Those of you who have been following the Gareth Williams inquest will know that the coroner gave her 'narrative verdict' this week. Given all the problems and the extensive attempts at cover up, I think she did very well. None of us know exactly how he died (not yet, anyway) and many a lesser coroner might have backed away from some of the reasoned conclusions she drew. (And have done so in the past!)
Because it took so long for the body to be found, much vital evidence had been degraded or lost. There is little doubt in my mind, that whoever placed Gareth Williams body in the bag, knew exactly what they were doing. The combination of the confined space, warm weather and delay in finding the body all worked in their favour. Had he been shot, had his kneck broken or other physical damage, this would not have helped. But that was not the case. Whoever put the body in the bag and then placed it in the bath (where any bodily fluid leaks would be contained or drain away) knew exactly what they were doing.
So who does that suggest? Ruling out avid fans of Patricia Cornwell books, that narrows the field down quite dramatically. Forensic scientists, crazed doctors - or what about security services operatives? From a 'foreign' power? - usually first choice. One of his own? - possible. (You may recall I suggested this in a previous posting and was interested to see that this week the coroner raised it as a possibility). But why would his own people kill him? It would either be related to his work - therefore, officially sanctioned - or to something he had discovered about another colleague's private life. In this second scenario, the killing would have been professionally carried out, but for personal reasons.
Apparently, Gareth Williams was working in a small unit/office at MI6. These are the people who failed to flag up that he was missing for a week! If I was a senior police investigating officer, I would be particularly interested in ruling these people out of my investigation. But therein lies a problem. The police do not have the same rights and jurisdiction that they would have in an ordinary investigation. Basically, MI6 have the power to say what they can or cannot do. So that puts the police into a virtual lose-lose situation.
I can give you an illustration of how this works with a real story. A colleague (who worked for the British security services) was returning home one evening on a late train from London. He was due in London next day for more meetings, but had decided that he would like the night back in his family home. As he was leaving the deserted station platform, he was accosted by three men, who began to threaten him. He quickly dealt with all three of them and two ended up in hospital.
He was duly arrested and taken to the city centre police station. Given what had transpired (despite the rights and wrongs of the situation) the police should have charged him and left it to the courts to decide. He spent the best part of six hours in a police cell, until a telephone call came through (via the county Chief Constable) instructing that he be released. It being too late to go home, he caught the early train back to London and as far as the police were concerned, the matter just went away!