Spy poisoning 'cannot be ruled out'
Scientists cannot rule out that spy Gareth Williams was poisoned before being dumped in a bag because it took MI6 a week to realise he was missing, an inquest has heard.
Traces of a drug matching the party drug GHB appeared in his bloodstream - but forensic expert Denise Stanworth said it "probably" appeared naturally after he died. She added that "we cannot rule out volatile agents" as she was asked how reliable toxicology can be nine days after death.
Ms Stanworth also said it was impossible to say if there was any sign of the legal high poppers, acknowledging that the drug "could have caused loss of consciousness or death".
MI6 had earlier apologised for failing to raise the alarm about his disappearance, conceding the error may have hampered police inquiries.
Relatives walked out on the inquest in tears as a senior spy said the secret service was "profoundly sorry" for delays in noticing he was missing.
The family's lawyer accused MI6 of showing "total disregard for Gareth's whereabouts and safety" before he was found dead in his London home on August 23, 2010.
Mr Williams, who was largely teetotal, had 78mg per 100ml of alcohol in his blood when toxicology tests were carried out on his decomposed body.
Ms Stanworth said the traces of GHB was "likely to be post-mortem production". When asked how reliable tests could be, she added: "In terms of many of the drugs, reliable, but in terms of the more volatile substances, not that reliable."
MI6 earlier denied "dark arts" were behind his death, despite saying a malign or hostile party could have "theoretically put some pressure on to Gareth".
The inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court was adjourned until Friday.