Beckett calls for ‘full cooperation’ in Litvinenko case
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will seek to bring murder charges over the death of Alexander Litvinenko.
UK prosecutors said Russian citizen Andrey Lugovoy, a former KGB officer, should be charged over the poisoning of the Russian spy.
Foreign secretary Margaret Beckett has demanded Russia’s full cooperation and the permanent undersecretary at the Foreign Office met with the Russian ambassador today.
Ms Beckeet said: “This was a serious crime. We are seeking and expect full co-operation from the Russian authorities in bringing the perpetrator to face British justice.
“These points were made strongly to the Russian ambassador when he was called into the Foreign Office today.”
However, it appears unlikely Mr Lugovoy will be extradited to stand trial for the murder, described today as an “extraordinarily grave crime” by the director of public prosecutions.
Mr Litvinenko died on November 23 2006 in London after ingesting a fatal dose of Polonium 210.
Scotland Yard launched an investigation as soon as the poisoning became apparent and handed a file to the CPS in January. The CPS counter terrorism division has now concluded there is sufficient evidence to bring charges in the case.
Director of public prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald said this morning: “I have today concluded that the evidence sent to us by the police is sufficient to charge Andrey Lugovoy with the murder of Mr Litvinenko by deliberate poisoning.
“I have further concluded that a prosecution of this case would clearly be in the public interest.”
The attorney general Lord Goldsmith said he supported the CPS decision and confirmed he had been consulted during the investigation.
CPS lawyers will now seek an early extradition of Mr Lugovoy from Russia to the UK, but Russian officials have said there is “no chance” of an extradition.
The case has the potential to strain diplomatic negotiations between the UK and Russia, already tense after disagreements over Iran.
Speaking to BBC News 24, the shadow foreign secretary William Hague argued no government should stand in the way of a trial if there is sufficient evidence to pursue a prosecution.