The boss of Gareth Williams, whose naked body was found in a padlocked bag, faced severe criticism at the inquest into the MI6 officer's death for failing to issue an effective alert despite the agent not being at work for more than a week.
The executive of the Secret Intelligence Service [MI6], who was referred to as Witness G and gave his evidence from behind a screen, was forced to admit under cross-examination that he should have done much more to find out what had happened to Mr Williams. Westminster Coroners Court heard that Witness G had not reported that Mr Williams had disappeared through appropriate channels, despite knowing that the computer specialist had missed meetings with colleagues.
Witness G told the court that procedures had been reviewed following the 34-year-old Mr Williams' death in August 2010. But he acknowledged he should have informed MI6's welfare service the day he did not report at his office.
Under questioning from Mr O'Toole, Witness G admitted that he had not informed Ceri Subbe, Mr Williams' sister, of the disappearance on 20 August, five days after he had not heard from her brother, as he had stated in an interview with police.
He had, in fact, made the call the following Monday. The family alerted the police on the same day and Mr Williams' body was found in a red holdall at his flat in Pimlico, south-west London.
As the court heard of repeated missed instances when alarm could have been raised over Mr Williams, the coroner Fiona Wilcox said to the MI6 executive: "I am really struggling to understand why you took no action at this point."
Witness G responded: "In hindsight, knowing what I know now, should I have taken action? Absolutely. I still had that gut feeling that he was away doing something that I was not made aware of."
Mr O'Toole also raised the possibility, earlier, that MI6 and GCHQ may have interfered with evidence that was passed on to the police.