Litvinenko’s father and brother claim poison pen plot was a hoax
Poison pen plot ‘was made up by Litvinenko’ his father and brother claim
By Christopher Leake and Will Stewart
PUBLISHED: 01:10, 15 April 2012 | UPDATED: 01:16, 15 April 2012
Murdered spy Alexander Litvinenko made up a claim that an assassin was sent to London to kill an exiled Russian billionaire with a poisoned pen, a new documentary claims.
Litvinenko’s father and brother say that the dissident ex-KGB agent concocted the murder plot to help oligarch Boris Berezovsky obtain asylum in the UK.
The alleged plot has similarities with the death of Bulgarian writer Georgi Markov, who died in 1978 three days after a poison-tipped umbrella was used to stab him in the leg in a London street.
According to Litvinenko’s father Walter and younger brother Maxim – who now live in Italy – Alexander revealed details of the poison pen ‘plot’ three years before dying at a London hospital in 2006 after his tea was laced with the toxic radioactive isotope polonium-210.
The family’s claim, made on the Russian TV channel Vesti, is that Litvinenko told them about his role in the bogus murder plot when he was working for Berezovsky as a £4,500-a-month troubleshooter in 2003. In the documentary, screened last week, Walter said: ‘This total nonsense was, of course, for a purpose: to let Berezovsky stay in England.’
Maxim added that Alexander had boasted to him how he extracted a confession from a supposed killer whose mission was to murder Berezovsky when he attended an extradition court hearing in Central London.
Maxim claimed that his brother said the ‘assassin’ told him: ‘I was sent by the KGB, by the FSB [Russian Secret Service]. I’ve got to go and spike him with the pen.’
The programme featured a series of purported secret conversations in which various associates discussed the alleged plot.
There is no suggestion that Berezovsky had any involvement or was aware at any stage of the alleged plots.
Berezovsky’s 2003 hearing was moved from Bow Street magistrates’ court in Central London to the high-security court attached to Belmarsh jail in south London.
Berezovsky was later granted political asylum by the then Home Secretary David Blunkett.
Scotland Yard investigated the poison pen plot, but failed to find evidence of any crime.
Litvinenko, 44, died in November 2006, 22 days after a visit to a Central London hotel where he drank tea laced with poison.
Photographs of him days before he died showed he had suffered huge weight loss and gone bald.
A police investigation resulted in a failed request to Russia for the extradition of a prime suspect, ex-KGB man Andrei Lugovoy. This resulted in a cooling of Anglo-Russian relations.
After Litvinenko’s death, his widow Marina pursued a vigorous campaign on behalf of her husband, blaming Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for his murder.
Litvinenko is buried at Highgate Cemetery in north London.
A spokesman for Berezovsky said he could not be contacted.