6:00pm Monday 23rd April 2012
© Press Association 2013
An MI6 spy found dead in a sports bag had been unhappy living in London and complained about "friction" at the intelligence agency, an inquest has heard.
Gareth Williams, 31, of Anglesey, North Wales, hated the post-work drinking culture and "flash car competitions" at the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), his sister said.
He was due to move back to the West Country a week after his naked body was discovered padlocked inside a holdall in the bath of his flat in Pimlico, central London, on August 23 2010.
The inquest into Mr Williams's mysterious death began with evidence that Scotland Yard murder detectives were not able to speak to his MI6 colleagues directly. Instead specialist officers from the Metropolitan Police's SO15 counter-terrorism command had to carry out the interviews and produce anonymised statements.
Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell, from the Met's homicide and serious crime command, said police were not shown any internal inquiry by SIS into what happened to the brilliant codebreaker. But he stressed that MI6 co-operated fully with Scotland Yard, adding that he was not aware of MI5, MI6 or SO15 carrying out their own independent investigations into Mr Williams's death.
The spy's sister, Ceri Subbe, told the inquest her brother was excited when he began what was supposed to be a three-year secondment to MI6 from GCHQ, the Government listening station based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
But he missed the countryside and became disillusioned with the atmosphere at MI6's Vauxhall Cross headquarters in London. "He even spoke of friction in the office," Mrs Subbe said, adding: "The job was not quite what he expected. He encountered more red tape than he was comfortable with."
In April 2010 he applied to return to GCHQ earlier than planned. MI6 "dragged their feet" in approving his request but eventually agreed he could go back to Cheltenham on September 1 2010.
Mr Williams failed to turn up for a meeting at MI6 on August 16 2010, the inquest heard. Mrs Subbe said she discussed her brother's absence with one of his colleagues. She said: "He is very conscientious. The person I spoke to agreed, and said Gareth was like a Swiss clock - very punctual, very efficient, and it was very unlike him not to attend a meeting."
Paying tribute, she said he was "perfect" as a "big brother figure", adding: "It's impossible to do justice to Gareth's impressive character without meeting him." She told the inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court she did not believe Mr Williams would let a potential killer in his upmarket London flat, adding: "I cannot emphasise enough his conscientiousness".
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