UK spy found dead in locked bag 'not murder'

Police say MI6 worker Gareth Williams, whose body was found in a padlocked bag, died accidentally and on his own.

Last updated: 13 Nov 2013 18:52
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Gareth Williams was working for MI6 when he was found dead locked in a bag in a bath tub [AFP]

A British spy whose naked, decomposing body was found padlocked in a bag in his bath probably died accidentally on his own, police in the UK have said, rejecting conspiracy theories that his death was the work of foreign agents.

The Metropolitan Police's deputy assistant commissioner, Martin Hewitt, said on Wednesday that investigations suggested it was likely Gareth Williams, a code-breaker working for MI6, had not been murdered.

"Most probably, it was an accident," Hewitt said. "I'm convinced that Gareth's death was in no way linked to his work."

This is a case where there's been enormous theorising and speculating...and weird and wonderful stories... It is a more probable conclusion that there was no other person present

Martin Hewitt, London Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner

In May last year, a coroner concluded that Williams was probably killed unlawfully by another person.

Williams, 31, worked as a code breaker at the GCHQ but was on a three-year secondment to MI6, which deals with foreign espionage matters. His remains were found inside a zipped and padlocked red hold-all at an intelligence service "safe house" close to MI6's headquarters.

His body had laid undiscovered for a week. Tests found no traces of alcohol, drugs or poison in his body. Detectives found no palm prints on the side of the bath nor any traces of his DNA on the padlock.

Hewitt admitted the original police investigation had been flawed, and after the inquest they pursued new lines of inquiry. But detectives found no evidence anyone had been in the flat when he died.

He rejected suggestions the flat could have undergone a "forensic clean" to remove traces of any killers.

Despite the fact that there had always been doubt that someone could have locked themselves in a bag, as a number of experts tried and failed, Hewitt said they now believed this was what Williams had done, though he had not intended to kill themselves.

"It's theoretically possible for someone to do that. It is a more probable conclusion that there was no other person present," said Hewitt.


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