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Brilliant spy's life of secrets

Gareth Williams crammed his life with secrets - in and out of work.

The 31-year-old excelled as a spy, producing "world-class" codebreaking intelligence for MI6 and the GCHQ eavesdropping station.

Colleagues, friends, family and police queued up to pay tribute to his extraordinary ability, which saw him land a first-class mathematics degree at 17.

But the teetotal fitness enthusiast lived a solitary personal life that was dramatically removed from the world of espionage.

Police, who painstakingly pieced together his unlikely interests, discovered a fiercely private bachelor fascinated by women's clothes and drag queen culture.

He enrolled on a fashion course and collected 20,000 of unworn designer women's clothing at his pristinely tidy flat, including 26 pairs of women's shoes designed by Christian Louboutin, Stella McCartney, Christian Dior and Chloe.

Small and medium-sized dresses were also hung up in pristine condition wrapped in tissue paper in his wardrobes along with women's wigs, including one Mr Williams had bought on a recent trip to Las Vegas.

Internet searches by Mr Williams and a video taken on his Apple iPhone suggested he wore the shoes.

The flamboyant interests were a far cry from the rigid discipline of work, where he was fast-tracked through the ranks at GCHQ before arriving at MI6 on secondment.

Stephen Gale, his boss at GCHQ's Cheltenham base, said Mr Williams stunned fellow intelligence specialists with his codebreaking talents when he landed his first job at 21.

He cycled around the Gloucestershire hills "like a red bullet" but won the respect of his colleagues for his "warm smile" and sense of humour under pressure, Mr Gale said.

Bosses were so impressed that they paid for him to gain further qualifications in advanced mathematics at Cambridge University.

Mr Gale said: "He was considered something of a prodigy and it was quite remarkable that he had achieved those levels of qualifications at such a young age.

"Colleagues recall a young man who was very close to his father - he spoke about their climbing trips together.

"They remember him as a keen cyclist. One colleague said it was like a red bullet flying around the place."

Mr Williams had won two awards at GCHQ, one for a "Herculean effort" in his top secret work, Mr Gale added.

But the keen cyclist and fell runner missed the countryside after arriving in London.

In the months before his death he passed an exam to become fully operational with MI6. His examiner said in a report: "I was particularly impressed with Gareth. This was definitely the most intense operational course that I have seen and the improvement needed was immense."

But sister Ceri Subbe said: "He disliked office culture, post-work drinks, flash car competitions and the rat race. He even spoke of friction in the office."

Ms Subbe said her brother was immensely close with his family, from Anglesey, Wales.

"In terms of a big brother figure, Gareth was perfect," she said.

"It's impossible to do justice to Gareth's impressive character without meeting him."

Mr Williams and Ms Subbe "had a truly magical time" during their last meeting for "dainty finger sandwiches" at the Ritz hotel, she said.

"As a family we were incredibly close," her statement said.

Jackie Sebire, the detective who led the inquiry into his death, said he should be showered with praise for his work in keeping Britain's shores safe.

Mr Williams was a "brilliant young man", she added.

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