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Gareth Williams case: new investigation

Gareth Williams’ body was discovered in a padlocked holdall at his central London flat in 2010. Photo: ITV Wales News

A new investigation is to be launched into the death of Welsh MI6 officer Gareth Williams.

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, who is leading the investigation, said the inquest had raised 'several new lines of inquiry', and the investigation 'will now refocus and actively pursue all the evidence heard'.

Members of the secret services are expected to come under scrutiny as a coroner said she was sure a third party was involved in Mr Williams' death.

Yesterday Westminster coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox delivered a narrative verdict but added that he was probably unlawfully killed.

The cause of his death was unnatural and likely to have been criminally mediated. I am therefore satisfied that on the balance of probabilities that Gareth was killed unlawfully.

– Dr Fiona Wilcox

In concluding her narrative verdict, Dr Wilcox told the inquest that she thought Mr Williams had entered the bag alive, but that anyone involved in locking it was certainly involved in the death. She said she believed the purpose of placing the bag in the bath was to allow decay and fluids to drain away.

Dr Wilcox said that there was no evidence as to motive, no evidence related to work or who that third party may have been. She concluded that she had to record a narrative verdict as an open verdict would not do justice, and that on the balance of probabilities Gareth was killed unlawfully.

The discovery of Gareth Williams’ body in a padlocked holdall at his central London flat in 2010 attracted worldwide media attention and several conspiracy theories.

A 21-month police investigation had failed to establish exactly what happened to him.

The 31-year-old from Anglesey was on an attachment to MI6 from GCHQ in Gloucester at the time of his death.

He was last seen on August 15th on CCTV as he returned from a shopping trip.

A day later he failed to turn up to a work meeting - but it wasn't reported to police at the time.

It wasn't until August 23rd when police discovered his naked and decomposing body locked in a holdall in the bath in his en-suite.

The MI6 officer was found in the foetal position with the keys to the lock under him - but the lock was closed outside the bag.

Attention turned to whether he could have locked himself inside the bag, as experts themselves attempted it using an identical holdall.

Bag expert Peter Faulding said even world-famous escapologist Harry Houdini would have struggled to squeeze himself in.

Mr Faulding tried and failed to carry out the task more than 300 times before saying they were "unbelievable scenarios".

But William MacKay, who made more than 100 attempts with a yoga-practising assistant, said: "I would not like to say that it could not be done."

Pathologists agreed he would have suffocated within three minutes if he was alive when he got inside the 32in (81cm) by 19in (48cm) red North Face bag.

They said poisoning and asphyxiation were the ‘foremost contenders’ in solving the death riddle.

There were no signs of the codebreaker struggling to get out of the bag – and as experts repeatedly failed to secure the padlock from inside during their attempts, some were convinced a third party was present at the time of Mr Williams’ death.

His family had told the inquest they believed he may have been killed by an agent "specialising in the dark arts of the secret services".

Mr Williams’ private life also came under scrutiny as it emerged he had shown an interest in escapology and self-bondage.

His former landlady in Gloucestershire told the inquest she had once been called to the flat to find Mr Williams with his hands tied, saying he just wanted to see if he could get free.

The court also heard police had discovered thousands of pounds’ worth of designer women’s clothing, wigs and shoes at the codebreaker’s immaculate London flat - although a close friend said Mr Williams had showed no interest in cross-dressing and was a generous man who could have bought the items as gifts.

Yesterday the inquest heard that the MI6 has been accused of failing to disclose evidence to police during the investigation.

The court heard that the secret service held onto nine computer memory sticks and a black bag that were found at their headquarters in London after his death.

Det Ch Inspector Jackie Sebire told Westminster Coroner's Court she was only told about them on Monday and would have expected to have been informed about the belongings in 2010.

What I knew was that Gareth's email accounts had been checked, but I did not know that other media had been checked.

– Det Ch Inspector Jackie Sebire at Westminster Coroner's Court

She added that she was not surprised that Mr Williams had left memory sticks at his office "given his line of work".

Scotland Yard has vowed to pursue all fresh evidence which has emerged over the past week and a half.

Jackie Sebire, the senior detective on the case, said fresh attention could be shone on the codebreaker's colleagues at MI6.

But a source close to the inquiry said officers are still "some way off a breakthrough".

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

Lawyer Robyn Williams read a statement on behalf of Gareth Williams' family.

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