News In Depth
MI6 spy 'unhappy with London job'
An MI6 spy found dead in a sports bag had been unhappy living in London and complained about "friction" at the intelligence agency, an inquest has heard.
Gareth Williams, 31, hated the post-work drinking culture and "flash car competitions" at the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), his sister said.
He was due to move back to the West Country a week after his naked body was discovered padlocked inside a holdall in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London, on August 23 2010.
The inquest into Mr Williams's mysterious death began with evidence that Scotland Yard murder detectives were not able to speak to his MI6 colleagues directly.
Instead specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police's SO15 counter-terrorism command had to carry out the interviews and produce anonymised statements.
Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell, from the Met's homicide and serious crime command, said police were not shown any internal inquiry by SIS into what happened to the brilliant codebreaker.
But he stressed that MI6 co-operated fully with Scotland Yard, adding that he was not aware of MI5, MI6 or SO15 carrying out their own independent investigations into Mr Williams's death.
The spy's sister, Ceri Subbe, told the inquest her brother was excited when he began what was supposed to be a three-year secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, the Government listening station based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
But he missed the countryside and became disillusioned with the atmosphere at MI6's Vauxhall Cross headquarters in London.
"He disliked office culture, post-work drinks, flash car competitions and the rat race. He even spoke of friction in the office," Mrs Subbe said.
She added: "The job was not quite what he expected. He encountered more red tape than he was comfortable with."
In April 2010 he applied to return to GCHQ earlier than planned. MI6 "dragged their feet" in approving his request but eventually agreed he could go back to Cheltenham on September 1 2010.
Mr Williams, of Anglesey, North Wales, failed to turn up for a meeting at MI6 on August 16 2010, the inquest heard.
Mrs Subbe said she discussed her brother's absence with one of his colleagues.
She said: "He is very conscientious. The person I spoke to agreed, and said Gareth was like a Swiss clock - very punctual, very efficient, and it was very unlike him not to attend a meeting."
The discovery of the spy's body curled up in a large North Face holdall at his top floor flat in Alderney Street, Pimlico, sparked a painstaking investigation, worldwide media frenzy and several outlandish conspiracy theories.
Mrs Subbe was asked about £20,000 of women's clothes found in her brother's flat after his death, but said it was "not particularly" surprising and suggested they could have been a gift.
Paying tribute, she said he was "perfect" as a "big brother figure", adding: "It's impossible to do justice to Gareth's impressive character without meeting him."
She told the inquest she did not believe Mr Williams would let a potential killer in his upmarket London flat, adding: "I cannot emphasise enough his conscientiousness".
Four intelligence agents will give evidence to the inquest anonymously after Coroner Fiona Wilcox said there was a real risk of harm to national security and international relations if they were exposed.
Mr Williams was a keen cyclist, fell runner and mountaineer, and passionate about art, music and fashion, the inquest heard.
The mathematics prodigy was an "exceptional" academic who passed his O-levels aged 10, his A-levels a few years later, and studied at Bangor University when he was just 16.
His sister said he was "the most scrupulous risk-assessor" she had ever known.
She said he would turn back a few hundred yards from the summit of mountains if there was "the hint of adverse weather conditions", adding: "Better to be safe than sorry."
Mrs Subbe said her brother never told her he was being followed or felt threatened in any way, adding: "I cannot think as to why anybody would want to harm him."
Family members want to know why the alarm was not raised when Mr Williams initially failed to turn up to work.
By the time officers arrived at his flat, his body was so decomposed that evidence had been lost.
Dr Wilcox has indicated she may want to see a practical demonstration of how Mr Williams might have got into the bag and locked it himself.
The inquest was adjourned until Tuesday when Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, who led police inquiries, will give evidence.
what do you think?
And whyyy would you lock yourself inside a bag? Odd way to commit suicide...
"The mathematics prodigy worked as a cipher and codes expert for GCHQ, the Government listening station, but had been on secondment with MI6 since March 2010." He probably eaves dropped on something he should not have, can't understand why MI6 took so long to notice him not being at work. Was the person who commited this disturbed before trying to get rid of the body, that's prob why he was in a suitcase. Lots of tourists around, you would'nt look twice at someone walking by with one. Sounds like they have an idea but under the official secrets act, can't diclose. Feel for the family on this, this will be left open ended.
This level of 'delay' and incompetence on the part of the police and MI6 suggests that there is no interest in solving this case, or that the possible reasons behind it are already known to them and therefore of no interest to MI6, certainly not of airing them in the public domain: in essence MI6, is above the law and they pretend not to be on the receiving end of or committing killings.
Theres obviously someone not telling us something...Its as-if there not even treating it as suspicious!
Stranger than le- carre ! The police investigating cant speak to his colleagues but his sister can ? And then criticism of colleagues not reporting him missing but his own family dont either until so long has passed that hes decomposed ? And to dismiss as `not surprising` that he had £20000 of womens clothing in his flat as `not surprising` explains nothing .Is his sister an mi5/6 agent ? Ive got lots of questions for her .
Really hope the Coroner goes through with asking for the padlocked bag demo! cant wait to see how they get out of that one!!
The Secret Intelligence Service not much intelligence there, this is Quango we can do without save us billions replace them with the LONDON MET a fine upstanding honest ,uncorruptable anti-racist organisation.:))))
trying to match you - but failing badly.
Notice how whenever a police officer gets killed the police are all about catching the person who did it as they don't tolerate it happening to one of their own but as soon as it's a spy everyone just wants to brush it under the carpet like it didn't happen.
Perhaps he was bored with life and wearing different types of clothing, and thought to himself how can I cause a lot of media attention. Ahh... if I make my death look like murder...
Maybe he should have gone to Stoke?
can I please go work at MI6 so I can spend £20,000 on nice clothes? I like being blonde so I don't want the big red wig. post work drinking sounds a pretty good way of enemy spies getting info and compromising pix and videos?
sisters says he woudln't have let a killer in! Neither would I if the killer was stood there all in black camo, festooned with weaponry, but that isn't how killers work. aas he was cosily tucked into the bag he was obviously slipped a mickey by his macho mates worried about his drag queening exposing him to risks of being compromised by enemies.
ITS ALL A COVER UP, ALLWAYS IS
Bring in Miss Marples, she'll sort it! My guess it's a colleague...