back to article Mistakes over GCHQ codebreaker's death crippled inquiry

Forensic investigators have apologized for the bungling of the inquiry into the mysterious death of a codebreaker employed by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). In August 2010, Gareth Williams, described as a mathematical genius by his peers and employed at GCHQ since leaving university, was found dead in his …

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Anonymous Coward

strange but true

Strangest thing I have ever heard, locked himself inside a bag while in a bath tub?

Ok.....

What did he know or see that he shouldn't have?

Something enough to have him removed?

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Anonymous Coward

"Dark Arts"??

Right... I'm sure if the secret service had wanted to get rid of him then he wouldn't have been found in the bathtub, or indeed anywhere.

The whole way the Met Police handled this - including leaking details to the press - really needs to be investigated.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Dark Arts"??

Yup.

Dark Arts? We simply do not do that kind of stuff. No matter how much people might like to believe that we have trained assassins roaming around, we do not. People might think it old-school but the Services pride themselves on not being Mossad or KGB.

There is also much media hype about him being an SIS agent: again badly misinformed sensationalism. Agents are the (usually overseas) people the spooks _use_ to get the secret information. Staff are called Officers. In fact this guy was an officer of GCHQ, on secondment to SIS.

These people are not super human. They are normal human beings doing a difficult job. They have the same failings as everyone else and maybe one of those failings played an important part in his demise?

The lawyers for the family also need to take a long look at their own morals. Stirring up the media by using phrases like "Dark Arts", when that is completely without evidence can only be hurtful for the family.

The whole thing sounds much more like incompetent investigation than cover up. If one takes away the fact that he was a government employee, what you have is simply a case of unexplained death.

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Re: "Dark Arts"??

"People might think it old-school but the Services pride themselves on not being Mossad or KGB."

Well, we assume that there are foreign agencies "working" in the UK - for example the poisoning of Litvinenko and the recent murder of the Russian banker - so it doesn't need to be UK services doing the dirty deed. We can probably assume that those agencies do not always communicate with our services that they are "working".

"The whole thing sounds much more like incompetent investigation than cover up"

That is very possible, agreed. Be interesting to see what his field of expertise was, though.

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Anonymous Coward

"We simply do not do that kind of stuff."

I am sure the friends and family of the late Dr David Kelly will be relieved to hear that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "We simply do not do that kind of stuff."

"I am sure the friends and family of the late Dr David Kelly will be relieved to hear that."

The Hutton Inquiry established the facts of that case, but hey, you carry on believing what you wish; it's a free country after all - thanks in no small part to the likes of Gareth Williams and his colleagues.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Dark Arts"??

"Well, we assume that there are foreign agencies "working" in the UK - for example the poisoning of Litvinenko and the recent murder of the Russian banker"

It's an interesting question: Litvinenko and others were "their men" that they wished to silence, whereas Williams was {to them} one of the opposition. I doubt that foreign intelligence services would assassinate a UK intelligence officer in the UK, if only because of the political fallout it may cause. I could easily imagine that diplomatic relations would be severed if it were to be the case - there would be just too much to loose.

" Be interesting to see what his field of expertise was, though."

I believe it was maths, and given he was a GCHQ staffer, it seems likely he was engaged in cryptography. Vital, but not enough to mark your cards I would have thought.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "We simply do not do that kind of stuff."

The Hutton enquiry established the facts less ably than the original Bloody Sunday enquiry did about its subject matter. The difference is that some/many people had an axe or two to grind about that one.

The Hutton enquiry was intended to either shut people up or to discredit them. Governments do not like people having opinions about what is considered to be none of our business.

Of course "our side" does that sort of stuff. They just usually do it better.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "We simply do not do that kind of stuff."

Gareth, you and your colleagues perform a vital job that breeds natural interest but is laboured with ill-informed speculation. It's part of the job and one where you have to turn the other cheek and keep you thoughts to yourself.

However, this media hype has grown into something that is setting out to prove a negative, it is tarnishing your name and hurtful to the family.

RIP mate.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "We simply do not do that kind of stuff."

"I am sure the friends and family of the late Dr David Kelly will be relieved to hear that."

I could write a thesis analysing belief systems, but it wouldn't make them correct.

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Black Helicopters

Re: "Dark Arts"??

You forgot to add CIA to Mossad or KGB.

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David Kelly

The Hutton Inquirty did not "establish the facts of the case". The Hutton Inquirty turned the whole thing into a side-show about what Andrew Gilligan said or didn't say. The actual death of poor Dr. Kelly was a whitewash designed to hurriedly side-line any questions and move on. Before you feel all superior about not being taken in by conspiracy theories (which is the tone I get from your post), you should actually look into the issue.

