Gareth Williams

From Wikispooks
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Wikispooks-logo-outdated.png Wikispooks-logo-unclear.png  This page has some useful material but is out of date and poorly structured. Editors are wanted to update it

Person.png Gareth Williams   ISGPRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, cryptographer)
Born26 September 1978
Died16 August 2010 (Age 31)
Victim ofpremature death
A brilliant cryptologist who worked for GCHQ and was unexpected found dead, naked, locked in a sports bag in "a fluid" in his bath. "Probably an accident".


Dates unknown

Not to be confused with the Bilderberger Gareth Williams, Baron Williams of Mostyn.

Gareth Williams was a 31 year old codes and ciphers expert on secondment from GCHQ to MI6 when he was found dead, naked and padlocked in a sports holdall submerged in "a fluid" in the bath of his 3rd floor flat at 36, Alderney Street, Pimlico, London Map on the afternoon of 23 August 2010. He had last been seen alive in London on 15 August 2010. He probably met his death sometime between that last sighting and the following morning, 16 August 2013, when he failed to return to work. Police reported that the body "was in an advanced state of decay" when found and this made establishing the cause of death problematical, which is another indication that his death occurred soon after his last sighting. In August 2015, the The Sun claimed that he had hacked into US computers to gather data on Bill Clinton.[1]

Official Narrative

A definitive official narrative never really emerged. In deference perhaps to the unusual circumstances of the case, the original line was that it was "highly likely" a third party was involved, but without a lot of new evidence emerging, this had changed by 2012 to "probably locked himself into sports bag".[2][3] In November 2013, Scotland Yard announced that his death was "probably an accident".[4] The official narrative is clear that however caused, his death was unconnected to his line of work.


Williams was an employee of GCHQ, Cheltenham. It is reported that, at the time of his death, he was nearing the end of a six month secondment to MI6 whose HQ is about a mile away from his London flat on the opposite side of the Thames. Williams is reported to have been a 'mathematical genius' and a key (though relatively junior) member of GCHQ staff working in the field of cryptography as it applies to the Signals and communications intelligence functions of GCHQ. He is reported to have been a regular visitor to NSA establishments at Fort Meade, Maryland and to have been a recent visitor to military intelligence establishments in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The Alderney Street Flat

36 Alderney St Pimlico - 23 August 2010
36 Aldernet St, Top (3rd) floor

The letting agents for the Alderney Street flat, Messrs WA Ellis of Knightsbridge, are quoted as follows in the Daily Mail:

36 Alderney Street is owned by a private company, New Rodina. ‘There has been speculation that it is linked to MI6 or that it is a front for MI6. Our clients do not have any links to MI6 whatsoever and are distressed by the death of Mr Williams.’ [5]

Since New Rodina is an off-shore company based in the British Virgin Islands, determining its directors or controllers is no easy matter. However, properties owned by New Rodina have been used in the past as "Safe Houses" provided by agencies of the British Government for people deemed in need of anonymity. Salman Rushdie is perhaps the best known example. It is also interesting to note that "Rodina" is both a Russian and Bulgarian word meaning "Motherland" and that "The Rodina Society" was used as a cover operation for KGB activity in the West during the Cold War. At the very least therefore, the name "New Rodina" will resonate with MI6 - and the possibility that "resonate" is a serious understatement should not be ruled out. Research into associations between past events involving the SIS's and use of the word "Rodina" is clearly needed.

Commercially-controlled media Speculation

The British commercially-controlled media has indulged itself in predictable speculations (some no doubt planted) surrounding the unexplained death of a so-called 'spy'. They have variously alleged that:

  • His mobile phone simcards were arranged in a "bizarre ritualistic manner" [6]
  • There were Escort Agency telephone numbers on one phone SIM card and pornographic material on another. [6]
  • He was gay and may have attracted the unwelcome attentions of a jealous aspiring partner [7]
  • "Bondage equipment was found at his flat. [8]

The UK police have matter-of-factly stamped on most of this stuff. Although they seem happy to allow, and even encourage continuing speculation.[9]

On 7 September 2010 the police appealed for information about a couple "of Mediterranean appearance" - with all the strange connotations the expression carries - who were allegedly captured on CCTV "one or two months before Mr Williams died" [10].


Red Extra-large "North Face" holdall in which the body was found

The following speculations rest on one over-riding assumption. It is that the real reason for Gareth William's murder are known to MI6 and are being deliberately obscured. That assumption in turn rests on substantial evidence of a so-called 'turf-war' between the Metropolitan Police charged by statute with the investigation of a capital crime, and the 'Security Services' who are reported as being 'less than helpful' to the investigation. That together with lurid speculation in the commercially-controlled media and variously attributed to 'sources close the inquiry', 'senior intelligence sources' and other such journalistic euphemisms. The waters are being well-and-truly muddied by people well placed to undertake the muddying.

