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Litvinenko Inquiry

Volume 584: debated on Tuesday 22 July 2014

I am announcing today the Government’s decision to establish an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 to investigate the death of Mr Alexander Litvinenko in November 2006. The inquiry will be established by the Home Office.

The inquiry will be chaired by Sir Robert Owen, a senior judge who is the current coroner in the inquest into Mr Litvinenko’s death. Following consultation with Sir Robert, the terms of reference of the inquiry are:

1. Subject to paragraphs 2 and 3 below, the chairman is to conduct an investigation into the death of Alexander Litvinenko in order to:

(i) ascertain, in accordance with s.5(1) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, who the deceased was; how, when and where he came by his death; and the particulars (if any) required by the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 to be registered concerning the death;

(ii) identify, so far as is consistent with s.2 of the Inquiries Act 2005, where responsibility for the death lies; and

(iii) make such recommendations as may seem appropriate.

2. That investigation is to take into account the investigations which have already been conducted by the assistant coroner for inner north London.

3. In the light of the assistant coroner’s views, expressed in his ruling of 17 May 2013, that there is no material within the relevant documents to suggest that, at any material time, Alexander Litvinenko was or ought to have been assessed as being at a real and immediate threat to his life, the inquiry will not address the question of whether the UK authorities could or should have taken steps which would have prevented the death.

My right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has written to the Lord Chief Justice asking that he suspend the current inquest in accordance with schedule 1 of Coroners and Justice Act 2009. The coroner and the widow of Mr Litvinenko have been given advance notice of this decision.

The arrangements for the inquiry will now be a matter for Sir Robert Owen. I am very grateful to Sir Robert for continuing to lead the independent judicial investigation into Mr Litvinenko’s death. It is more than seven years since Mr Litvinenko’s death, and I very much hope that this inquiry will be of some comfort to his widow Mrs Litvinenko.