MI6 spy death investigation

Members of the secret services are expected to come under scrutiny as detectives redouble their efforts to solve the death of MI6 officer Gareth Williams. Yesterday a coroner delivered a narrative verdict but said he was probably unlawfully killed.

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New inquiry launched after inquest into the death of MI6 spy

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt promises a new inquiry after the inquest verdict into the death of MI6 Spy Gareth Williams.

The coroner in the inquest into the death of Welsh MI6 officer Gareth Williams today delivered a narrative verdict.

Dr Fiona Wilcox had said open and narrative verdicts were the only options available to her upon hearing legal submissions.

But she said an open verdict “would not do justice to the positive findings I can make."

She had already ruled out a verdict of unlawful killing.

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Family of Gareth Williams "extremely disappointed" with M16

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.

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

Family of Gareth Williams hit out MI6 "failures"

The family of Gareth Williams have hit out at the failures of MI6 to raise the alarm after the spy went missing.

In a statement they said they were "extremely disappointed" at the secret services' "reluctance and failure" to make relevant information available to the 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.

Reading the statement, lawyer Robyn Williams said:

To lose a son and a brother at any time is a tragedy.

To lose a son and brother in such circumstances as have been outlined during the course of this inquest only compounds the tragedy.

Our grief is exacerbated by the failure of his employers at MI6 to take even the most basic inquiries as to his whereabouts and welfare, which any reasonable employer would have taken.

– Family statement

"We are also extremely disappointed at the reluctance and failure of MI6 to make available relevant information.

"We would like to ask Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to look into and review how this investigation will proceed in light of the total inadequacies of the SO15 investigation into MI6 during the course of this inquiry."

– Family statement

The family described the brilliant code-breaker as a "special and adored son and brother" who they missed "every single day".

They said: "(We) cannot describe the depth of the sorrow his absence leaves in our lives.

"We love you, Gareth, and will treasure your memory eternally.

"To live on in the hearts of those we love and leave behind is not to die."

– Family statement

Statement from MI6 after Spy inquest verdict

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.

On behalf of the whole organisation, Sir John regrets this deeply and apologises unreservedly. MI6 chief said lessons have been learned, in particular the responsibility of all staff to report unaccounted staff absences.

Mr Williams "was a man of remarkable talents, talents which he devoted to the public service", the statement added.

The work that Gareth undertook both at Cheltenham and in London made a real contribution to the security of this country and of its citizens, it said.

– Sir John Sawers, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service

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Coroner's conclusions: "Gareth was unlawfully killed'

In concluding her narrative verdict Westminster coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox told the inquest that she was sure a third party was involved, and that that third party had not been invited in. She added that she was "sure that a third party moved the bag containing Gareth into the bath".

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.

Coroner: Death was of "unnatural cause".

Dr Fiona Wilcox said there was no evidence of defensive or inflicted injuries on Gareth's body. Although his cause of death was unascertained, the coroner said that she was satisfied that Gareth's death was of "unnatural cause", but that she could not be sure he was unlawfully killed.

She added that it was "very difficult to manipulate a body into the position Gareth was found in. There was no evidence of a construed attempt on his part of trying to escape. She concluded that it was likely Gareth entered the bag alive and died shortly afterwards.

Spy coroner: MI6 evidence "difficult to accept"

Gareth would travel back to Wales every weekend and his colleagues at MI6 thought he was just late back. Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said she found this evidence difficult to accept from Williams' line manager, Witness G.

Witness G still says he believed that whole week that Gareth was legitimately absent, and was obviously sorting things out in his personal life and had just forgotten to go to work.

If Witness G had found Gareth's leave card he would have known that he was not on leave and, in fact, missing.

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