The Manhattan 11 connection

The murder is connected with the recent "Manhattan 11" Russian Espionage fiasco in which 11 alleged Russian "Deep-Cover" sleeper spies were arrested, charged [11] and subsequently exchanged for 4 alleged US spies held in Russia [12]

MURDERED spook Gareth Williams could have helped to nail Russian spy beauty Anna Chapman. Detectives are looking into claims the MI6 code breaker was in the US when ­Chapman was uncovered in June.... However, investigators are meeting “resistance” from US and UK intelligence agencies..... a high-level source told the Daily Star ­Sunday: “Mr Williams’ work in America is forming part of the inquiry.

“We need to know what he was working on during his ­visits there. MI6 and CIA code crackers played a vital part in outing Chapman and the ­Russian spy ring." [13]

Further indications of a possible Russian connection are provided by the name of the company that owns Williams' flat - see The Alderney Street Flat above

Update - 5 October 2010

Two linked articles by Trowbridge Ford provide in-depth analysis of the NSA and its relationship with its UK equivalent GCHQ, MI6 and related US Agencies. [14] [15] They lead to a plausible explanation for Gareth Williams' demise together with its manner and timing. The history of the NSA is fairly well known, especially through the writings of James Bamford. But, as is always the case where the workings of Spook agencies are concerned, the nuggets of genuinely embarrassing information that such persistent and well-connected individuals provide, tend to be more than balanced by the disinformation they are fed on a semi-privileged basis. Reporting 'US Officials', Bamford poo-poo's the notion that Williams' death might be connected in any way with his status as a spook [16] which is another good reason to suspect the opposite

The biggest issue facing NSA operations over the past 10 years has undoubtedly been the extent of its allowable (ie legal) internal surveillance operations. US Law and the US Constitution place irritating and (to the NSA top brass) 'mission-inhibiting' obstacles in its path - and so, as is the way with SIS's the world over, they tend to be simply ignored. But ignoring them also carries big risks.

It seems that the outing of the so-called Manhattan 11 'spy-ring' involved prolonged and extensive unauthorised surveillance by the NSA which, because of its need for the cryptanalysis skills on which the NSA and GCHQ were/are collaborating, Gareth Williams was aware of - at least at the technical level. The timings involved together with publicly available evidence to date, point to the following possible scenario:

  • The 'Mediterranean couple' who visited his flat were connected to Anna Chapman - possibly her ex-husband and former roommate Lena Savitskaya who knew about the MI6 flat from earlier recruitment overtures to Anna Chapman that apparently took place there. Their purpose was to sound out its presumed MI6 connected occupant, about exposing the illegal NSA surveillance activity that led to Anna Chapman's loss of UK citizenship and her being deported to Russia.
  • Williams was intrigued. He should have reported the encounter to superiors but didn't - although the premises being what it is, they probably monitored it anyway.
  • Williams returned to the US in July and asked questions which marked him as particularly dangerous since, as a UK citizen, he was not subject to the onerous secrecy laws covering US agents in possession of similar information. He could not be silenced in the manner, for example, that Thomas Drake was in process of being silenced during Williams' Fort Meade visits.
  • Williams also spoke of his concerns to a GCHQ colleague and her husband who were at Fort Meade as part of the same NSA/GCHQ cooperation. This led to MI6/NSA moving them to Denver on a different mission so as to remove them from knowledge of further developments - an action that reinforces the probability that MI6 already knew of the unreported encounter at the London flat.
  • For whatever additional reasons - or none - Williams' attitude, demeanour , questioning, knowledge, insider status and non-US citizen status were cumulatively judged a risk to the NSA that could not be tolerated.
  • A poison of the variety 'amanita phalloides' (or a more potent high-tec equivalent from the US Weaponisation of Mico-toxins program) was somehow administered on or about 10th August, just prior to his final return to the UK.
  • Williams realised he had been poisoned a few days later as the effects began to accumulate. He spent some £90 at Harrods - most of it on medication at the pharmacy and NOT on women's toiletries as leaked to the press. His pallor in the Holland Park video stills from 15 August are of a man in a very jaundiced and sickly condition [17]
  • On the evening of 15 August MI6 operatives visited the flat and found Williams either dead or nearly so. He was padlocked into the holdall, the flat cleaned up, all the medicines removed (though the Harrods receipt was somehow missed) and things arranged for the police to find when asked to check on Williams 'non-contact'. They let themselves out, locking the door after them.

For the two weeks to 5 October 2010 the silence has been deafening.

