Camden Council will not have to pay �1million for Alexander Litvinenko inquest

Town hall bosses breathed a sigh of relief this week after being told they will not have to pay more than �1million towards an inquest into the death of poisoned former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.

Camden Council officials had feared money would have to be redirected from frontline services to help cover the costs of an inquest, which is expected to last more than a year.

The bill was due to fall at Camden’s door because the former Russian spy had died within the borough’s boundaries at University College Hospital in Bloomsbury.

Three other boroughs were expected to share the �4.4million bill with Camden.

But the Ministry of Justice this week confirmed that it would fund the hearing at St Pancras Coroner’s Court.

Community safety boss Cllr Abdul Hai said: “Following the tireless lobbying of the Ministry of Justice, I am delighted that we now have a firm commitment to cover the estimated �4million cost of the Alexander Litvinenko inquest.

“By making representations on behalf of the four inner north London boroughs we no longer face having to divert �1million from Camden funds that are desperately needed to maintain front line services at time of continuing pressure.”

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Mr Litvinenko, who is buried in Highgate Cemetery and lived in Osier Crescent, Muswell Hill, died in November 2006 after being poisoned with radioactive polonium-210.

The case was branded “nuclear terrorism” and another ex-KGB man was named as Scotland Yard’s prime suspect after the two met on the day that Mr Litvinenko fell ill.

In October 2011, St Pancras Coroner Dr Andrew Reid agreed to an inquest into the poisoning, which he recommended be wide-ranging. He also said it would encompass “the wider circumstances” of the incident, possibly including an assessment of its political motivations.

No date has yet been set for the inquest.