The coroner overseeing the inquest into the death of MI6 spy Gareth Williams has said that it is "unlikely" that his mysterious death will ever be solved.
Giving her verdict at Westminster Coroner's Court today after the seven-day inquest, Dr Fiona Wilcox said that "most of the fundamental questions in relation to how Gareth died remain unanswered".
Mr Williams death was surrounded by "highly unusual circumstances" which immediately raised the possibility of foul play however, which in turn prompted "endless speculation", Dr Wilcox said.
In assessing the initial investigation into his death, Dr Wilcox discredited both the police and MI6 in how they handled the case.
MI6 had previously been accused of mishandling evidence and failing to hand over evidence to the inquiry, while police were accused of not properly investigating a bag of nine USB sticks handed over to them during the investigation.
Dr Wilcox said that Mr Williams' line manager, Witness G, "stretched the bounds of credibility" in their excuses as to why they did raise more concern when Mr Williams failed to turn up to work.
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Dr Wilcox said "it would appear that many agencies fell short" in trying to solve Mr Williams' mysterious death.
Ruling out details of the spy's personal life, such as a passion for women's clothes and alleged cross-dressing, in having anything to do with his death, Dr Wilcox suggested that a third party leaked these details to distort the investigation.
She said: "I wonder if this was an attempt by some third party to manipulate the evidence."
Dr Wilcox concluded that she believed that while Mr Williams may well have found some way to lock himself in the North Face holdall he was found in, she found it immensely hard to believe that he did.
"I find on the balance of probabilities that, if he had got into the bag and locked himself in, he would have taken a knife in with him," she said. "He was a risk assessor."
"Gareth may have worked out a technique how to get into the bag and lock it from inside but I find it extremely unlikely that he did so."
Dr Wilcox said that while she believed that Mr Williams' death was unnatural, she could not reasonably conclude based on the evidence that it was a result of 'unlawful killing'.