A Mossad / Israeli False flag connection

The rationale here goes like this:

There is one over riding, non-negotiable requirement for the success of Israel's foreign policy goals. It is that the growing regional power and alleged nuclear weapons ambitions of Iran be neutralised. Israeli cannot accomplish this on its own and judges sanctions to be a waste of time. Israel SIS's judge that the best way to provoke the US into a military attack would be for it to suffer a major terrorist attack by Iran. This speculation holds that Israel was/is at an advanced planning and logistical stage of ensuring that just such an attack occurs and is blamed on Iran. And that Gareth Williams, because of his deep involvement and knowledge of UKUSA / Israeli SIGINT / NSA operations handled, or otherwise came across, evidence of the planned operation and voiced his concerns to the wrong people.

Evidence for this speculation is that the way in which the body was left would greatly inhibit the spread of the smell of decay or of body fluids leaking through the floor and thus delay discovery sufficient for the perpetrators to be well clear of the country with little or no CCTV evidence still extant. It is also consistent with police appeals for information about a couple "of Mediterranean appearance" caught on what CCTV there is (or rather has been revealed) of the weeks before the body was discovered. [10] Williams is also reported to have been a regular visitor to the NSA HQ at Fort Meade Maryland and these reports are now subject to obfuscation and water muddying. He was also on secondment to MI6. He was thus at the hub of the technical and operational agencies charged with finding out and dealing with such possibilities - the purposes to which such 'finding-out' is put, remaining moot.

A Hamid Karzai 'Special Operation' connection

Pure speculation this one - lateral thinking you might say.

Hamid Karzai (President of Afghanistan) was something of an embarrassment and a liability to US objectives in Afghanistan. Great hopes were vested in his being ousted in the Autumn 2009 'elections', the last chance to do so before foreign forces withdrew. But despite the elections being reported by independent observers as little better than a sham, Karzai easily held on to power. Gareth Williams visited 'Intelligence facilities' in Kabul in the weeks before his death[8] and it is speculated that he became privy to a Special Forces operation to eliminate Karzai. (As it is speculated that Pat Tillman was murdered in Afghanistan for knowing too much, in his case perhaps about drugs)[citation needed]. For whatever reason, the operation failed or had to be aborted - or maybe it is still on the stocks. Williams knowledge was dangerous and he voiced the wrong kind of concerns - or worse - to the wrong people.

International Banking security connection

This is based entirely on a Telegraph report attributed to "Sources" and "a British Intelligence Officer". So, all the caveats concerning spook routine use and manipulation of the MSM apply in spades. According to ''the Telegraph'':

“Sources have told this newspaper that Britain's intelligence services – MI6, MI5 and GCHQ – are liaising closely to establish whether Gareth Williams was targeted by a foreign power. The 31-year-old was seconded from GCHQ to work on top-secret systems to defend British banks and transport infrastructure from cyber attack and to eavesdrop on terrorist communications. As a result he may have come to the attention of foreign intelligence agencies... It is feared that by the time of his death last month Mr Williams's presence in London had become known to foreign spies, despite the fact he was living in a MI6 safe house with an alarm system linking him to nearby MI6 headquarters. "It would have been part of their brief", said a British intelligence officer... It is understood Mr Williams's job at the time of his death was creating computer defences in the City of London. Williams would have had access to information which other countries would want to obtain. The intelligence source said: "His job was to defend the banking system on which Britain's banking, commerce and all our public services depend. It was the kind of work that would have made him prime target for recruitment... "He was also in a position to know about huge money transfers out of the Middle East which were linked to terror groups. It would be priceless data.”
Patrick Sawer,  Gordon Thomas (11 Sep 2010)  [18]

Williams' involvement in Afghanistan SIGINT work are also repeated in this article, as are his frequent visits to The USA.

Gudrun Loftus connection

That there is a connection between the death of Gareth William and the apparently accidental death of Gudrun Loftus, the Oxford University Lecturer found fatally injured in a university stairwell on 5th October 2010. [19] The reasoning behind this is complex but plausible and is explored in detail in two articles by Trowbridge Ford:

A private sector commercial connection

  • A Mirror News article reports a Miss Elizabeth Guthrie, daughter of a US Stock Broker alleging that Williams was about to resign his GCHQ/MI6 post to pursue a 'business venture' with her and another "agent" and that he had expressed concern about being followed immediately before his death.
  • GCHQ worries about losing talented spies to the private sector

Inquest into the death

Dr Fiona Wilcox, the Westminster coroner, scheduled a pre-inquest review for 29 March 2012.[20]

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, signed a Public-interest immunity certificate authorising the withholding from the inquest of details of Williams's work and U.S. joint operations.[21][22]

