“Unlawfully Killed” MI6 Agent

You’ll know from the title of my latest novel, I’m not one to shy away from the gory subject of murder death kill. But I took this screenshot of the BBC News website earlier today, and it just has me scratching my head at the term “unlawfully killed”. Can’t they just say ‘murder’? Surely that’s what they mean?!

I’m sure there is probably a reason for this terminology, but when you look at the actual meaning of the words, and the details of the case in question, it’s pretty obvious we’re looking at a murder case. ‘Unlawful killing’ implies that there is ‘lawful killing’ of some kind, does it not? And when someone IS killed lawfully, that’s usually called ‘capital punishment’, am I right?

You don’t go around hearing about ‘unlawful axe killers’ do you?┬áThis is clearly a murder case, so why not report it as such, instead of skipping around it with such a non-committal term.

It is a peculiar case, including the way it’s been handled. It was previously reported by the BBC: “As the coroner heading the inquest into the death of MI6 officer Gareth Williams prepares to reveal her verdict, she says she cannot consider unlawful killing.” — Why not? It’s now come down to common sense that the MI6 agent in question could most certainly not padlock himself in a sports bag from the inside, so why is it only just being accepted now? I can just feel the family’s frustration at all this legal jargon and dithering about, and I feel incredibly sorry for them.

Maybe now they’ve decided it’s an “unlawful killing”, they can finally get to the bottom of this murder case and we can all move on.


2 thoughts on ““Unlawfully Killed” MI6 Agent

  1. There are a couple of reasons for it, I believe. One is that there are a number of requirements for a killing to be murder in English law, including ‘mens rea’, otherwise known as a guilty mind or intent to do harm, although I prefer it rendered as ‘malice aforethought’.

    In this case, it would appear that the coroner did not feel he had sufficient evidence to say that it was murder; it could, for instance, have been manslaughter because the other party was reckless or somesuch. That would be another form of unlawful killing.

    Beyond that, coroners – at least for us sassenachs – are a very unusual type of proceeding as they, I believe, the only court that is investigative rather than oppositional. My point is that they don’t operate like normal courts, and so there may be a particular reason, given their mandate, as to why the coroner couldn’t be more explicit.

  2. My personal opinion is he was murdered in the bath by professionals and stuffed in the bag for disposal, but they were disturbed before they could finish.

    Bit like Dr David Kelly. ‘They’ dumped his body at the hurry up and forgot to remove the ECG sensors they watched his heart stop beating on.

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