Detectives reviewing the death of ‘spy in the bag’ Gareth Williams are examining new forensic leads, it emerged yesterday.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed it had launched a ‘forensic review’ of the MI6 analyst’s mysterious death.
Mr Williams’s naked body was found inside a holdall – which was padlocked from the outside – in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London, in August 2010. The keys were found inside the bag with him.
In 2013, Scotland Yard said the 31-year-old, a brilliant mathematician who worked for the intelligence agency GCHQ, probably died by accident after getting into the bag on his own.
Detectives reviewing the death of ‘spy in the bag’ Gareth Williams (above) are examining new forensic leads, it emerged yesterday. The Metropolitan Police confirmed it had launched a ‘forensic review’ of the MI6 analyst’s mysterious death
But a year earlier an inquest ruled that he may have been unlawfully killed. His family believe he was murdered.
At the time of his death Mr Williams had been seconded from GCHQ to MI6 and is believed to have been tracing money laundering routes used by the Russian mafia. His death is one of 14 reportedly highlighted by US intelligence as potentially having Russian involvement.
Advances in DNA and forensic techniques now mean a strand of hair found on Mr Williams’s hand – from which experts could not extract a DNA profile – may shed new light on the case.
Experts previously needed the root of a hair to determine a DNA profile, but leading forensic scientist
Mr Williams’s naked body was found inside a holdall – which was padlocked from the outside – in the bath of his flat (above) in Pimlico, central London, in August 2010. The keys were found inside the bag with him
Professor Angela Gallop said recently that this was no longer the case, and investigators only need as little as 2mm of hair.
Traces of the DNA of two unidentified people found on the handle and padlock of the bag, plus the DNA of another unknown person on a green towel in Mr Williams’s flat, could also be re-examined.
Professor Gallop and retired Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell, who oversaw the original case, have both previously called for a forensic review.
The inquiry will be led by Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Morgan, head of the Met’s homicide and serious crime command team.
A Met spokesman said: ‘There is an established review process for investigations whereby new information and/or forensic opportunities are considered. The Met is currently undertaking a forensic review to assess whether there are any new investigative opportunities in this case, and we await its outcome.
‘We remain in close contact with Gareth’s family to ensure they are fully supported.’
Mr Williams, who passed A-level maths aged 13 and secured a first-class university degree in the subject at 17, was recruited to the intelligence services while studying for a PhD at Manchester University.
Advances in DNA and forensic techniques now mean a strand of hair found on Mr Williams’s hand – from which experts could not extract a DNA profile – may shed new light on the case. (Above, the scene in 2010)
At his inquest, lawyers for his family suggested evidence of foul play included the lack of fingerprints on the bath and the fact that even though it was the height of summer the heating had been turned up in his flat, which caused his body to decompose quickly.
They also queried why no one from MI6 had reported the mobile phone analyst missing, even though Mr Williams had failed to turn up for work for five days, and questioned why an MI6 officer subsequently sent to check on Mr Williams had not forced entry to his flat when no one answered the door.
Mr Campbell told The Sunday Times in March that he didn’t believe Mr Williams, a keen cyclist who grew up on Anglesey, north Wales, had been murdered.
Instead he pointed to Mr Williams’s private life. Officers discovered he had searched bondage and fetish websites, visited drag clubs and bought £20,000 of women’s designer clothing in the two years before his death.
‘This all formed part of who he was,’ Mr Campbell said. ‘It wouldn’t be the first time in homicide and sex games that the death has caused a panic. Then there’s a cover-up to avoid responsibility or to avoid shame or embarrassment.’
Detectives also found a semen stain on the bathroom floor, leading them to suspect that Mr Williams was involved in sexual activity shortly before his death.