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UK intelligence officer: No cover-up in 'spy in the bag' case

LONDON - There was "no evidence" to suggest that British intelligence services were part of a cover-up after one of their own was found naked and decomposing inside a locked duffel bag in his London apartment, an intelligence officer said on Thursday.

"Witness F" gave evidence to the inquest -- which are held when deaths are deemed violent or unnatural -- in the August 2010 death of MI6 officer Gareth Williams from behind a screen, BBC News reported.

MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence agency, is roughly equivalent to the Untied States' CIA.

The denial came on the same day that one of the code-breaker's relatives shrieked and brought proceedings to a halt while listening to details of a series of missteps that allowed for the spy to lay in his bathroom undiscovered for a week, the Telegraph reported.

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The relatives walked out of the inquest in tears during Witness F's evidence, the BBC reported.

Their lawyer Anthony O'Toole said the agency showed a "total disregard for Gareth's whereabouts and safety."

Williams, 31, was a math prodigy working as a codebreaker at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the state eavesdropping service. 

Williams' family became increasingly upset during the four days of proceedings as it became clear that his absence did not spark any concern, despite the sensitive nature of his job, according to reports.

Witness F, a senior intelligence officer, told the inquest that MI6 was "profoundly sorry" for the delays, which had made it more difficult for the family to "come to terms with his dreadful death," the newspaper reported.

A detective told the inquest on Tuesday that a "third party was involved in that padlock being locked, and Gareth being placed in the bag."

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The inquest has also been told that Williams, who was single and intensely private, would not have let a stranger into his flat, and that he would not have given his keys to anyone apart from close family.

There were no signs of a break-in or indications of foul play.

Small amounts of unidentified DNA were detected on the bag.

On Wednesday, the inquest heard that years earlier Williams had been found tied to his bed and unable to free himself.

Williams had shouted out for help in the middle of the night when he was living in an annex of the home of his then-landlady Jennifer Elliot in Cheltenham, western England.

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Elliot and her husband found Williams dressed only in boxer shorts with his hands tied to the headboard of the bed. He told her that he had been just "messing about," trying to see "if I could get myself free," the Telegraph newspaper reported.

In a written statement, Elliot said it was likely "to be sexual rather than escapology," the paper added.

Williams later took up a three-year assignment at the headquarters of Britain's foreign intelligence service MI6, whose offices are on the banks of the River Thames in central London.