Spies could be compelled to give evidence to Litvinenko inquest

 

British and Russian spies could be compelled to give evidence at the inquest into the death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died from radioactive poisoning after meeting former contacts for tea at a London hotel in 2006.

The inquest into the controversial death of Mr Litvinenko, 43, is due to be held next year. At a preparatory hearing today, lawyers for his widow, Marina, called for both MI6 and the FSB – the KGB’s successor – to be invited to participate.

The hearing, before High Court judge Sir Robert Owen, was told that both the British and Russian governments appeared reluctant to cooperate fully. Hugh Davies, counsel for the coroner’s legal team, said Britain had been asked to disclose documents in January but they were not made available until the end of August.

Neil Garnham QC, representing the Home Secretary, Theresa May, said the Home Office would act as an “umbrella organisation” to coordinate information for other government departments including the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Cabinet Office, Foreign Office, MI6, MI5, Health Protection Agency, Ministry of Defence and Serious Organised Crime Agency.

The hearing was told that the Russian government had not taken up an invitation to participate. Maya Sikand, representing Mrs Litvinenko, said the invitation should be extended to the FSB, adding: “What also should be considered is whether MI6 should be invited to apply to be so designated.”

The case was adjourned until next month, when a hearing will decide the scope of the inquest. The alleged involvement of Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, former KGB contacts who met Mr Litvinenko on the day in question, is expected to be examined. Both have denied involvement.

Mr Davies added that the coroner would have to decide whether the inquest also had a duty to investigate the possible culpability of the Russian state “and the possible culpability of the British state in the death of Alexander Litvinenko – either in itself carrying out, or by its agents, the poisoning. Or by failing to take reasonable steps to protect Mr Litvinenko from a real and immediate risk to his life.”

The inquest may also look into a “number of competing and increasingly controversial theories” as to who else may have been involved, including Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, the Spanish mafia, Chechen groups, Italian academic Mario Scaramella and Alexander Talik, a close associate of Mr Lugovoi.

Mrs Litvinenko said she simply wanted the truth. “I believe it is important, not just for me and my family and friends, but it is very important for the two countries, for Russia and England. This relationship is quite difficult and I believe people need to know what happened,” she said.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities