LONDON, November 27 (RIA Novosti) – A UK court ruled Wednesday that crucial materials relating to the 2006 murder of former Russian security service agent Alexander Litvinenko must remain secret, British media reported.
Coroner Sir Robert Owen, who is leading the inquest into Litvinenko's death, ruled earlier this year that certain materials in the case are not subject to "public interest immunity" (PII) and should be disclosed for a full inquiry.
Foreign Secretary William Hague had sought a judicial review of the decision.
Three High Court senior judges upheld Hague’s appeal on the grounds that the coroner “did not really explain the reasoning which drove him to decide that the need for 'a full and proper inquiry' outweighed the real risk of damage to national security,” the Guardian reported.
Litvinenko, who was 43 years old when he died, had worked for Russia’s Federal Security Service, a successor agency to the KGB, but later became a virulent critic of the Kremlin and moved from Russia to Britain in 2000.
He was fatally poisoned in London with the toxic radioactive isotope polonium-210 days after being granted UK citizenship, prompting widespread speculation that the Russian state was involved in his death.
In May, Owen upheld an order by the UK Foreign Office to keep crucial evidence in the case secret out of security considerations, but requested that the British government hold a public inquiry to substitute the lower-level inquest, which would mean that evidence involving matters of national security could be heard by the court behind closed doors.
The request for an inquiry was rejected in July, but that ruling is being challenged by Litvinenko’s widow Marina.
According to her lawyer Yelena Tsirlina, the widow’s appeal for a public inquiry will be heard early next year. The date of the hearings remains to be set.