper cells ready to spring into action at a moments notice.

Up to 20 British-born militants are in the lawless border tribal lands between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

numeral - November 21, 2010 10:16 PM (GMT)

Who was Gareth Williams?

When the bagged body of an MI6 agent was found in a bathtub, speculation went into overdrive. Was it suicide? Murder? A professional hit, or a sexual game gone wrong?

    * Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy
    * The Guardian, Saturday 20 November 2010

Gareth Williams photo retouched Three months after his body was found in a holdall in the bath of his Pimlico flat, police still seem no closer to finding out what happened to Gareth Williams. Photograph: PA/Digital retouching by Jonas Foreman/Guardian Imaging Department

On Tuesday 24 August, a storm was brewing off the North Wales coast. As gusts reached 50mph in the village of Valley, on Anglesey, two sodden police officers stood at a front door on a close of modern bungalows above the beach. They knocked and knocked. Eventually someone ran out into the rain to tell them that Ellen and Ian Williams were away on holiday in the US. While detectives tried to locate the Williams abroad, someone found Ellen's father, John Hughes, who lived around the corner and broke the news: his 31-year-old grandson Gareth, a boy who had always been fit and healthy, was dead. Grandpa John was so distraught that he tripped, cut his head and had to be taken to hospital.

Then Gareth's uncle, William Hughes, who lived on a farm in nearby Trefor village, got the call. "Gareth couldn't be dead? Surely not?" Uncle William sat numbly with Gareth's 86-year-old great aunt before their open fire, staring at the porcelain figures on the mantelpiece. Gareth had been an exceptional boy, selected to work as some kind of analyst for GCHQ, the government's secret listening station in Cheltenham, but the family never talked about it. And neither did Gareth. He'd been home just three weeks earlier, recalled Hughes, cycling the lanes on his race bike before the whole family had got together. But his life was "now being lived a long way from the family in Anglesey," Hughes said, "so some things we couldn't know."

On 25 August, Ian and Ellen Williams touched down at Manchester airport and were met by police, who officially broke the news that two days earlier in London, a man believed to be their son had been found dead. The body had been found padlocked inside a sports bag in the flat where Gareth was staying. It could have been there for up to a fortnight. As they were escorted to the capital, to join their daughter Ceri, there were news reports everywhere: "British spy murdered." Apparently he had been "stabbed to death". According to stories, Gareth was a brain-box, a techie who "worked with codes", as far as they knew. Was he also a spy, they wondered?

For Ellen and Ian, Gareth's death was a horror story that "destroyed" them. For the rest of the world, it was a rare glimpse into the clandestine world of espionage. His death was compared to that of Georgi Markov, the Bulgarian dissident killed by a poison-tipped umbrella in London 32 years before, and the 2006 murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko. Cold war details increased public fervour. The building in which the body was found was owned by a private company, registered offshore, called New Rodina. Rodina was Russian for "motherland". Did real spies read John Le Carr too?

In the midst of lurid speculation, Ian and Ellen Williams reached London. In normal circumstances, they would be required to make a physical identification. However, given the degree of decomposition, police would rely on family photos. Was Gareth murdered, his distraught family asked. Despite launching a major investigation Operation Finlayson Scotland Yard were finding it a hard question to answer. One major problem facing investigators was the length of time that the body had lain undiscovered. Another was that they were being blocked by the security services from probing too deeply into Williams's life. Detectives had no idea what Gareth Williams really did or who he was, and had been unable as yet to find anyone close to him. They needed the family's help.

Gareth's sister Ceri, a physiotherapist, and her husband Dr Chris Subbe, a senior registrar at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, told police they had seen Gareth in June, when he had taken them for tea at the Ritz in London to celebrate their second wedding anniversary. He'd been in the capital for more than six months, but couldn't say what he was doing.

The three spent that afternoon "laughing and joking", and afterwards continued to talk frequently by phone. Ceri last spoke to her brother on 11 August, after he returned from a short trip to the US. He now intended to "tidy things up", before returning to GCHQ in Cheltenham on 3 September.

Ceri's dates matched what police learned from Gareth's former landlady, Jenny Elliot, who had rented him a room in her house near Cheltenham for the 10 years he had worked for GCHQ, before transferring to London last year. Gareth had called her in August, asking if he could return. "Like we were going to say no," Elliot says. "He was about the best lodger you could ever have. I mean, you never heard a word from him. He had no TV, record player, or anything."

Ceri had called her brother again about a week later. No answer. She tried repeatedly, becoming worried. Gareth was like a Swiss watch. Now she contacted the police; the security services were already concerned, as Gareth had failed to show for work. On 23 August, at 6.30pm, a uniformed officer was sent to Williams's top-floor flat in a Georgian townhouse in Alderney Street, Pimlico. It was only a few hundred yards from the MI6 headquarters at Vauxhall, and was used by the Secret Intelligence Service as a safe house. A lettings agent who held a spare key showed the policeman in. He was asked to wait downstairs as the officer went up and entered the curtained rooms. The place was "spotless": two iPhones, some sim cards and an Apple notebook sat on a table. Then he entered the bathroom, and found a holdall in the bathtub. Red liquid seeped from it. Inside was a body, in such a contorted position that he thought its "legs and arms had been cut off". Radioing for assistance, the policeman noted that there were no signs a struggle. This was not a robbery or home invasion. It was a "neat job", a euphemism for a professional kill.

Given his clearances and access to classified material, Williams's death triggered alarm across Whitehall. MI5 agents swept through the Alderney Street flat, followed by detectives from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, assisted by SO15, Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command. Alderney Street was cordoned off as Home Office scientists began processing the scene. Once the spooks had departed, it was down to the murder squad to study the evidence. So far, they had a body in an "advanced state of decay". There was no weapon and no sign of forced entry or a struggle.

