Session 7. Thursday Morning, April 26, 2012

SESSION 7. Thursday Morning, April 26, 2012
8:37@skynewsgathererBack to inquest with @skymartinbrunt and @Stone_SkyNews. Expect to hear from more SIS staff
8:42@skymartinbruntUnexplained delay at start of today's hearing
8:42@skynewsgathererDelay to start of Gareth Williams inquest. Media not allowed into the annexe
8:47@skymartinbruntHearing about to start. Screens up to hide spook witnesses we are not allowed to identify
8:49@skynewsgathererAllowed back into the media room. Blue screens still up in court to protect identity of next witness called SIS F
8:52@skymartinbruntFirst witness is MI6 woman officer known as 'F'
8:52@skynewsgathererSIS F had no contact with Gareth - but is here to represent secret service, inquest told
8:53@skynewsgathererWitness says SIS first became aware of Gareth's death on evening of 23rd
8:54@skymartinbruntShe never met Gareth but knows all about him from MI6 files
8:55@skymartinbruntshe says no MI6 officers went into his flat before or after body discoverd. Nor did counter terror cops or other agencies
8:55@skynewsgathererWitness says no MI6 officers went into the flat before or after the discovery of Gareth's body
8:57@skymartinbruntNo evidence spooks involved in cover up of his death
8:58@stone_skynewsThe Gareth Williams inquest now hearing from witness known only as SIS F, out of sight behind screen. The female is MI6 Intelligence officer
8:59@skymartinbruntGareth originally rejected in bid to move on secondment to MI6. Later successful
8:59@stone_skynewsSIS F had never met Gareth Williams. She is here to provide more information about his professional life. Perhaps more info on what he did?
9:01@stone_skynewsSIS F says she has "no knowledge" of any cover-up by MI6 & that a cover-up would be outside MI6 remit anyway. Gareth Williams
9:01@skymartinbruntGareth was highly skilled with an able technical brain
9:04@skymartinbruntZero risk to him from contact with MI6 recruited agents. His work did not require him to dress in women's clothing says witness
9:04@stone_skynewsSIS F says Gareth Williams work did not involve him having to dress in women's clothing. (£20,000 of women's clothes found at flat)
9:11@skynewsgathererMI6 witnesses telling inquest about courses and training Gareth received
9:12@skynewsgathererGareth had failed a course on operational deployment because 'he didn't reach the standards required'
9:12@skynewsgathererGareth then retook the course and passed. Tutor had said his improvement had been 'immense'
9:13@skynewsgathererGareth only worked operationally in the UK. He had never travelled to Russia or Afghanistan as suggested in media
9:14@stone_skynewsSIS F says that media reports suggesting that Gareth Williams had been to Afghanistan & Russia are wrong. He had never been to either
9:16@skynewsgathererGareth was carrying out work with low level of risk, says MI6 witness. He was not trained or experienced enough to work overseas
9:20@skymartinbruntQuite rare for GCHQ staff to leave MI6 secondment early
9:22@skymartinbruntMI6 very satisfied with Gareth's work
9:22@stone_skynewsThe inquest is hearing about Gareth Williams professional life now, but the crux of the whole case remains whether he could have locked himself in the bag
9:22@stone_skynewsThe cop in charge of the investigation - which remains open - says the key question is could Gareth Williams have locked himself into the holdall
9:22@skynewsgathererWitness describes Gareth as a fully deployable highly talented officer. No evidence he had been pulled off job
9:22@skynewsgathererQuestions now turn to where Gareth was living
9:23@skynewsgathererThe flat was let through a GCHQ approved letting agency. It was not a 'safe house' says witness
9:23@skymartinbruntHis flat was not MI6 safe house says witness
9:24@stone_skynewsCoroner asks SIS F if Gareth Williams flat in Pimlico was a 'safe house' as some speculation has suggested. "It was not" says SIS F
9:25@skymartinbruntHe made very substantial contribution to MI6 work
9:26@skynewsgathererGareth was a very pleasant individual, but intensely private and not someone who workmates would socialise with, says witness
9:28@skymartinbruntMI6 colleagues found him good colleague but intensely private and didn't socialise with them even in shared interests
9:29@skymartinbruntNo concerns over his vetting. He was considered low risk
9:32@skymartinbruntCoroner asks if MI6 staff should report contact with anyone from Kurdistan. Witness said she couldn't answer that
9:33@skynewsgathererWitness now explaining vetting process. Gareth raised no issues prior to his death
9:34@stone_skynewsHints again of restrictions to Gareth Williams inquest. SIS F hesitates before answering question about countries which could be threat to UK
9:34@skynewsgathererMI6 officer says Gareth had no requirement to tell SIS about his interest in clothes or his design course
9:35@skynewsgathererWitness says she can't answer whether Gareth should have told SIS if he had contact with someone from Kurdistan
9:36@skynewsgathererMI6 officer says she can't answer whether Gareth should have told his friends that he used different names
9:37@skynewsgathererGareth made small number of unauthorised searches of SIS database, inquest told
9:37@skymartinbruntGareth did some unauthorised database searches. Not unheard of
9:38@skynewsgathererMI6 officers says this happens from time to time and can often be explained
9:40@skynewsgathererWitness says that if Gareth was doing something against policy, and 3rd party knew about, they could put pressure on him
9:40@stone_skynewsSIS F explains that MI6 officers must tell manager if they develop friendship with individuals from countries seen as a threat to UK
9:40@stone_skynewsCoroner asks whether friendship with an individual from US would require clearance..
