Search

Litvinenko inquest: Files to be examined in private

PUBLISHED: 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 Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

A mother-of-nine and her nephew became innocent victims of a “vendetta of violence” when they were shot dead in their own home in East Finchley, the Old Bailey has heard.

Fire crews tackled a blaze that tore through a three-storey terraced house in Kentish Town.

12:18

The future of a family centre which is battling a lack of funding is closer to being secured after 127 children took part in a fun run.

The Whittington Hospital’s fertility centre is opening its own sperm bank and calling for men between 18 and 40 to donate.

10:52

A man was subjected to a “disgraceful and prolonged” sexual assault on a busy Victoria Line train between Finsbury Park and King’s Cross.

10:19

Police are searching for a man after presents were stolen from a Primrose Hill home on Christmas Eve.

07:00

The tragic death of nine-year-old chess champion Michael Uriely from an asthma attack is hearbreaking enough.

Yesterday, 14:09

The Alternative Clothes Show returned to Crouch End last Saturday, March 25, where students from City and Islington College joined local models to showcase a range of dazzling outfits crafted using recycled materials.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now