Concentrating on the holdall and its contents, detectives established that Williams had not been stabbed, shot or hacked to pieces. On August 25, Home Office pathologist Dr Ben Swift carried out a post-mortem that, together with the first batch of toxicological tests, came back "inconclusive". "If we don't know what to look for, and are not guided by what we see or smell on the body, we cannot find it," says a forensic scientist who worked on the Litvinenko case. "We do 50 obvious poisons. Fifty rare. We can do the isotopes. Litvinenko alerted us to that. But in the absence of a specific direction, the possibilities are as limitless as a killer's imagination and we cannot test for that."

Detectives set out their theories. One reading of the crime scene pointed to a forensically aware hit man. Slender 5ft 7in Gareth had been stuffed inside the near-airtight red North Face sports bag and placed in the bath, containing any spillage and minimising odours, too. The heating was on, increasing the rate of decomposition, which significantly lessened the chances of retrieving evidence from the corpse.

Or perhaps the body in the bag was evidence of a stage-managed "personal event", masterminded by a controlling individual. Was this a suicide (with Williams acting on his own)? Or a sadistic or masochistic sexual act gone wrong (with Williams engaging in some kind of auto-erotic asphyxiation?). "If you can imagine it, then we are investigating it," a  detective said in late August. But what would shape police inquiries was the dawning realisation that Gareth Williams had not been alone.

Returning to the holdall, studying the zips and lock, police became certain that he could not have locked himself inside. And there was further proof that someone else must have been in the flat with him: his front door had been locked from the outside.

Criminal psychologists studied the case. One, who spoke anonymously, thought his death might have been a masochistic ritual that had gone wrong: "For a retentive individual with an ever-green mind like Gareth Williams, always on duty and in control, the bag could have been a furtive release."

The Williams family was adamant that the Gareth they knew would not have behaved this way. And, for now, the family was all the police had, since they had found no close friends or lovers. Another pressing problem with their theories was that detectives had failed to turn up any other suspects or accomplices.

Police, pathologists and forensic investigators agreed on one thing only. They would have to focus on the 12 days between the last call Gareth made to Ceri and the discovery of his body on 23 August. Pulling mobile phone records and credit card transactions, scouring hours of CCTV footage, the Operation Finlayson team dug deep, as ever more lurid stories circulated.

"Murdered MI6 worker Gareth Williams was a secret transvestite who may have been killed by a gay lover, detectives said yesterday Cops found women's clothing that would fit him at his Pimlico flat in central London." The Sun ran with this version of events, while other newspapers, quoting similar unnamed sources, reported that cocaine had been found, a cache of gay pornography, a small armoury of S&M paraphernalia. Williams was also said to have frequently paid for male escorts.

Senior detectives angrily rebutted the stories. Uncle William in Anglesey thought they read like a concerted smear, and wondered why anyone would want to destroy Gareth's reputation after he was dead.

Like most well-constructed character assassinations, however, this one was founded on a grain of fact that made it that much harder to quash. Detectives had been quietly investigating whether Gareth Williams was gay. They had canvassed witnesses in the Vauxhall Cross village of gay clubs and bars, a short walk from Alderney Street. They had also studied Williams's computers and reading matter, his journals, magazines and computer cache. Despite outright denials from his family, detectives were privately certain that Gareth was gay, although they had been unable to find trace of any sexual encounters. They had also come to believe that his sexual orientation was not central to the inquiry (although his sexual preferences might be). There was no evidence of Williams paying for escorts, buying S&M equipment, using porn or drugs of any kind. "This man didn't really even drink," one frustrated detective said.

The police felt they were being hurried along by other parties, keen for the scandal to go away. "Someone, somewhere, who has access to case material, is saying, 'He's queer and asked for it', rather than waiting for the outcome of the case," one veteran detective said.

In North Wales, the family lit their fires, closed their curtains and privately pondered if anyone had ever understood the real Gareth.

At Ysgol Gynradd Morswyn, Gareth's primary school, a short hop between Valley and Holyhead, head teacher Islwyn Williams remembers him as an exceptional pupil. At five, Gareth made a beeline for the school computer and never left it. While most of his classmates were still playing with Lego, Gareth had a GCSE in maths. At the age of 10, he went to secondary school, gaining A grades in A-level maths and computer science at 13. The school contacted Bangor University, which accepted him as a part-time student on a maths degree course. "He was the best logician with the fastest brain I have ever met," said Geraint Williams, his maths teacher.

Fellow pupils remember Gareth as a loner. Dylan Parry, 34, thought him "isolated" by his intellect. His abilities shut him off from everyone else. He was naive. Parry believed someone "could easily take advantage of him". He recalled Gareth travelling by train each week to university, while still living at home with Ian and Ellen. Too clever for school. Too young for university.

The family downplay his isolation. They point to their closeness and his sporting prowess. By the time he was 17, Gareth had followed his father into competitive cycling. Keith Thompson, of Holyhead Cycling Club, with whom Ian and Gareth rode, says: "He was a really lovely young man, but wasn't a great conversationalist. Gareth wasn't the sort to go to the pub after a race."

In 1997, aged 18, Gareth left home to begin a PhD at Manchester University, acquiring an advanced level of learning that sat uneasily with his elementary life skills, although his academic mentor, professor Terry Hewitt, believed he could take it: "He was very private and worked well on his own. He was certainly not a 'geek' even if he was reserved." His dissertation focused on computer games. They had always been a private passion, with him achieving an online reputation as unbeatable. Three years on, aged 21, Gareth was approached by the British security services, who the university believes had spotted his precocious online gaming abilities. Hewitt recalled: "In 2000, Gareth came into my office and said, 'I'm going to GCHQ'. He had to tell me, as I was his referee for his vetting." Gareth left Manchester and Anglesey behind to sign the Official Secrets Act.