The Government had the means to kill David Kelly. (Even the smallest and least sophisticated of governments has the resources and contacts to have someone killed, and the British government certainly does).

The Government had the motive to kill David Kelly. (He was threatening the legal basis for Britain going to war which would have cost Tony Blair the crucial vote and would, if they had gone to war, made it much easier to try him for war crimes along with some others).

The Government had the demonstrated willingness to kill people for the sake of the Iraq war. (Pretty much by definition, somone wanting to go to war, is willing to kill to go to war).

Why you think it absurd that David Kelly could be murdered, I have no idea. Merely faith that people willing to take courses of action leading to tens of thousands of deaths (including many of our own soldiers), would never stoop so low as to kill one more.

And incidentally, the original inquest into David Kelly's death was shut down by Number 10. David Kelly has never had a proper inquest. If you're interested, there is a long list of REPUTABLE experts who are on record as saying the death was highly suspicious or implausible as described and explained why.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: David Kelly

Why is it that some people consistently not believe the facts when presented to them?

Is is something to do with society not trusting government, or is it late 20th century media always wanting to find the conspiracy? What is it that makes people want to believe their own version of the truth?

David Kelly was _not_ murdered. Read the PM report and the toxicology reports here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/22/david-kelly-postmortem-self-inflicted.

Was Gareth Williams murdered or was it accidental death? I do not know, but talk of Dark Arts is contemptible sensationalism on the part of the lawyers and deeply hurtful to all those affected by the tragedy.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC Re: "Dark Arts"??

"Dark Arts? We simply do not do that kind of stuff. No matter how much people might like to believe that we have trained assassins roaming around, we do not"

I thought the usual M.O. was to call in the SAS and disguise them as Armed Police Officers?

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't it obvious

murdered somewhere else, put in a bag by the "Cleaners", delivered back to his home, where they were just about to set up a staged death and got disturbed with the poor lad left in the bag in the bath. No forensics as he was wasn't killed there. Isn't this death by chocolate level 1 basic spook tactics or have we not been watching the same secret squirrel ?

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mt1

Re: Isn't it obvious

Totally didnt think of this and yes it would explain the lack of crime scene at the flat and the bag

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Black Helicopters

Re: Isn't it obvious

If we're going for conspiracy theories then I'd suggest he was placed in the bag to aid rapid decomposition of the body obsfucating the events around his death. The bag was then placed in the bath to stop the decomposing body leaking through the floor into neighbouring apartments. This would have extended the length of time the body went undiscovered aiding the decomposition.

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FAIL

Re: Re: Isn't it obvious

Right, just for the conspiracy nutters.

If he was put in the bag to keep the flat "clean", then it would have been a bag better suited to the task, i.e., a leakproof one, or he would have been put in a plastic bag inside the carryall. No need to put him in the bath then. And if they had been disturbed, how come the body wasn't found before it decomposed? They would simply come back and tidy up later, long before the body had had a chance to decompose. The idea they would be scared off is fanciful to say the least. A professional team would have a cover to explain their presence in the flat anyway. That theory is simply laughable.

And that's besides the point as to why on Earth would they let the body be found anyway? This is the SIS, if they wanted to make somone disappear they can fake UK phone calls complete with billing record entries, flight ticket purchases, basically anything they need to make up a convincing disappearance. They wouldn't simply leave a body in the bath.

And then we have the complete lack of motive - why woudl the SIS need to kill him in the first place?

It is much more likely that the victim simply got on the wrong side of someone, maybe an intruder, that convinced him it was for his own good that he got in the bag. The pictures of the victim I've seen don't look like someone that could hold their own in a scrap with my wife, let alone a serious thug. Maybe he thought he was safer getting in the bag than fighting it out. Maybe the killer didn't intend him to die, maybe they thought someone would come along and free him. Bungled theft turns into unintended murder.

This desire to believe in a big, devious, secret-service boogeyman, that is omnipotent but then somehow makes amateurish mistakes, and all without an actual motive in the first place, is simply amusing.

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What really happened

"Sit down, 007"

"Thank you, shir. What have you got for me thish time?"

"It's young Williams, 007. I'm afraid his erratic behaviour has made him a security risk. You must terminate him."

"I shee. Shall I use the shecret poison 'Q' has given me? Tashteless and odourlessh, and completely undetectable."

"Not this time, 007."

"Sho, are we going to place a shuicide note on his laptop and push him under a train?"

"No 007, that's far too obvious. You're going to strangle him and then zip his body into a sports bag and then lock it."

