Death of British Spy: Was It Sex Play Gone Wrong Or Espionage?
A delay in reporting as missing a British spy whose naked and decomposing body was later found locked inside a sports bag frustrated police inquiries into his mysterious death, witnesses told an inquest hearing Thursday.
Gareth Williams, 31, worked for Britain’s secret eavesdropping service GCHQ but was attached to the country’s MI6 overseas spy agency when his remains were found in August 2010 inside the bag and in a bathtub at his central London apartment.
The inquest hearing was previously told the spy’s manager at MI6, formally known as the Secret Intelligence Service, didn’t raise the alarm for a week after Williams first failed to appear for work, complicating the task for investigators.
Members of Williams’ family walked out of the hearing in tears Thursday as a second colleague- an intelligence officer identified only as SIS F - acknowledged that the delay "had some impact on the police investigation."
"We are profoundly sorry about what happened," she told the hearing, speaking from behind a screen to preserve her anonymity. "It shouldn’t have happened and we recognize that the delay in finding Gareth’s body has made it even harder for the family to come to terms with his dreadful death and we are truly sorry for that."
"I also appreciate the delay had some impact on the police investigation," the intelligence officer said.
Forensic expert Denise Stanworth said the delay had meant that toxicology tests conducted on the spy’s body couldn’t be totally reliable in determining whether Williams had been poisoned before his death.
"In terms of many of the drugs, reliable, but in terms of the more volatile substances, not that reliable," Stanworth told the hearing.
Anthony O’Toole, lawyer for the Williams family, told the hearing that relatives believed MI6 colleagues had shown a "total disregard for Gareth’s whereabouts and safety," after failing to alert senior managers and relatives about his disappearance for a week.