Williams began an advanced maths course at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, but withdrew the following year, torn between academia and the demands of his new employer. At GCHQ, he was seen as stable, reliable and potentially brilliant, according to a contractor who worked there at the time. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he recalled that GCHQ was a world in which Gareth fitted, working alone, or in small teams, waist-deep in mathematical problems, challenged by cutting-edge technology and real-time problems. Possibly for the first time, he was part of a community of similarly focused individuals who were taken on for their discretion as well as for their brains, intercepting, monitoring and analysing email and telephone calls from around the world. He did feel the pressure, constantly, according to the contractor, who noted that at GCHQ many technicians were as clever or cleverer than Williams.

Work became his life. There was little time for much outside it, something evidenced by how he chose to live, renting a modest room in the Prestbury area of the town. Inside was a single, child-sized bed, a small chest of drawers, three upright wooden chairs and a gas heater all furnished by Jenny Elliot. Over the decade he spent there, Williams introduced no luxuries, accumulated no clutter. He brought no one back. He rarely even went out after work, excepting an occasional "drink with colleagues". He worked late into the night and rose early. There was something oppressively austere about him, those colleagues thought, something they used to call his "GDR sensibility". So serious and quiet was he that when he did become animated, he "alarmed people with his unusual laugh".

Due to the nature of his work, it is hard for those who met Gareth to describe what he did, and those who talked to us did so having already left GCHQ. But all agreed that, although very capable, Williams was "a middle-ranking" technician "asserting himself in a number of sensitive areas, any one of which could theoretically have brought him into contact with enemies of our state". While GCHQ gathers intelligence from Europe, Africa and Russia, its partners in the US National Security Agency (NSA) also had access to British and European signals traffic at Menwith Hill, a top-secret RAF base near Harrogate, in Yorkshire.

When Williams arrived at Menwith, shortly after the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, GCHQ and the NSA were increasingly focused on the threat of Islamist violence at home and abroad. "Between the UK and the US, we were deluged by the chatter from radicals here and over the Atlantic as they talked on landlines, satellite or mobile phones with contacts in hot countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as with Saudi, and hubs like Dubai," one former GCHQ security consultant said. "A group around Williams worked on software to assemble, search and analyse the data, drawing out patterns and meanings."

Williams's elevation within GCHQ came with the "Liquid Bomb" plot, where a group of British radicals of Asian origin were found to be planning to detonate home-made explosives on board seven flights to major north American cities. Intercepting emails and phone calls between these plotters and their contacts abroad, Williams flew between the UK and the US, working at Fort Meade (the NSA HQ, in Baltimore).

Williams was brought into close proximity to US intelligence, Islamic radicals and Middle Eastern agents. He would rub shoulders with the Russians, too, according to a foreign intelligence analyst based in the UK, who described how technology and software honed by GCHQ was deployed in tracking a Moscow-backed sleeper cell to which Britain had been alerted as early as 2003. The case blew up in June 2010 when 10 people were arrested in the US and accused of being part of an espionage ring. One of them, a glamorous 28-year-old called Anna Chapman, had lived for five years in the UK. According to the former GCHQ contractor, "Williams had been obsessed by the case, its methodology and characters."

He was now on secondment to MI6, with its focus on foreign targets and intelligence-gathering, becoming more of a spy than a desk-bound technician, although Williams would shortly be called back to GCHQ to work on a new and ambitious project.

He had been liaising again with counterparts at the NSA, who were part of an effort to create an American cyber defence policy, to prevent the siphoning off of secret or commercially sensitive data or a military style assault on defence or civil systems. Its importance was alluded to last month in a speech by home secretary Theresa May, in which she identified cyber crime as among the pre-eminent future threats facing the UK. A cyber crimes specialist who knew Williams revealed that at the time of his death he was researching British vulnerability to Russian, Turkish and Chinese gangs: "He was already on top of it."

Rogue individuals and nation states, Islamist terror groups and radical loners, extortionists and organised criminals these were just some of those Williams had observed, investigated, disrupted and provoked. Any one of them was capable of reciprocating, lethally.

Back at the Yard, Operation Finlayson detectives were looking at a vast range of potential threats, but still had few clues, no accomplices or even a plausible denouement for a man whose personal and professional inclinations were to camouflage everything he did.

By September, an exhaustive trawl had come up with some CCTV footage. In the frames released to the public, Gareth Williams saunters by Holland Park tube station in west London at 3pm on 14 August, three days after he had last spoken to his sister.

Staff at the nearby Valerie's Patisserie said that in the week before, a man fitting Gareth's description had spent several hours in the cafe on consecutive days, sitting at the rear with a laptop, receiving occasional visitors. One security source said that he believed Williams was "working" in west London monitoring one of the many foreign embassies in the area just as he had been "working" while on his recent "holiday" to the US.

Police released footage of Williams on 15 August, too. At 2pm, he was filmed at a cash machine, visiting Harrods, walking at 2.30pm via Hans Crescent in Knightsbridge towards Sloane Street. Soon after he vanished.

