Court: U.K. Must Revisit Idea of Public Probe Into Litvinenko Death

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 11, 2014, 9:25 a.m.

A key U.K. ju­di­cial body has ruled that Bri­tain must re­con­sider hold­ing a pub­lic in­quiry in­to the po­loni­um pois­on­ing death of Rus­si­an dis­sid­ent Al­ex­an­der Litv­inen­ko.

A Tues­day rul­ing by the High Court of Justice in Lon­don re­quires Brit­ish Home Sec­ret­ary Theresa May to re-ex­am­ine her jus­ti­fic­a­tion for pre­vent­ing an open in­vest­ig­a­tion of the 2006 in­cid­ent, Re­u­ters re­ports. The former KGB of­ficer died after drink­ing tea tain­ted with ra­dio­act­ive po­loni­um 210.

May last year blocked a re­quest for such a pub­lic probe from Robert Owen, a cor­on­er who led a closed-door look at cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death.

“If she is to main­tain her re­fus­al [to hold an open in­quiry], she will need bet­ter reas­ons than those giv­en in the de­cision let­ter,” Lord Justice Steph­en Richards said in a state­ment for a three-judge pan­el. The group un­an­im­ously backed the find­ing, though it is­sued no dir­ect de­mand for a pub­lic probe.

“The case for set­ting up an im­me­di­ate stat­utory in­quiry as re­ques­ted by the cor­on­er is plainly a strong one,” the three judges ad­ded.

An open in­vest­ig­a­tion could im­plic­ate Rus­sia in the death, cre­at­ing po­ten­tial for polit­ic­al and eco­nom­ic fal­lout from any find­ings, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters. Mo­scow main­tains it was not in­volved.

Last year, May said polit­ic­al con­sid­er­a­tions had played a role in her de­cision not to go for­ward with an open in­vest­ig­a­tion. She ad­ded, though, that those factors were not de­cis­ive.

The High Court of Justice said there are “strong reas­ons of pub­lic in­terest” for the United King­dom to ex­am­ine al­leg­a­tions of Rus­si­an col­lu­sion in the death.

The Brit­ish Home Of­fice in­dic­ated it is re­view­ing the court’s find­ing.

Mar­ina Litv­inen­ko, the KGB vet­er­an’s wid­ow who ini­ti­ated the push for an open probe, said she was happy to learn about Tues­day’s de­cision.

“This was the murder of a Brit­ish cit­izen on the streets of Lon­don us­ing ra­dio­act­ive pois­on. You would have thought that the gov­ern­ment would want to get to the bot­tom of who was be­hind it,” she said.

What We're Following See More »
CNN/ORC Has Clinton Up 5 Points
13 hours ago

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 49%-44% in a new CNN/ORC poll out Monday afternoon. But it's Gary Johnson's performance, or lack thereof, that's the real story. Johnson, who had cleared 10% in some surveys earlier this fall, as he made a bid to qualify for the debates, is down to 3% support. He must hit 5% nationwide for the Libertarian Party to qualify for some federal matching funds in future elections.

McCarthy, Pelosi Team Up on National Guard Bonuses
15 hours ago

The majority and minority leader of the House are both saying "California's veterans are not to blame for being mistakenly overpaid, after a Los Angeles Times story revealed that officials are trying to claw back millions in bonuses from California National Guardsmen. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy called the efforts to recoup the money 'disgraceful,' and asked for the Department of Defense to waive the repayments soldiers would be forced to make if they inappropriately received re-enlistment bonuses for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she's looking for a "legislative fix" in the lame-duck session.

IBD/TIPP Poll Shows a Dead Heat
17 hours ago

A new Investor’s Business Daily/TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each earning 41% support. On the one hand, the poll has been skewing in Trump's favor this year, relative to other polls. But on the other, data guru Nate Silver called the IBD/TIPP poll the most accurate in 2012.

Clinton Leads by 12 in ABC Tracking Poll
22 hours ago

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by 12 percentage points among likely voters, 50 to 38 percent, in a new ABC News tracking poll, "her highest support and his lowest to date in ABC News and ABC News/Washington Post polls. Gary Johnson has 5 percent support, Jill Stein 2 percent. Clinton led by only four points in the last ABC/Post poll on Oct. 13.

Morning Consult Poll: Clinton Decisively Won Debate
3 days ago

"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.