Three people tested after former spy's radiation death

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The Independent Online

Three people have been sent for radiological tests as a precautionary measure following the radiation poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, the Home Secretary said today.

John Reid was due to update MPs and the public on the case in a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon.

It was also claimed today that police found traces of radiation at further locations across London. Scotland Yard refused to discuss the reports.

The NHS Direct helpline has received more than 450 calls since the radiation alert was issued on Friday from people worried that they could have been contaminated.

A total of 18 were referred to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), which in turn referred three for tests at a specialist clinic as a "precautionary measure".

It takes about a week for the test results to come back.

Mr Reid said today: "We are doing what we can to put as much information as possible in the public domain.

"The police are investigating what they regard as a suspicious death and they have not ruled out or ruled in any particular option."

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett were both being kept informed of the latest developments, he added.

Mr Reid refused to comment on the impact of the saga on diplomatic relations between Russia and Britain, other than to repeat Ms Beckett's request to the Russian authorities for any information which may help the investigation.

The Home Secretary will make an emergency statement on the death of Mr Litvinenko at 3.30pm today in response to an urgent question by shadow home secretary David Davis.

Mr Davis said: "I am sure that there will be an intensive police investigation into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko and it is important that there is full cooperation from anyone who may be able to help with their inquiries including, if they are asked, from the Russian authorities.

"It is essential that other dissidents living in Britain are reassured about their safety and there are also questions about how polonium 210 came to be used in Britain."

So far there have been confirmed findings of radiation at three locations in London: the Itsu sushi bar in Piccadilly, the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair and at Mr Litvinenko's north London home.mfl