By the end of September, after a second barrage of toxicology tests proved inconclusive, Gareth Williams's body was released and laid to rest in North Wales. On 26 September, the extended Williams clan gathered outside the Bethel chapel in Holyhead to bid farewell. Given the florid rumours that had circulated around his death, they were surprised by the appearance there of Sir John Sawers, head of MI6. Williams had been with his service for less than a year, yet Sawyers told reporters, "I wanted to be here today as the only public face of the Secret Intelligence Service. My deepest sympathies go to the family. Gareth was a hugely talented person, and he was very modest and generous as well. He did really valuable work with us in the cause of national security."

What a difference 30 days make. After an investigation that had failed to turn up the smallest vice, Williams was no longer lampooned but celebrated as a very British spy: modest, capable and known well by no one.

As they buried Gareth, Dr Chris Subbe, speaking for his wife Ceri and the family, recalled how they had laughed and chatted with him at the Ritz, celebrating their marriage and his brilliant career. "The world was ours for the taking," he said. "Yet here I am three months later to the day, trying to describe your rich life with my poor words."

numeral - December 26, 2010 02:56 AM (GMT)

The secret double identity of murdered spy: Friend insists Gareth Williams was not gay - and was being trained by MI6 for undercover role

By Daniel Boffey
Last updated at 11:18 PM on 25th December 2010

The spy found dead in a sports bag had been given a new identity by his MI6 bosses in the months leading up to his mysterious death.

Gareth Williams, a GCHQ codebreaker on secondment to MI6, had two passports and told his best friend that he was preparing for an undercover operation.

Details of the 31-year-olds role within the secret services are disclosed today in an interview with his confidante and childhood sweetheart, Sian Lloyd-Jones.
Double life: MI6 bosses had given Gareth Williams training for a new identity as part of an undercover operation a close friend revealed in an interview with the Mail on Sunday

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, she said: I find it difficult to see anything in his personal life which could lie behind this.

She reveals:

    * He was training to take on a new identity eight months before he was found dead.
    * He often purchased designer womens clothes, but she insists they were gifts for her and his sister.
    * The maths genius was found dead two days before he was due to visit Paris with his sister.

The revelations shed new light on Mr Williamss work which, until now, had been regarded as highly technical and carrying little risk.

His body was found inside a zipped and padlocked North Face holdall in the bathroom of his
MI6 flat on August 23. A post-mortem was inconclusive.

Last week police released e-fits of a couple they wish to question and provided intimate details about Mr Williamss life, including his interest in bondage websites and his extraordinary collection of womens designer clothes and shoes, worth about 15,000.

But Ms Lloyd-Jones, 33, claims Mr Williams would have confided in her and his sister, Ceri, if he had any homosexual urges. Ms Lloyd-Jones, a fashion stylist, said: Im not in denial and nor is his mum, dad or sister. It would have been fine if he was [gay].

I have seen every item of clothing that was there. I truly believe that Ceri and I were going to receive the clothing. He was so generous you wouldnt believe.

She finds it difficult to see anything in his private life which could have led to his killing.

But she reveals his work was more complex than previously believed.

He said he was learning his new identity, she said. In February he said hed be unavailable for nine days because he was on a training exercise. Hed often go away, so I didnt think any more about it.

Ms Lloyd-Jones added that she last heard from Mr Williams on the day he was last seen alive when he was happy and warm and the same as he always was.

But it was Mr Williamss sister who was due to accompany him on a trip to Paris later that week who alerted her that something may be wrong when she couldnt get hold of him on the phone. She said that was when she became worried because hes like clockwork, hes so predictable.

There's no mystery about those women's clothes. He bought them for me and his sister

To Sian Lloyd-Jones, it was just another ordinary evening. A fashion stylist, she was pottering around the sitting room of her Knightsbridge flat organising outfits for the following days photoshoot.

Meanwhile her friend, Gareth Williams, was sitting on the sofa leafing through the contents of a black box file. Inside there were documents and notes and two passports.

He said he was learning his new identity, says Sian now. It was all so relaxed. I was taping up shoes and co-ordinating outfits and he was going through his papers.

He often came round with his work. That night he came over with his box file and started going through it. He had two passports. He probably fell asleep on the sofa that night and stayed overnight with all the documents.

At the time, Sian thought nothing of it. Nor did she think it significant when Gareth said hed be unavailable for nine days the following month as he would be away on a training exercise.

Sian knew her friend was a spy and that his job would often take him away for weeks at a time. She also knew there was a necessary element of secrecy to his life. What she couldnt know was that eight months later, Gareth would be found dead, and in the most horrific circumstances.

It was on August 23 that police were called to Gareths flat in Pimlico, Central London, an MI6-owned safe house. He had been missing for more than a week. They found his decomposed body locked in a large red North Face sports bag.

In the months since, his friends and family have not only had to try to come to terms with their loss, they have had to endure a stream of unsavoury leaks from mysterious sources.

It was rumoured that Gareth, 31, was gay after bondage equipment was allegedly found in his apartment along with phone numbers for gay escorts. This was denied by the police, but by then the damage had already been done. Then there were reported irregularities in his finances, also denied.

And last week there were further lurid allegations after police said they wanted to question
a Mediterranean couple who were seen calling at Gareths flat before he died. But as well as releasing e-fits of the unknown man and woman, they revealed that Gareth had bought 15,000 of designer clothes and shoes, including labels such as Stella McCartney and Christian Louboutin. They were all stored unopened in their bags and boxes alongside a number of womens wigs. 

Police disclosed that Gareth had visited five bondage websites, which were not pornographic but would give readers advice on how to get in and out of confined spaces. They also said they had found tickets for a number of drag shows.

Gareth devoted his life to serving his country. He was already acknowledged as a talented codebreaker and had worked for the Government listening post GCHQ for ten years before being seconded for a year to MI6. Now, it appears he was rather more than that and was involved in the type of tradecraft more commonly found in a John le Carre novel. There is even a plaque to him at GCHQ in Cheltenham in honour of his work.

