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Cameron Nixes Justice in Litvinenko Case

Britain's legitimate legal process pushed aside by international politics

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

People looking for an honest and just outcome in the 2006 Litvinenko death case will have their hopes dashed. They can thank UK Prime Minister David Cameron for that. In mid-2014 he inserted himself into the proceedings, exerted political pressure from the highest level, and completely reversed the legitimate course the case was taking.

Earlier Home Secretary Theresa May had clearly expressed her wish that "...the normal legal process following a suspicious death should be permitted to run its course." But that was not to come. Cameron's intervention stopped the wheels of justice, and politically corrupted the case. 

This was a real setback. For some time there had been considerable trouble plaguing this case. As I reported in my book Litvinenko Murder Case Solved, the coroner, Sir Robert Owen, was basically refusing to follow the law in executing his statutory duties. Instead of ruling on the manner and cause of death he went rogue. He began conducting an illicit criminal investigation with an aim toward incriminating Putin and Russia. But his investigation flouted British law that specifically prohibits coroners from placing criminal liability.

Home Secretary Theresa May finally stepped forth to put Owen in his place. On February 1, 2014, she told him to knock off the witch hunt for a Russian connection and to concentrate on his legal duties, i.e., simply ruling on the manner and cause of death.

Following his reprimand, Sir Robert reluctantly issued a formal statement agreeing to remove his illicit activities from the official agenda. Finally it was starting to look like things were getting on the right track. Justice was in sight.

But then Cameron got involved. He butted-in, reversing all that progress in one fell swoop. A July 22, 2014 Reuters headline said, "Britain Does U-turn on Ex-KGB Agent Litvinenko Murder Inquiry." So now, against Theresa May's original recommendation, the coroner's work would be transferred to a Public Inquiry where Owen could go hog-wild on his witch hunt for a Russian angle with great freedom and alacrity.

Why did Cameron do that? Why did he go against his country's Home Secretary on this?

Here's a hint. On that very same day, July 22, as reported in the Guardian: "EU Announces Further Sanctions on Russia after Downing of MH17."

There's the answer to why Cameron got involved. He was joining in the Russia sanctions frenzy that had erupted over the MH17 tragedy. This was another way to poke Putin in the eye. July 22 coverage in The Week put it plainly, "Litvinenko Inquiry is Launched: Now There's a Coincidence!" Cameron denied the connection, but few experts bought his story. Cameron was denying the obvious.

So now here we are with the official results of Owen's witch hunt unwrapped. Given the history of Cameron's intrusion and politicization of the case, that report isn't worth the paper it's written on.

The report, and the Public Inquiry that led to it, have plainly made a mockery of justice. Shame on Cameron.

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