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Gareth Williams Death: Inquest Gave A Rare Insight Into World Of MI6 Espionage

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The Gareth Williams inquest provided a rare insight into the highly secretive world of Britain's national security agencies.

The picture of life working for Government intelligence painted at the hearing was a far cry from the glamorous and dangerous world of MI6's most famous fictional employee, James Bond.

It was bureaucracy and office politics rather than a succession of beautiful women, car chases and lucky escapes from certain death that made Mr Williams want to leave the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), as MI6 is known.

According to his sister, the young Welsh codebreaker became disillusioned with the "office culture, post-work drinks, flash car competitions and the rat race".

More mundanely, his line manager at MI6 said he decided to quit because he was getting bogged down in the red tape of "process risk mitigation".

The inquest heard that Mr Williams visited bondage websites, and had women's wigs, make-up and £20,000 of designer women's clothing and shoes in his flat.

But his boss at MI6 - given the codename "SIS F" - indicated that what the maths prodigy got up to in his private life would not necessarily have stopped him carrying out his top-secret work.

She said: "There's no set template as to what (an employee's) lifestyle should be. Individuals have lifestyles and sexual choices which are perfectly legitimate."

His line manager assumed the spy was stuck on a train, and colleagues later thought he might have been packing in preparation for his return to GCHQ, the Government listening station in Cheltenham.

SIS F blamed the week-long delay in alerting Scotland Yard to Mr Williams's disappearance, which hampered detectives' investigation into the death, on a "breakdown in communication".

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