The Williams family lawyer, Anthony O’Toole, was banned from grilling an MI6 agent during this inquest. He stated "I was not allowed by the coroner to say to the spook, 'You know how to get into the flats without keys, don’t you?' I was told it was contrary to national security." Suggesting that spies removed crucial evidence before police found the body, O’Toole added "My suggestion is that the dark arts were involved and there was a curious lack of evidence in there, almost like it had been swept clean."[23]

Inquest verdict

The Westminster Coroner's inquest concluded that "she could not rule out the involvement of the security services in the death", which sparked a review of the case by Scotland Yard’s murder squad. This 7 month process which involved re-interviewing his colleagues from MI6 and taking DNA samples concluded in December 2012 that Gareth Williams "probably locked himself into the sports bag".[3]

Metropolitan Police's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt said that he had no explanation for why none of Mr Williams’ DNA was found on the padlock of the holdall, why his palm prints were not on the rim of the bath or why the heating had been left on in the flat despite it being summer. He nevertheless termed it "beyond credibility" that MI6 or GCHQ had destroyed evidence.[23]

CCM coverage and Information Archive

There is a useful archive of information Compiled by "Winter Patriot":

Representative CCM Coverage

Cover-up story as at 2nd Dec 2010 from the BBC

  • Dead MI6 spy Gareth Williams 'visited bondage websites' BBC, 2 Dec 2010 "Gareth Williams, 31 ... also visited a drag show and owned £15,000 worth of women's designer clothing ... "someone else was in the flat" ... "If he was alive, he got into it voluntarily or, if not, he was unconscious and placed in the bag" ... an expert, brought in to examine the red holdall in which Mr Williams was found, concluded he could not have locked it ... The keys were found inside the bag ... She said experts had said the temperature inside the bag would have risen to 30C (80F) within three minutes and he would have suffocated inside half-an-hour.

2015 developments

In September and October 2015, Boris Karpichkov, a former KGB agent who defected from Russia and who now lives in Britain, stated during interviews that "sources in Russia" have claimed that the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, also known as the SVR, was responsible for the murder. According to Karpichkov, the SVR tried and failed to blackmail Williams into becoming a double agent.[24]

In response to the SVR's attempts, Williams apparently claimed that he knew "the identity of a Russian spy inside the GCHQ." Karpichkov claimed that Williams's threat meant that "the SVR then had no alternative but to exterminate him in order to protect their agent inside GCHQ." Regarding the cause of death, Karpichkov claimed that the SVR killed Williams "by an untraceable poison introduced in his ear."[25][26]

External Links


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:A Gareth Wiliams - Gudrun Loftus Axis?article8 November 2010Trowbridge FordIs there a connection between the death of Gareth Williams and the apparently accidental death of Oxford University academic Gudrun Loftus?
Document:NSA GCHQ and the Death of Gareth Williamsarticle14 November 2011Trowbridge FordA speculative article connecting the NSA with the death of Gareth Williams


  3. a b
  5. Was body of MI6 spy submerged in mystery fluid to speed up decay? Daily Mail 5 September 2010. This article also contains the Flat letting agent quotes about "New Rodina"
  6. a b Did spy's killer steal state secrets? - Daily Mail 26 August 2010
  7. Parents of murdered British spy hit back at 'government's gay smear' campaign to discredit him - Daily Mail 27 August 2010
  8. a b Bondage claims over dead MI6 officer untrue, say police - The Guardian 29 August 2010
  9. Detectives believes dead MI6 spy may have zipped HIMSELF in bag in bizarre sex game that went wrong Mail Online 12 September 2010
  10. a b Police hunt for Mediterranean couple - The Telegraph 6 September 2010
  11. US-Russia spy swap under way after deep-cover agents admit guilt Independent 9 July 2010
  12. Red-headed femme fatale among 11 'Russian deep cover agents' accused of Cold War-style plot to spy on America - Mail Online 29 June 2010
  13. DEAD SPY GARETH WILLIAMS LINKED TO RED ANNA - Sunday Star 9 September 2010
  14. The killing of Gareth Williams - part 1. Trowbridge Ford - Codshit blog 27 September 2010
  15. The killing of Gareth Williams - part 2. Trowbridge Ford - Codshit blog 4 October 2010
  16. U.S. officials: Gareth Williams death not spy-related
  17. Was it Poison - Daily Mail 7 September 2010
  18. the Telegraph Concern grows over foreign involvement in spy's death
  19. Tragic death of German tutor at St John's College
  20. Light to be shed on mystery of MI6 spy Gareth Williams' death Telegraph 28 January 2012
  23. a b
  25. Barbara Tasch (28 September 2015) KGB defector: Russia killed the British spy found in a duffel bag, Business Insider.
  26. Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith (28 September 2015) MI6 spy Gareth Williams was ‘killed by Russia for refusing to become double agent’, former KGB man claims, The Independent.