Litvinenko widow's inquest fury

The widow of poisoned ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko is "utterly dismayed" by a coroner ruling the inquest into his death cannot hear evidence in public on whether his death could have been prevented or Russia's alleged involvement.

Litvinenko inquest doubt 'a tragedy for British justice'

This is a very sad day for Mrs Litvinenko, a tragedy for British justice which has until now been respected around the world, and it is frightening precedent for all of those, around the world, who have been trying so hard to expose the crimes committed by conspiracy of organised that operate from the Kremlin.

All those concerned with exposing the truth will be shocked and saddened that a political deal has been done between the two governments to prevent the truth from ever seeing the light of day.

– A statement from Marina Litvinenko's solicitors

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Developments in the Alexander Litvinenko case to date

Alexander Litvinenko died in November 2006 after his tea was poisoned with a radioactive poison, allegedly during a meeting with two Russians - former KGB contacts Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun, in central London.

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

Alexander Litvinenko's widow Marina. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The pre-inquest hearing heard details of Mr Litvinenko's work with MI6. He had been working with the agency for a "number of years" and was working with the Spanish secret service investigating the Russian mafia.

Litvinenko was paid by both British and Spanish secret services, into a joint bank account he shared with his wife, the court heard.

He had been due to travel to Spain with Mr Lugovoy shortly before his death to provide intelligence in an investigation into the Russian mafia's links to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Ben Emmerson QC speaking at the pre-inquest hearing.

Litvinenko inquest could be replaced by public inquiry

The inquest into the death of poisoned spy Alexander Litvinenko could be scrapped and replaced with a public inquiry to allow evidence to be heard in secret.

Coroner Sir Robert Owen published a ruling today which revealed that he cannot hear evidence on the preventability of Mr Litvinenko's death or linked to the alleged involvement of the Russian state in public.

Alexander Litvinenko died in hospital in November 2006.

Evidence cannot be heard in secret as part of an inquest but could be as part of a public inquiry.

Sir Robert said: "It is my present view that I should hear submissions as to whether I should invite the Secretary of State (the Home Secretary) on behalf of Government to consider whether the power to hold an inquiry should be exercised in this case."

He said that the issues of preventability and Russian involvement are of "central importance" to the investigation into Mr Litvinenko's death.

Litvinenko friend: Coroner ruling is 'deeply dismaying'

A friend of the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko and his widow Marina said the coroner's decision was "deeply dismaying", and that it was "upsetting" that Britain had prioritised relations with Russia over the need to hold an open inquest:

It appears the British government is more concerned about the use of chemical weapons in Syria than radioactive weapons being used on the streets of London.

On the other hand, it's an admission by the British government that the Russian state is culpable because otherwise they would not have requested immunity.

That in itself is a partial victory for Marina.

– Alex Goldfarb