Yet the constant drip-feed of sordid allegations has not only destroyed his reputation, it suggests that he is somehow to blame for his own demise. For Sian, and for Gareths parents, Ian and Ellen, and sister Ceri, this has caused untold pain at an already heart-wrenching time.

Until now, those close to Gareth have kept their counsel. Yet now Sian, 33, has agreed to speak about the man she has known since she was eight; a man who is very different from the one she keeps hearing about in the media.

A bubbly, garrulous young woman, who also comes from Gareths home town of Holyhead, shes not the sort of girl who would be friends with a strange loner, as Gareth has so often been painted.

She says: The person everyone talks about .  .  . I dont recognise him at all. He was the complete opposite of everything that has been said about him. Its been awful for everyone but particularly his family. Theyre at breaking point, to be honest. Theyre not celebrating Christmas. They werent going to anyway but the latest revelations have just made it even worse for them.

Theyre completely broken by this because its not the true Gareth at all. He was a lovely guy, a true, old-school gentleman. He had an excellent sense of humour and, from the bottom of my heart, he was the most charming, sensitive, gorgeous man. Truly, he was one in a million. He was somebody who really had a sound judgment for life.

He was very effortless as a person. Nothing was a bother to him; whether you asked him to call you a cab or do a big deed, he was always the same. He wasnt a loner and he wasnt lonely. He had close chums in Cheltenham whom he was very friendly with and whom he spoke highly of, but because of the line of work they do they naturally keep in the background. He loved what he did and he thrived on it. He was a workaholic. That kept him very happy and content.
Devoted: Gareth Williams gave his entire life to serving the country and was a talented codebreaker, but it appears there was more to his work than was originally revealed

When Gareth was not at work, I was the person he spent more time with than anyone else. I have thought about this every day since he died. I find it difficult to see anything in his personal life which could lie behind this. But I know this is a murder investigation so we must remain open to every possibility.

His family respect, 100 per cent, that he worked for MI6. I and the family respect the role he was
in. But personally, I dont think well ever get an answer as to what happened.

As for the latest allegations, Sian rejects them absolutely. While most men might not keep thousands of pounds of designer clothes, she says it was merely a sign of his generosity. She told police in the summer that Gareth would often buy her and his sister, Ceri, expensive gifts and she believes the clothes were meant for them.

As if to prove it, she points to her 760 Stella McCartney PVC trousers which were a present from Gareth.

She says: Ive seen every item of clothing that was there in the flat. There was Diana von Furstenberg, Stella McCartney, all in a size 6 or 8 which he wouldnt even fit an arm or a leg into. He was small but not that small. And the shoes they found in his apartment were not in his size, but his sisters. He was so generous you wouldnt believe.

The list is endless. He bought me a high-end Balenciaga top, a Gucci bag, a Mulberry bag, an Armani fur. He did the same for his sister. I truly believe that Ceri and I were going to receive the clothing. We received so many things from him, that wouldnt have been strange.

As for the womens wigs, Sian says there is an entirely innocent explanation. He and an American friend were going to a fancy-dress party in October, she says. One of his hobbies was Japanese superhero cartoons and they were going to go as two of the characters. They were pink and yellow and those are the only wigs that were found.

I didnt know he went to the drag clubs but I think that was quite a new thing. He spoke in depth to his sister about everything. He mentioned hed been to the transvestite comedy club so its not something he was trying to hide.

The constant implication throughout all the rumour and counter-rumour is that Gareth was gay. This is something Sian also denies. She says: They said last week that he had been training in fashion, doing night school at Central St Martins. I didnt know about that but I knew he liked fashion. He saw it as art.

He had lots of magazines at his flat, Italian Vogue and all sorts, but he was open with his family, and if he was gay and had any temptations he would have spoken about them, especially to his sister. Hand on heart, there were no innuendoes about him.

His father was his best friend and he adored his mother and his sister. He was really open with his friends and family about his personal life and I truly believe if he had any interest in homosexuality, he would have spoken to his sister and to me as well.

Im not in denial and nor are Gareths mum, dad or sister. It would have been fine if he was but he had too much interest in women. He wanted a girlfriend and he wanted a wife and family. The truth is he wished he was better with women. He had a mild stutter, which was a big barrier as it would get worse when he was nervous.
Child prodigy: Gareth met Sian at primary school when he was placed two years above his age group due to his superior intellect

I dont know if he ever had a girlfriend. There werent any I was aware of but to be honest, we never mentioned it. I know it was my next big project to get him a girlfriend. He felt he lacked confidence with women. He cherished the time he had with his sister and with me and he wanted that with other girls. I know because Gareth had a bit of a soft spot for me.

Sian and Gareth first met at Ysgol Gynradd Morswyn primary school where her mother, Eleri, was a dinner lady. Her father Alwyn was a BT engineer.

Gareth was two years younger than her, the brilliant child prodigy of Ian, an engineer at Wylfa power station, and Ellen, who worked in education. Sian says: He was moved up two years because he was so clever. He used to read encyclo-pedias at six. Even in primary school, he was doing his GCSEs during lunchtime.

We were childhood sweethearts at school. Then when we went to Bodedern, our secondary school, he moved on leaps and bounds with his intellect. He really was a genius. I would say a date, say May 15, 1974, and he would count back and then say, yes it was a Wednesday. He could work it out. But if he was here today, hed hang out and enjoy a chat and a catch up. He was so approachable.

I was quite naughty at school. I used to sell his homework. He used to have a big list. People used to come, all those who couldnt do their maths, and he would do it for them. We only sold it for school dinner money, 70p a time or something like that, and I used to buy magazines. He got nothing, to be honest. He didnt want anything. Thats how he was, how we were as friends.

After school the two friends went their separate ways.

Mr Williams gained special permission to leave school for Bangor University aged just 15, and at 18 he left home to study for a PhD at Manchester University. Three years later, he was approached by the British security services, who apparently spotted his precocious online gaming abilities.

Sian left school at 16 to become a window-dresser for Next in Bangor before going on to become a celebrity fashion stylist. She moved to Manchester and worked on Hollyoaks and Coronation Street.

It was in Manchester, four years ago, that she bumped into Gareth again. She says: It was surreal at first. I was coming down the escalators at Selfridges and I spotted him coming up. We took off again. We went out for a drink and chatted. To be honest with you, I think we were both slightly in awe of each other. We were both excited by what the other was doing and amused too. He told me he was working for GCHQ.

We talked for a couple of hours and made a pact we would always stay in touch, and we did. We called each other every week from then on. And he would come up roughly once a month. He was hugely into music, from classical to rap. Music was his life. Hed always tie up his visits with a gig at the MEN Arena or the Apollo. I never went with him, Id meet him afterwards or the next day. Hed often help me with the shopping for my shoots.
Spotted: Mr Williams left school for university aged just 15 and was approached by the security services due to his precocious online gaming abilities

Two years ago Sian moved to London, where she lives with her partner of three years Saul Herd, 37, who runs a corporate flooring company. Gareth also moved to the capital after he was seconded to MI6.

She says: Our friendship deepened. We didnt have many friends around us hed moved from Cheltenham, Id moved from Manchester and so we stuck closely together. Wed grown up together and enjoyed each others company.

We used to go to Nobu Berkeley Square in Mayfair. He always treated me. We just used to hang out.

Sometimes wed go to the Fifth Floor bar at Harvey Nichols and drink cocktails. It would be apple sours for me. He would have a non-alcoholic cocktail. He used to join in with whatever was there, white wine or champagne if there was a group, but he wasnt a drinker. If it was just me and him he wouldnt have anything at all.

He used to just turn up at any time. He was always welcome. I might have spoken to him and told him I was finishing late and he would pop round. Sometimes he would stay over on the sofa. He would always bring me a bottle of ros and often some cigarettes. He was a true old-school gentleman.

He loved candles. He used to love burning my expensive candles and then wed have a catch-up and a gossip. There was no one like him, I had such an in-depth relationship with him. He was so knowledgeable about everything from restaurants to cars to maths to politics.

Sian last saw Gareth in April. She had moved back to Wales for a while to take a break from the pressures of London life, while he was preparing to go on a driving holiday to the West Coast of America during July and August.

She says: Before he went to America, we went down to Trearddur Bay and watched the sunset. Wed spent the whole afternoon together. I was at home with my parents and he stopped by. He was excited about his trip. He seemed very together. There was nothing troubling him. It was just a lovely, completely normal afternoon.

She had no way of knowing she would never see Gareth again. The couple stayed in touch, as ever, on the phone and he called her on August 14, the day of the last known sighting of him at Holland Park Tube station. She says: He just said, Hi darling, hows it hanging?

He said he was leaving London and moving back to Cheltenham, and wondering when we would meet up next. He was happy and warm and the same as he always was. He left the message on the Saturday but I didnt get it until the Wednesday as I was in Spain for work and couldnt pick up messages abroad.

He was fine, which is why Im sure he didnt try to take his own life. And anyway, hed never do that. He loved his family too much to commit suicide. Then on August 23, the day he was found, Ceri called me at 11am and asked if Id heard from him. I said, Yes, a week ago. He and Ceri were due to go to Paris on the Wednesday of that week. Shed tried to get in touch over the weekend and there was no answer on the home phone or the mobile.

It was odd she hadnt heard from him, particularly as they were going away. She said, What do you think? I told her I was sure it was nothing to worry about. But the minute I put the phone down, I knew something was wrong. He was like clockwork, so predictable. It was completely out of character for him.

I spoke to Ceri again later and we both admitted we were worried. We thought he must have had an accident or something. She called his work and they said he hadnt shown up for a meeting on Wednesday.

That day all their lives changed when Gareth was found dead. A month later, on September 24, they buried Gareth at Bethel Methodist Chapel in Anglesey. The head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, attended.

Sian says: The family were really happy he came. There were around 20 people from his work there. They came in through the back door of the chapel and had a separate area they were guided into. To be honest, I dont think anyone really noticed as there were so many people there.

But they can never fully lay Gareth to rest until they have some idea as to how, and why, he died. Sian says: Im not sure we ever will know but the family need some answers. If anyone has any information about what happened to Gareth, I hope they will come forward. Its not fair for his family to suffer like this. 

numeral - January 23, 2011 02:02 AM (GMT)
By Abdul Taher
Last updated at 1:42 AM on 23rd January 2011

A former tutor of the MI6 spy found dead in a padlocked sports bag has claimed that lurid allegations about his private life were a decoy.

Cheryl Eastap said suggestions from anonymous police and security sources that Gareth Williams was gay and a cross-dresser denied by his family and friends were hurtful.

And she hinted that the leaks may have been made to make it appear that his death was an accident rather than something more sinister.

Ms Eastap taught the 31-year-old GCHQ code-breaker at Central St Martins College in London, where he completed a part-time course in clothing design weeks before his body was found at his flat.

The police should not have leaked all these things about him. It was hurtful to his family and it was a decoy. I dont think he was gay or

a cross-dresser. Maybe he collected dresses fashion students do, she said, referring to the fact that 15,000 of designer costumes were found in Williamss Central London flat.