9:40@stone_skynewsSIS F says she's not sure if she can answer it. Pauses. Then says no - US friendship would not require clearance
9:40@stone_skynewsCoroner then asks about friendship with individual from Kurdistan. Would officer have to tell bosses about that. SIS F says she can't answer
9:40@skynewsgathererWitness doesn't believe though that unauthorised searches put Gareth at risk
9:41@skymartinbruntNo evidence his unauthorised database searches were known to any hostile third party or were related to his death
9:42@skynewsgathererInquest heard earlier in week that Gareth may have had contact with man from Kurdistan through friend Elizabeth Guthrie
9:43@skynewsgathererMI6 witness tells inquest that she had no reason to think death of Gareth Williams was connected to his work
9:44@skymartinbruntMI6 review a year after his death concluded his death not connected with his work says witness
9:48@skymartinbruntNo threat to Gareth from any foreign intel service or agency and he hadn't been recognised or targeted by anyone
9:48@stone_skynewsCoroner asks whether SIS thought any foreign Intel organisation represented a threat to Gareth Williams. Witness SIS F says "No"
9:50@skynewsgathererWitness admits it 'clearly took far too long' to report Gareth missing. She says it was because policies were not communicated properly
9:51@skymartinbruntWitness says MI6 took far too long to check in him when he didn't turn up at work a week before body found
9:52@skynewsgathererWitness F says Gareth's boss should have told line manager and welfare department he had not shown up for work
9:53@stone_skynewsCoroner asks what comment SIS has for fact that Gareth Williams was not reported meeting for a week. SIS F: "It clearly took far too long"
9:53@stone_skynewsSIS F: "There were processes & policies in place. Clearly they were not followed. They haven't been communicated & trained strongly enough."
9:53@stone_skynewsWitness SIS F is strongly suggesting that Gareth Williams line manager, Witness G, failed to follow procedure for when officer is missing
9:53@skynewsgathererWitness says there should be 'greater clarity between GCHQ and SIS' about who is responsible for employees
9:54@skynewsgathererCoroner says she struggles to understand how a team which is supposed to be 'first class' didn't know what each other were doing
9:55@skymartinbruntCoroner says she struggling to understand how high-tech team didn't use electronic diary to know what exactly each other was doing
9:56@skynewsgathererCoroner says there's evidence of a complete break down in communication in relation to Gareth. MI6 witness agrees
9:56@skymartinbruntCoroner says there was complete breakdown of communication at MI6 over Gareth's absence
9:57@skynewsgathererFamily lawyer now asking about whether aspects of Gareth's private life would 'render him unsuitable for SIS work'
9:58@skynewsgathererWitness says vetting looks at 'trustworthiness and reliability - not about lifestyle or sexual preferences or choices which are legitimate'
10:00@skymartinbruntAnyone can have sex and lifestyle preferences and it's up to them to discuss it with vetting team for assessment
10:04@stone_skynewsFamily lawyer asks about vetting for Gareth Williams - SIS F says she can't specifically comment on vetting for Gareth
10:06@stone_skynewsFamily lawyer refers to suggestions in media (about Gareth Williams' possible sexual preferences) which could render him "unusable for SIS"
10:06@stone_skynewsSIS F says vetting looks at 'trustworthiness and reliability' - not lifestyle, sexual preferences or choices which are legitimate
10:06@skynewsgathererMI6 says they understood Gareth's reasons for wanting to leave London and go back to GCHQ
10:08@skynewsgathererFamily lawyer now asking again about Gareth's flat - letting agents told lawyer the tenant was 'secretary of state'
10:12@skynewsgathererFamily lawyer asks whether it would be fairer to say searches of database we 'unexplained' rather than 'unauthorised'. Witness agrees
10:13@skynewsgathererMI6 witness says the agency didn't launch its own investigation into Gareth's death as it was clearly a matter for police
10:16@skynewsgathererWitness says SIS are 'profoundly sorry' for delay in finding Gareth. Delay meant limited forensic evidence gathered from body
10:17@skynewsgathererImpact of Gareth's death means that everyone at SIS are now aware of responsibilities, says witness
10:18@skynewsgathererWitness also acknowledges that delay in finding Gareth made it even harder for his family
10:18@skymartinbruntWitness accepts delays in investigating his absence frustrated police investigation and caused more grief for family
10:18@stone_skynewsWitness SIS F: "MI6 are profoundly sorry about what happened [delay in reporting Gareth Williams missing] It shouldn't have happened."
