Gareth Williams inquest: The seven unansweredquestions
FAMILY members leave the inquest into Gareth Williams’s death with more questions than answers.
Scotland Yard has vowed to pursue all new evidence which has emerged. But a source close to the inquiry said officers were still “some way off a breakthrough”.
Here is how the inquest has tried but failed to solve the riddle.
Q: Were secret agents specialising in the “dark arts” responsible for Mr Williams’s death in his Pimlico home?
A: Detectives have said from the start that third-party involvement was likely.
The fact there were no fingerprints at all in the flat suggested it had been professionally cleaned up. There were also nine computer memory sticks and a bag withheld by MI6.
Det Supt Michael Broster said: “I am not saying that a member of SIS [MI6] is not involved. I don’t know.”
Q: How was Williams able to get inside a holdall in his bathtub before padlocking himself in?
A: Bag expert Peter Faulding said even world-famous escapologist Harry Houdini would have struggled to squeeze himself in.
Mr Faulding tried and failed to carry out the task more than 300 times. But William MacKay, who made more than 100 attempts with a yoga-practising assistant, said: “I would not like to say that it could not be done.”
Q: Could a third party have been present when he died, despite no trace of DNA or fingerprints?
A: Forensic experts said it was entirely possible that someone could break in and kill Mr Williams without leaving any evidence.
Det Insp Sebire says she remains convinced someone was there. Forensic expert Ros Hammond said there were hopes of a breakthrough “within a matter of weeks” from DNA tests on a towel discovered in his kitchen.
Q: Why was there no sign of a struggle on his body? Could he have been drugged?
A: Poisoning and asphyxiation are the “foremost contenders” in causing Mr Williams’ death, pathologists said. But experts believe there would have been signs of damage to his fingers and hands if he had struggled to get out of the bag within the three minutes it would have taken to suffocate.
The fact that Mr Williams was dead for up to ten days before his post-mortem examination meant many poisons and/or bruise marks could have disappeared.
Q: Why did it take colleagues at MI6 more than a week to realise he was missing?
A: MI6 offered a range of excuses including his recent return from a trip to Las Vegas, delays on the trains and his imminent return to GCHQ.
Colleagues apologised to the family for the potential damage the mistakes did to the police inquiry.
Q: Has information been withheld because it could jeopardise secret security operations?
A: Family lawyer Anthony O’Toole was blocked on several occasions from asking detectives and MI6 about the use of an apparently unvetted estate agent to let Mr Williams’s flat. Relatives suspect the decision may have compromised the safety of the property. In addition, more than ten employees linked to GCHQ and MI6 were allowed to give evidence behind a screen to protect their identities.
Q: Could Mr Williams’s private life have had any significance in his death?
A: He had shown an interest in escapology and self-bondage. He once tied himself to his bed and had to be cut free.
But Det Con Simon Warren said Williams’s interest in bondage footage on his computer was “an isolated [incident] among other data”.