Ms Eastap said Williams did not need the outfits for her course. Students have to buy their own materials, but the dresses they found in his flat had nothing to do with my course. He did not need them.

Although Williamss body was found five months ago, no one has been arrested over his death or questioned as a suspect, despite a high-profile investigation by Scotland Yard, with the assistance of MI5 and MI6.

In the days after Williamss body was discovered, lurid reports appeared quoting unnamed sources which alleged he was a secret homosexual who visited the capitals gay bars.

The sources said bondage equipment was found in his Pimlico flat  as well as telephone numbers for gay escorts. The claims were later officially denied by the Metropolitan Police.

But last month police revealed that they had found womens clothing and wigs at his flat. They added that Williams visited bondage websites and had a ticket for a drag comedy night.

Last month The Mail on Sunday interviewed Williamss childhood sweetheart Sian Lloyd-Jones, 33, who said Williams usually bought expensive dresses for her and his younger sister, Ceri.

Miss Lloyd-Jones said the dresses could not have been for Williams as they were too small for him, and that he would have told her or his sister if he was gay.

Ms Eastap also dismissed newspaper reports last week that Williams might have locked himself in the North Face holdall as some kind of homework for her course, which was exploring confined spaces.

A Scotland Yard spokesman declined to comment on whether the leaks came from police, MI5 or MI6. He added: The investigation is ongoing.

amirrortotheenemy - March 19, 2011 08:21 PM (GMT)
From The Times
February 14, 2008
Badri Patarkatsishvili: exiled oligarch who lived in the shadow of death
Dominic Kennedy and Adam Fresco

He feared death would come through a sabotaged flight or a bloodbath of his bodyguards but it was in a bedroom at his Home Counties manor house that Badri Patarkatsishvili met his end.

Whether the Georgian oligarch and opposition leader died naturally of a heart attack or from foul play is now for British detectives to determine.

They tested for radioactivity yesterday but found none.

Badri, as he was known, spent his final day in the company of Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney-General; Lord Bell, Margaret Thatchers PR man; and a handful of Russian exiles. There was no security man in Lord Goldsmiths offices and the Georgian seemed far from paranoid.

The last of his contacts to see him alive was Boris Berezovsky, his friend and long-time business associate, who is now mourning yet another allys death in suspicious circumstances.

Scotland Yard had spent months examining evidence of a plot to kill Mr Patarkatsishvili, 52, but it was at 10.48pm on Tuesday that Surrey Police were alerted by paramedics to his fatal collapse. According to Mr Berezovsky, his friend had been complaining about his heart when they met on Tuesday. A source said that the discomfort of six hours in the warmth of Lord Goldsmiths room might have been to blame.

The Georgian exile was said to be smoking 20 cigarettes a day, although he could devour as many as 60. His father was said to have died aged 48 of a heart attack but the oligarch had no known medical condition.

Badri never exercised and was overweight, a business colleague said last night. He was 200 per cent a family man with a lovely wife, two married daughters and a granddaughter who was the apple of his eye.

Since late last year Mr Patarkatsishvili, protected by 120 bodyguards, had been saying that he feared he would be assassinated in London by the Georgian authorities. In December he said he had been the target of at least two assassination attempts in Britain. The Georgian authorities had accused him of plotting a coup.

A covertly recorded audiotape purporting to be a conversation between a Chechen hitman and an official from the Georgian Interior Ministry was played in December to The Sunday Times. The voices suggested killing the Georgian in England or arranging for a helicopter or aircraft crash. Even if he had 100 people guarding him, well thats not a problem, the official is heard to say. Our issue is such that well destroy these guards.

There was every reason for Mr Patarkatsishvili to be frightened. His friend and colleague Alexander Litvinenko had been murdered in London in a suspected Russian poison plot using radioactive polonium-210. The Georgian had even sheltered the dissident former KGB man as he fled from President Putins clutches.

The web does not end there. The suspect wanted by Britain to be tried for murdering Mr Litvinenko is a former employee of Mr Patarkatsishvili and Mr Berezovsky. Andrei Lugovoy was security chief at their television station.

Mr Lugovoy, who denies anything to do with the poisoning, has a further link to Mr Patarkatsishvilis final hours. Mr Lugovoy was jailed in 2001 for a failed attempt to free Nikolai Glushkov, the deputy director of Aeroflot, who was being held for alleged fraud. Mr Patarkatsishvili was accused by Russia of plotting that foiled escape. And who did the Georgian spend four hours with in Lord Goldsmiths office on Tuesday? Mr Glushkov, now safely in London.

Plots, real and imagined, are all too easy to spot in the world of spies, politicians, financiers and gangsters into which the old Soviet Union descended. Mr Patarkatsishvili was far from above suspicion. He was regarded as little better than a mobster by General Aleksandr Korzhakov, former head of the Russian Presidential Security Service. Badri, Boris Yeltsins one-time bodyguard told the author Paul Klebnikov for his book Godfather of the Kremlin, has an alias, like any gangster. In the criminal underworld he is known as Badar. Klebnikov claimed that police sources saw Mr Patarkatsishvili as a go-between to Russian organised crime groups. The writer is unavailable for comment he was shot four times as he left work as editor of Forbes Russia in Moscow in 2004.

Mr Patarkatsishvili was a business associate of Mr Berezovsky and Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea Football Club owner. The clique were said to be behind the choice of Vladimir Putin as president. When Mr Putin turned on Mr Berezovsky, Mr Patarkatsishvili stuck with his business partner and Mr Abramovich chose the Kremlin.

