Police have contradicted a coroner over the death of a British spy found padlocked in a bag in a bathtub.
The body of Gareth Williams, an employee of Britain’s external intelligence service M16, was found decomposing at his home in August 2010.
Last year a coroner concluded he was probably killed unlawfully by another person, fuelling conspiracy theories that his bizarre death was the work of foreign agents.
But London Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt today said it was probably an accident and that his death was not linked to his work.
In a statement, Williams’s family said they still believed the coroner’s conclusions more accurately reflected what had happened, and repeated their anger that MI6 had failed to report Williams missing for days after he did not show up at work.
Williams, 31, worked as a code breaker at the Government Communications Headquarters but was on a three-year secondment to MI6, which deals with foreign espionage matters.
The remains of the maths prodigy were found curled up inside a zipped and padlocked red hold-all at the London flat – an intelligence service “safe house” – close to MI6’s headquarters.
His body was badly decomposed after remaining in the bag in the August heat for a full week until he was discovered. Tests found no traces of alcohol, drugs or poison in his body.
Detectives found no palm prints on the side of the bath nor any traces of his DNA on the padlock.
Instead, they found make-up, a long-haired wig and unworn women’s clothes and shoes worth around £20,000 (€23,833). They also found images of transvestites, a picture of Williams wearing only boots, and evidence of visits to sexual bondage websites on his computer.
“This is a case where there’s been enormous theorising and speculating…and weird and wonderful stories,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt admitted the original police investigation had been flawed and after the inquest they pursued new lines of inquiry.
But detectives found no evidence anyone had been in the flat when he died. Hewitt rejected suggestions the flat could have undergone a “forensic clean” to remove traces of any killers.
Despite the fact that there had always been doubt that someone could have locked themselves in a bag – a number of experts tried and failed – Hewitt said they now believed this was what Williams had done.
“It’s theoretically possible for someone to do that. It is a more probable conclusion that there was no other person present,” said Hewitt, who agreed Williams’s interest in escapology might have been a factor.