"My God, what cunning. With thish shtrategy, no-one will ever shushpect foul play."

"Carry on, 007."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What really happened

Very nice. Later on at the Police station talk of the case being `in the bag` as apposed to being a "open and shut case" were high up there on the canteen menu.

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Gimp

Make him look like a perv

Smear his reputation to provide plausible background to a bizarre death. Use his network connections to visit some dodgy sites online in the period before his death, and then stage his demise in the same manner.

Public interest/concern weakened, easier to sweep away the death of someone serving his country without too many questions being asked.

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Silver badge

Re: Make him look like a perv

Given his job and his clearance level, and being a 'new boy' at MI6, it does seem very strange that he would knowingly use his home internet connection to visit sites that could be regarded as even remotely 'dodgy'. Also, it seems strange that the police would release that information at such an early stage in the enquiry, unless they also linked it to an appeal to members of the 'dodgy' community to come forward with any information.

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mt1

hmm

Who know how he got into that situation but the very strange part is the totally clean/srubed appearance of his flat

If this had been some bizzaire sex game gone wrong i doubt it would be this clean unless the 'other' people where part of the same "dark arts" whatever that is

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Silver badge

The answer is obvious

He's an escapologist. Just not a very good one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The answer is obvious

People only think that because he looked like a magician.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHQxkuQfYgw

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Dark Arts?

Spooks is fiction, and unrealistic fiction. Williams was a keen cyclist. If anyone wanted him dead (which I don't believe for a minute), why not a hit and run "accident"?

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Boffin

Re: Dark Arts?

http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/adviceandinformation/cycling/facts-figures.aspx

82+ adults per year or so on push bikes getting killed (111 recorded but 'one fifth' children).

"Most cycling accidents happen in urban areas where most cycling takes place. Almost two thirds of cyclists killed or seriously injured were involved in collisions at, or near, a road junction, with T junctions being the most commonly involved. Roundabouts are particularly dangerous junctions for cyclists. Not surprisingly, the severity of injuries suffered by cyclists increases with the speed limit, meaning that riders are more likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries on higher speed roads."

There is your setup. Roundabout where you get people speeding a bit.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dark Arts?

There is no way to guarantee a death in a road traffic accident.

Add to that the almost incalculable uncertainty due to dozens of possible random events like an unexpected police car witnessing the crime and catching the murderers.

I am just a layman and even I can see that trying to kill someone in a RTA is idiotic.

The best way is surely in a confined and controlled environment with little chance of escape and witnesses where the victim is either outnumbered and easily overpowered, less well armed or preferably both.

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In a town or city, agreed.

But as he was a cycling enthusiast, I expect her rode in the country often. Follow him in a 4x4 and wait for a chance to hit him with no witnesses.

As I said, I don't think it an assassination, but don't see a staged hit and run impossible to arrange.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dark Arts?

Get him to shoot himself in the back of his head a couple of times.

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Re: In a town or city, agreed.

Missed the bit about being impossible to guarantee a fatality, though, which as an EMT and firefighter I wholly agree with. Unless you hit him and then back up over his head/neck a few times, which might look... suspicious. Failing that, after he recovers from being knocked over by a mysterious disappearing 4x4 any subsequent attempt to finish the job is going to look ... suspicious.

So yeah, just not a viable way of getting rid of someone cleanly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In a town or city, agreed.

What if he jumped off the bike at the last second and legged it through a field? Are they then going to chase him and mow him down on someone's farm?

The tracks their 4x4 would make might also look suspicious unless he decided to run in a particularly geometric pattern, in which case you could always blame it on aliens.

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Anonymous Coward

It's my guess there are three types of assassination.

As such I don't for a second believe that we murdered him.

Had we done so, we would have simply hit him while cycling with a caravan and a landcruiser, driven by some old grandad, and the whole thing would be an accident.

To suggest our government would deliberately make it obvious he was murdered, just so it would encourage the tin foil hat brigade is ridiculous.

My guess is that the Tories started this story for the same reason they provoked petrol panic buying, because they got caught taking money for access.

If he was murdered, and from reading the newspaper it looks very much like it, my guess is that it was down to some johnny foreigner sending a message. I reckon someone knows who did it, already, but it's not in the national interest to disclose it.

Never knew the guy, and in fact don't know anyone in that sphere, but I'm sure he must have been on the side of us brits, so RIP anyway.

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Silver badge

Re: It's my guess there are three types of assassination.

Would you care to list the types, since you seem to be aware of the subject ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's my guess there are three types of assassination.

I did say "I guess"

The three I was thinking of were...

