In the Media

Police consider mass DNA screening of secret agents in hunt for spy in bag 'killer'.

PUBLISHED May 8, 2012

Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said the force was considering a mass screening programme among the spy's colleagues at the Secret Intelligence Service.

But he stressed that without an official suspect in the case, they could not compel anyone to take part in a DNA screening programme.

Last week the coroner at Mr Williams' inquest said the 31-year-old, whose naked, decomposing remains were found in a locked sports holdall, had probably been killed unlawfully by a mystery third party.

Dr Fiona Wilcox also raised the prospect that another spy may have been involved in his death, remarking that it was a "legitimate line of inquiry" for police.

Asked if he expected MI6 personnel to co-operate in the investigation, Mr Hogan-Howe said: "It's called the law."

The Met Commissioner also said a new independent forensics review would be launched in order to see if anything had been missed in the initial investigation.

Mr Williams' inquest heard how forensic scientists had found minute traces of DNA inside the apartment, but were unable to match them to a third party.

But the hearing was also told how weeks of investigative work were wasted, trying to find a match for a DNA trace found on the back of Mr Williams' hand.

It later emerged that sample in fact belonged to one of the forensic scientists working on the case.

The forensics review will be carried out by a private firm, who were not involved in the original investigation.

Last week Dr Wilcox also voiced concern over the way potentially vital information was withheld from the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) in the case, Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire.

Due to the sensitivity of Mr Williams' work, interviews with SIS agents were conducted by members of the SO15 counter-terrorism unit and then passed to detectives.

But Mr Hogan-Howe said SO15 would now be taken off the case in order to remove the unnecessary "extra-layer" of investigators.

Mr Hogan-Howe said he believed problems that had occurred were the result of "miscommunication", rather than a "mischief", but said he expected the SIO to have direct access to all relevant information and witnesses.

The review of the case, which was demanded by Mr Williams' family, is to be led by Hamish Campbell, head of the Met's Homicide unit.

DCI Sebire, who was praised for her efforts by the family and the coroner, is likely to pass the case onto a colleague after being promoted.