10:18@stone_skynewsWitness SIS F: "We recognise the delay in finding Gareth Williams body has made it harder to come to terms with his death."
10:19@skynewsgathererInquest adjourned as family breaks down after hearing no disciplinary action was taken against Gareth's boss
10:20@skymartinbruntFamily member walks out in flood of tears as lawyer accuses Gareth Boss of total disregard for his welfare and safety in not reporting absence
10:20@stone_skynewsFamily of Gareth Williams leave court in tears as SIS F says no disciplinary action taken against officer who failed to report him missing
10:20@skynewsgathererGareth's boss, witness G, took a week to report him missing, the inquest heard yesterday
10:21@skymartinbruntInquest briefly adjourns because of family distress
10:22@stone_skynewsFamily lawyer for Gareth Williams had suggested that Witness G - who failed to report him missing - had "total disregard for his welfare"
10:23@stone_skynewsThis whole inquest must be extremely hard for Gareth Williams family. Every possible aspect of his personal & professional live is examined
10:24@skymartinbruntFamily lawyer says police investigation was defeated by MI6 failure to report Gareth's absence
10:25@skymartinbruntWitness says alarm should have been raised within two to four hours. It took eight days
10:26@skymartinbruntWitness says no disciplinary action was taken against Gareth's boss for not reporting his absence early as he should have done
10:31@skynewsgathererMI6 says they did not leak information to the media that Gareth looked up bondage websites
10:33@skymartinbruntWitness denies MI6 leaked to media details of Gareths computer searches of bondage websites
10:34@skynewsgathererMI6 witness says that if the police had asked for written signed witness statements they would have obliged
10:36@skymartinbruntWitnees denies anyone interfered with any of Gareth's electronic devices before handing to police
10:37@skynewsgathererMI6 confirms that all electronic devices used by Gareth were made available to police
10:37@skynewsgathererMI6 says that no one from agency entered Gareth's flat between 16+23 Aug
10:37@stone_skynewsWe still don't know categorically whether info about Gareth Williams looking at bondage websites is true or not. Discussed, not confirmed
10:39@skymartinbruntWitness says no spooks went into his flat between his first work absence and body discovery eight days later
10:39@skynewsgathererSIS F witness now finished. She is the last anonymous witness. Screens now being taken down. Inquest resumes at 1200
10:46@stone_skynewsAnonymous witnesses in Gareth Williams inquest done now. Courtroom screens removed. Next up: HR manager at GCHQ & another GCHQ employee
10:47@skymartinbruntScreens have been removed for the next witness who will begin evidence at 12 noon
11:13@skynewsgathererHelen Yelland from GCHQ now giving evidence. She was approached by Gareth's line manager at GCHQ on 20/08/10
WITNESS: Helen Yelland
11:18@skynewsgatherer'There was some confusion as to who was taking what checks,' says HR witness, when asked about when Gareth went missing
11:25@skynewsgathererMs Yelland says she had no info about Gareth's state of mind - police were told he had been "pulled off job and could have taken it badly"
11:28@skynewsgathererMs Yelland spoke to Gareth's sister at 1645 on 23rd to tell her she had reported Gareth missing
11:30@skynewsgathererChecks should have been made to find Gareth very shortly after he was expected at work, says GCHQ HR worker
11:49@skynewsgathererMet Police lawyer now questioning Ms Yelland
11:50@skynewsgathererAsking about call made by Ms Yelland to the police. Police summarise info in what's called a CAD report
11:52@skynewsgathererReport says that Gareth was last spoken to on 13th Aug and that his sister was due to stay with him
11:54@skynewsgathererCAD report says "He was recently pulled off a job and informant is concerned he has taken this badly"
11:55@skynewsgatherer"Who told you he had been pulled off job and had taken it badly?" asks lawyer
11:56@skynewsgathererMs Yelland replies that she could have interpreted Gareth's request to return to GCHQ as being taken off job. Though admits odd language
12:01@skynewsgathererInquest into death of Gareth Williams has been adjourned for lunch. Back at 2pm
END OF SESSION 7. Thursday Morning, April 26, 2012

Link to source of April 26 coverage