The murder where everyone thinks its an accident or sudden death or suicide, such as that of Robin Cook or Alan Turing. (I'm only joking there, as that's the point. I just picked people who died of suicide or natural causes.)

The murder where it's deliberate and extremely violent and public, such as the attack that resulted in the retaliation that was Oradour Sur Glane, or the many attacks by resistance fighters, usually against Herod types in the hopes their replacement will be too scared to treat the local populace badly.

Finally, there's the murder where it's obviously a murder but it is denied, such as David Kelly, Georgi Markov, etc, to terrify other people in the same boat into shutting up.

I'm sure there's more scenarios, but I did say, "I guess."

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Boffin

Re: It's my guess there are three types of assassin.

1. Them.

2. Not us.

3. Off duty SAS team.

I wonder where I can get a couple of gallons of blood so I can test how quickly it disappears from animal agents in a forest clearing.

Odd that no you Tube Videos of that experiment have been posted. Or were they all disappeared by the UK's Mossad from Hereford?

Scene: Coppice, season: summer: time scale: bloody obvious public place.

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Holmes

So...

Did that forensic scientist's DNA get there post-mortem, or pre-mortem?

Or post-mortem, but pre-discovery?

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Black Helicopters

message in a bottle

If it's a murder, it clearly was designed to be a message. Without context it's not clear which message that could be but I'm sure someone must have gotten it.

An elaborate suicide, thrill seeking or fetish sex game cannot be entirely excluded. Perhaps there's an amazing thrill involved in trying to get out of the bag before the water gets too high? The mind of a mathematical genius works in mysterious ways and has needs too.

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Silver badge

"experts in the dark arts"

Looks like a job for Mad-Eye Moody and his Aurors, then.

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Anonymous Coward

Piglet

They should have sent for Piglet: he'd soon have sorted it out.

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Anonymous Coward

RIP Gareth Wyn Williams

RIP Gareth Wyn Williams

Met you in Scouts and I remeber you at Ysgol Morswyn. Oddly enough I was thinking about you following mention of Alan Turing's maths ability, just a few weeks before your death and remember you being like a walking calculator and being a modern day Alan Turing!

But I'm not implying Gareth was gay, simply that he had a striking similar ability at Maths.

Even I am puzzled how you ended up in locked bag in a bath, I hope whoever caused your death ends up in court.

Rest in Peace / gorffwys mewn heddwch

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Anonymous Coward

Re: RIP Gareth Wyn Williams

I forgot to mention best wishes to your dad, Ian, Mam and Sister, just in case they find this website.

X

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Bronze badge

How much incompetence?

Presumably the authorities actually took some interest in this case, yet the investigation was still an almighty cock-up.

God alone knows how bad the sleuthing will be if an ordinary person is murdered.

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Angel

Well, if an ordinary person is murdered, usually their significant other is close by with the bloody knife still in their hands and sobbing: I'm so sorry.

That's how most murders get solved you know.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What really happened

"I shee. Shall I use the shecret poison 'Q' has given me? Tashteless and odourlessh, and completely undetectable."

Injected into the side of the external auditory canal - almost impossible to detect at autopsy unless you know what you are looking for.

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Anonymous Coward

Locked inside a Sports Bag?

Was this guy a midget, or a contortionist, or are there some very big sports bags, out there?

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Bronze badge

Re: Locked inside a Sports Bag?

Yes there are some very big sports bags indeed out there. I have a kit bag into which I could easily fit, and I'm far from being described as slight.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Locked inside a Sports Bag?

I have to confess I hadn't seen Gareth for some years, I do remember his Dad was tall IMO, and there are lots of photos of him as he was a member of a cycling club in Holyhead, he seems pretty tall on the photos I've seen of him on racing bikes.

He was a seriously clever, a male version of Karen Vorderman when it came to Maths, but he had a seriously big Welsh accent, and he would be well aware of any logging of bondage websites, after all he did work for GCHQ and SIS.

Disapointing that nobody has been linked to his death :-( and that he wasn't discovered sooner

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Anonymous Coward

Operation Incredulious

It's incredulious that such DNA contamination could escape notice, as it is standard procedure for all police attending a crime scene to have their own DNA and fingerprints cross-referenced to prevent such an occurence. Besides what ever happened to the "mediteranean couple" and the mobile phone and sim cards that were said to have been found at the scene. It's also beyond credulity that MI6 would call the police when one of their top code breaker spies goes missing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Operation Incredulious

Are you sure? It certainly used to be the case that the Police refused to allow their officers DNA to be loaded into the National DNA Database as normal samples (i,e, would be included in any normal matching process).... read into that what ever you will.

Anon for very obvious reasons.

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