British MI6 withheld evidence in dead spy case
MI6 failed to hand police dead spy Gareth Williams’ belongings
The inquest into Mr Williams death has begun its summing up
1 May 2012 Last updated at 15:24
MI6 failed to pass police a lot of Gareth Williams’ belongings during the probe into his death, an inquest heard.
Officers discovered on Monday that MI6 withheld computer memory sticks found in his office and a North Face bag similar to the one he was found in.
Secret services also searched his “electronic media” without informing police, a leading detective said.
The body of the 31-year-old code-breaker from Anglesey was found locked in a bag in his London flat in 2010.
Det Ch Insp Jackie Sebire, who is leading the investigation, told Westminster Coroner’s Court that she “would have expected to have been told” about the belongings in 2010.
“What I knew was that Gareth’s email accounts had been checked, but I did not know that other media had been checked,” Ms Sebire said.
She added that she was not surprised that Mr Williams had left memory sticks at his office, “given his line of work”.
Search ‘not completed’
Scotland Yard’s Det Const Colin Hall, of the counter-terror SO15 branch, was questioned about his search of Mr Williams’ MI6 office on 26 August 2010, saying he did not seize computer memory sticks because he was told they contained material “of a sensitive nature”.
Asked why he had failed to seize a black North Face bag discovered under the spy’s desk, Mr Hall said: “I was told there was nothing there about Gareth’s death.”
“The bag was looked through and searched but nothing was seized… it contained work related items, it contained personal items.”
Mr Hall was accused by the barrister for the Williams’ family of failing to take the task as seriously as he should have done because the work was linked to the secret services.
But Mr Hall said that his team “had not completed our search” of the Vauxhall HQ because it was called off on the orders of senior detectives.
“I will do what I’m told,” said he added.
Coroner Fiona Wilcox ordered Mr Hall to re-examine the missed evidence of the black bag in front of the courtroom.
Det Supt Michael Broster of the counter-terror SO15 branch was recalled later to give further evidence about the search of Mr Williams’ office.
Mr Broster told the inquiry he may have “neglected” to tell exhibit officer Det Const Hall to log details of a seized work phone and that, in hindsight, his team should have examined the memory sticks instead of passing them to MI6.
He also said he had not checked if a set of keys found in Mr Williams’ work locker fitted his flat, but accepted they were for the office, as he was told by MI6.
Mr Broster insisted he had taken what he believed was relevant material, and that he had acted impartially.
The inquest into the death of Mr Williams is hearing a final round-up of evidence from the case, following a 21-month police investigation. A verdict is expected on Wednesday.
His body was found naked in a padlocked holdall in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London.
Three pathologists who conducted post-mortem examinations gave evidence at Westminster Coroner’s Court, have been unable to reach a firm conclusion on how Mr Williams died.
But they said poisoning and asphyxiation are the foremost contenders as the cause of death.
The inquest will hear again from the forensic scientist Ros Hammond, as well as a new witness from MI6 known as Witness D.