Recently Mr Patarkatsishvilis prominent financing of the opposition to Georgias pro-Western leadership, even standing as a candidate in last months presidential election, is said to have pleased Russia.

The Georgian oligarchs final day of business began with a prolonged meeting with Lord Goldsmith. The former Labour politician had been advising him on numerous disputes with the Georgian authorities over assets and withdrawal of licences. Also present were Mr Glushkov and Yuli Dubov, wanted for fraud in Russia but given asylum by Britain. After four hours of private talks, they were joined by Mr Berezovsky and his PR man, Lord Bell, for another two-hour session.

Mr Patarkatsiskvili was said by Lord Bell to have left the room to get some fresh air but seemed fine and full of energy when he returned. The Georgian then joined Mr Berezovsky at his Mayfair offices and, at 7pm, took his chauffeur-driven limousine home to his home, Downside Manor, near Leatherhead, Surrey.

It is unclear whether the family had their servants prepare a meal or sent out for a takeaway, but after eating, Mr Patarkatsishvili, worth an estimated 6 billion, went upstairs and collapsed in his bedroom. His wife and children called an ambulance.

Mr Berezovsky was woken at 3am to learn that another of his friends had died. He rushed to the manor but police had secured the windows and doors to preserve it as a crime scene and the Russian was refused entry.

Surrey Police said that the death was being treated as suspicious but a source said this was because it was sudden. Mr Berezovsky issued a statement: The death of Badri Patarkatsishvili is a terrible tragedy. I have lost my closest friend.


numeral - June 26, 2011 03:03 AM (GMT)
Did Russian mafia kill the body-in-a-bag spy? MI6 man  found dead in holdall in London, was developing secret technology to track gangsters' laundered cash

By Abul Taher and Robert Verkaik
Last updated at 10:05 PM on 25th June 2011

The MI6 agent found dead in a holdall at his London flat was working on secret technology to target Russian criminal gangs who launder stolen money through Britain.

The revelation adds weight to claims that Gareth Williams was killed because of his secret work and raises the possibility that the Russian mafia has targeted British spies.

Mr Williams was found locked inside a large North Face holdall  in the bath at his top-floor flat in Pimlico, Central London, on August 23 last year.

It was initially suggested that the 31-year-old died accidentally at the hands of a mystery bondage sex partner he may have met on Londons gay scene.

But now security sources say Williams, who was on secondment to MI6 from the Governments eavesdropping centre GCHQ, was working on equipment that tracked the flow of money from Russia to Europe.

The technology enabled MI6 agents to follow the money trails from bank accounts in Russia to criminal European gangs via  internet and wire transfers, said the source.

He was involved in a very sensitive project with the highest security clearance. He was not an agent doing surveillance, but was very much part of the team, working on the technology side, devising stuff like software, said the source.

He added: A knock-on effect of this technology would be that a number of criminal groups in  Russia would be disrupted.

Some of these powerful criminal networks have links with, and employ, former KGB agents who can track down people like  Williams.

Last year, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Mr Williams, a keen cyclist from Anglesey, North Wales, was involved in another secretive project, developing devices that can steal data from mobile phones and laptops using wireless technology.

A close friend also revealed that Williams was training to take on a new identity when he died.

Tory MP and security expert Patrick Mercer said last night: The revelation that Gareth Williams was involved in investigating money-laundering throughout Eastern Europe throws new light on to his death.

'I am sure the police would want to investigate these facts as thoroughly as they have done the details of his private life.

Neither GCHQ nor the Metropolitan police would discuss the new information.

The suggestion that Mr Williams died when a sex game got out of hand was raised when investigators found he enjoyed going to drag  cabaret shows, had 15,000 worth of unworn womens designer clothing in a wardrobe at his Alderney  Street home, and had visited bondage websites.

But his family reject claims that their fitness-fanatic son was gay and have been angered at the way the police allowed his private life to dominate their inquiry.

The inquest into Mr Williams death which sparked several outlandish conspiracy theories will resume in September, when as many as 40 spies who have been questioned by police could give evidence anonymously.

A battery of post-mortem tests have so far failed to determine how he died and detectives say it would have been impossible for him to lock himself inside the bag.

No evidence of drugs, alcohol or poisons has been found but police said anyone zipped inside the bag would have suffocated within 30 minutes.

Coroner Paul Knapman adjourned an inquest in February while Scotland Yard detectives await the results of a fresh round of forensic tests.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire admitted the likelihood of tracing a Mediterranean-looking couple seen at Mr Williamss home weeks before his death is diminishing.

Since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Russian mafia gangs have infiltrated all parts of the Russian state and its economy.

They now control vast business and property interests outside Russia which are used to launder their fortunes, often made from state corruption.

The growing threat to  the West posed by East European criminal gangs was confirmed last week when a major Ukrainian hacking ring was disrupted.

The 16-strong gang had funnelled 45 million from Western banks into accounts in Cyprus and Latvia, using a computer virus called Conficker.

One British source said: Much of the Russian government at various levels, national and regional, operates like a kleptocracy, with bureaucrats visibly on the take.

Obviously we are worried if this money  is pouring into London, and then into buying property or other assets such as companies  or investments.

The fact is that London remains the financial centre of choice for most Russians.

London and the surrounding area has one of the largest Russian populations of any city outside the former USSR, with up to 400,000 Russians living in the South East.

The capital has been nicknamed Moscow-on-Thames and Londongrad because of its population of wealthy emigrees, including respected tycoons close to strongman premier Vladimir Putin, such as Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, as well as some of the Kremlins most outspoken enemies, such as the billionaire Boris Berezovsky.

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