Coroner criticises MI6 investigation into spy Gareth Williams' death

 

MI6 and a senior detective were accused today of failing to disclose vital evidence in the death riddle of spy Gareth Williams.

A coroner suggested the counter-terror officer was not being "completely impartial" towards secret services during the Scotland Yard inquiry.

Detective Superintendent Michael Broster was criticised after his assistant was told he had offered evidence as "helpful as a London pea souper" at the inquest into Mr Williams's death.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox and the family's lawyer both delivered angry outbursts after it emerged that nine computer memory sticks and a black bag were overlooked for 21 months after the death.

The lead detective on the case was told about the evidence only yesterday.

Dr Wilcox told Mr Broster, who was unable to rule out secret service involvement in the death, that he was offering "total non-sequitur" reasons for failing to pass on evidence.

"I suggest that this means you have not been completely impartial in this case," she told him at Westminster Coroner's Court.

As Dr Wilcox ordered police to bring the missed evidence into the inquest into Mr Williams's death, family barrister Anthony O'Toole told police they had not taken the incident seriously enough.

The lawyer said: "If this had not involved SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) and it was the Kray twins you were investigating, you would have gone into this in far more detail."

The North Face bag - similar to the one in which Mr Williams was found dead at his flat - was discovered by officers under the spy's desk at MI6's London HQ.

MI6 also examined computer equipment belonging to Mr Williams without telling police, the inquest heard.

Members of Mr Williams's family shook their heads as Detective Constable Colin Hall, of the force's counter-terror SO15 branch, said his search of the agent's Vauxhall HQ was called off shortly after the spy was found dead.

Mr Hall said "there was stuff in there of a sensitive nature" in the bag but, when asked what, he said he could not remember.

Mr O'Toole added: "That's about as helpful as a London pea souper."

Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, the lead officer on the case, said she had no knowledge of the existence of memory sticks in his cabinet at work or the bag.

She said: "I would have expected to have been told.

"What I knew was that Gareth's email accounts had been checked but I did not know that other media had been checked."

Mr Hall was ordered to re-examine the black bag in the courtroom as the inquest heard its last day's evidence.

The 31-year-old fitness enthusiast was found naked, curled up in a padlocked holdall in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London, on August 23 2010.

Dr Wilcox asked Mr Hall: "Would you not consider that seizing another sports bag might be relevant?"

He replied: "I was told there was nothing there about Gareth's death."

He later said: "I will do what I'm told."

He added that "we had not completed our search" when he was told to wrap up efforts on his first visit on August 26.

Pathologists said yesterday that Mr Williams would have suffocated within three minutes after getting inside the bag.

Poisoning and asphyxiation are the "foremost contenders" in solving the death riddle, they added.

Mr Broster said later that he was "completely impartial" and secret services had been helpful with inquiries.

"I have seen no information or evidence that someone is involved. I am not saying that a member of SIS is not involved. I don't know."

Ms Sebire said she remained convinced Mr Williams' death was "suspicious".

"Obviously a lot of information has come out through the course of this inquest which we have not been party to," she told the inquest.

Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell is set to consider whether there are any new lines of inquiry in the next few weeks.

Ms Sebire added: "Once the inquest is over, Mr Campbell will review the structure and we will look at all lines of inquiry."

She added: "It's an ongoing process as it has been since it started."

There will be inquiries into computer equipment and "Gareth's work colleagues", Ms Sebire said.

She said Mr Williams was a "brilliant young man who spent his entire life working for his country and was commended for it".

She added: My strongest belief is that a third party was involved and I would ask people to search their consciounces and come to us to find some resolutions to this case and some peace for his family."

The inquest was adjourned until tomorrow when the coroner will hear final legal submissions before delivering her verdict.

PA

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus all the build-up to Man City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Palace
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam