Search

Litvinenko inquest: Files to be examined in private

12:31 27 February 2013

Poisoned former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in hospital before his death in 2006

Poisoned former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in hospital before his death in 2006

Archant

Sensitive evidence alleged to expose poisoned Muswell Hill spy Alexander Litvinenko’s ties to MI6 will be examined in secret, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.

His widow Marina has spoken of her disappointment the files - which lawyers believe may contain the key to Mr Litvinkenko’s assassination in London in November 2006 - was still being shrouded in secrecy amid claims the government planned to “suppress” evidence to protect relations with Russia.

But Foreign Secretary William Hague argued the disclosure of certain files relating to the case could pose a risk to national security.

Coroner Sir Robert Owen today told a pre-inquest review, at London’s Royal Courts of Justice, he would consider a selection of that evidence in private, giving Mr Hague’s application the “most stringent and critical examination”.

He assured interested parties he would carry out a “full, fearless and open investigation into the circumstances of Mr Litvinenko’s death”.

Mr Litvinenko, 43, was poisoned with polonium-210 while drinking tea at the Millennium Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square. His family believes he was working for MI6 at the time and was killed on the orders of the Kremlin.

Speaking after his ruling, Mrs Litvinenko said: “It isn’t an ideal decision for us but it could have been worse.”

She added: “I have to trust the coroner, I must trust him, I have no option. I believe he will do exactly what he says.”

The inquest was due to formally open on May 1, with former KGB agents Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun have been accused of his murder.

Prosecutors named Lugovoy as the main suspect in the case but Russia has refused to extradite him to the UK for questioning. Both men deny involvement.

The hearing was adjourned today ahead of a directions hearing on March 14.

The coroner gave no indication on when he would conduct the private hearing but told the pre-inquest review that he could reconvene proceedings relating to the files in public if he deemed it possible to do so.

0 comments

Latest News Stories

07:00
Joan Franklin was left shaken and severly bruised after being shoved by girl, in her 20s.

An 80-year-old woman has told how she was left crying on the floor in agony after being viciously assaulted by a girl she had asked to keep the noise down.

Yesterday, 17:56
Police tape

A 38-year-old man has died after being hit by a bus in East Finchley.

Yesterday, 15:00
Juliet Stevenson and Christopher Eccleston join Lindsey Wylie and volunteers as they prepare for this years Pinknic in the Park in Waterlow Park. Picture: Polly Hancock

Actors Christopher Eccleston and Juliet Stevenson are urging as many people as possible to attend a pink-themed annual festival to raise money for a Highgate charity.

Yesterday, 13:47
Members of the Friends of Parkland Walk are furious that heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs) could soon drive on the nature reserve. Picture: Nigel Sutton

More than 1,000 people, including Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West, have joined the fight to stop lorries invading a quiet nature reserve.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Get ready to take in the beautiful sights of London from above!

Are you always seeking unique ways to see your favourite city? This one is for you.

Shop till you drop!

Home to top name brands at great prices, TK Maxx is more like a treasure hunt than a shop. Perfect for grabbing a bargain or some hidden gems, you arm yourself with a trolley and go wild.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder