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Home Office statement following claims that the security services are under "unprecedented pressure"

The Home Office has responded to claims that preparations for the London Olympics are putting a strain on the country's security services.

"The Security Service prioritises its resources to meet the highest threats day in and day out and has made lengthy and thorough preparations to meet this summer's security challenges.

"The focus of the Government is to deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games that London, the UK and the world can enjoy."

– Home Office spokesman

Olympics puts intelligence services under "unprecedented pressure"

MPs have warned that the preparations for the London Olympics have put the intelligence and security agencies under "unprecedented pressure."

The parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) - which oversees the work of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ - expressed concern that risks were been taken with other aspects of security because of the demands of the Olympics.

Staff have been taken off lower priority areas of work so that they can concentrate on the potential threat to the Games.


Family attack MI6 failures

The family of MI6 spy Gareth Williams have hit out at the failures of MI6 to raise the alarm after the spy went missing, saying their "grief is exacerbated" by it.

In a statement read out by their solicitor after the inquest into his death concluded, they said they were "extremely disappointed" at the secret services' "reluctance and failure" to make relevant information available to the death inquiry.

They also attacked the "total inadequacies" of the inquiry by Metropolitan Police counter-terror branch SO15 into MI6 and called on Scotland Yard's chief to look into how the investigation would proceed in light of this.

MI6 chief apologies to family of Gareth Williams

One of Britain's most senior spies apologised to Gareth Williams' family today for the mix-up which saw MI6 fail to report his disappearance for a week.

Sir John Sawers, chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, expressed the "deepest condolences" of MI6 and GCHQ for the death.

In a statement delivered by MI6 lawyer Andrew O'Connor, Sir John said the service should have acted more swiftly when Mr Williams failed to turn up to work in August 2010.

Mr O'Connor said: "On behalf of the whole organisation, Sir John regrets this deeply and apologises unreservedly."

Spy would have suffocated in holdall within '3 minutes'

MI6 spy Gareth Williams would have suffocated within three minutes after getting inside his sports holdall, an inquest heard today.

Poisoning and asphyxiation are the "foremost contenders" in solving the death riddle, pathologists said.

It also emerged scientists found traces of "at least" two unknown people in his apartment despite evidence Mr Williams rarely invited people over.

Forensic expert Ros Hammond said there were hopes of a breakthrough "within a matter of weeks" from DNA tests found on a green towel in his kitchen.

"There's hope," she told Westminster Coroner's Court. "The tests are still in progress and there may be some promising results from those tests."

Ms Hammond said a third party would not necessarily have left any DNA on his red North Face bag and padlock.


'Dark arts' query over spy's death

Secret agents specialising in the "dark arts" might have tried to cover up the death of an MI6 spy found in a holdall, a coroner has heard.

Relatives believe a third party was either present when Gareth Williams died or broke into his home afterwards to destroy evidence, lawyer Anthony O'Toole said.

The family is demanding answers after Scotland Yard revealed a key line of its inquiries had been an 18-month DNA mix-up.

Mr O'Toole told a pre-inquest review that Westminster Coroner's Court must establish why there was no evidence of another person in his London apartment when he died.

He said: "The impression of the family is that the unknown third party was a member of some agency specialising in the dark arts of the secret services - or evidence has been removed post-mortem by experts in the dark arts."

  1. Jon Clements

Review hears about 'problems in the DNA analysis'

A lawyer for the police said he was worried about "sensationalising" the inquest with a live demonstration of the bag and offers a video clip by an expert as alternative.

Police reveal "problems in the DNA analysis" of mixed profile found on Williams' hand - found the contamination was from scientist at scene.

The error was spotted by a scientist who's evidence helped convict the killers of Stephen Lawrence in January. The coroner wants to hear from her.

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