Police took the unusual decision yesterday to step in and deny increasingly lurid reports about the private life of the murdered GCHQ officer Gareth Williams.
Scotland Yard sources said that reports of bondage equipment found at his flat and a "ritualistic" arrangement of his possessions were untrue. A spokesman later added that the detective team investigating the death, had clarified the accuracy of the reports "out of respect" for Mr Williams' relatives.
Mr William's body was found stuffed into a holdall in the bathroom on his home in Pimlico, central London, last week. Since the discovery suggestions regarding Mr Williams' private life and sexual tendencies have been rife.
Reports included the suggestion that the 30-year-old was, variously, a male escort or a transvestite; that bondage equipment had been found at his flat; and that a dozen mobile phone SIM cards had been laid out in a ritualistic manner in his home.
His family said they feared there was a smear campaign. Mr Williams' uncle told newspapers: "The family are concerned it may have been an attempt to put false, unkind details about Gareth's private life into the public domain to diminish him and take attention away from the security services he worked so loyally for."
All police have previously confirmed is that they are investigating a "suspicious death" – preferring that term to murder – and that the last known sighting of Mr Williams was in London on Sunday 15 August, eight days before his body was found. Initial reports said he had not been seen for a fortnight.
His body was discovered when police were called to check on him after a colleague voiced concerns.
Those scant details aside, little is known about precisely when, why or how Mr Williams died. As is usual in such cases, police have not confirmed any potential motive they are investigating. Early speculation suggested that Mr Williams' job may have been the reason for his death. But latterly, the focus has shone more on his personal life. Last week a pathologist was unable to establish a cause of death. Toxicology tests will determine if he was poisoned, or if drugs or alcohol were a factor. But the report suggested he was not stabbed.
On Saturday night Channel 4 News claimed that the initial police report had stated that Mr Williams' death was a "neat job", suggesting that he was killed by someone who knew what they were doing.
There are also suggestions that Scotland Yard detectives have become frustrated with the interference of colleagues in the intelligence agencies who are not used to their own organisations or employees being the subject of investigations. Police are also said to be investigating payments and withdrawals of thousands of pounds into and out of Mr Williams' bank account in the days leading up to his death.