28 January 2007
Russian spy's cuppa spiked at posh hotel
By Justin Penrose Crime Correspondent
A POT full of radioactive tea was used to poison former Russian spy
Alexander Litvinenko, police revealed yesterday.
The "hot" teapot was found at London's Millennium Hotel with skyhigh
readings of Polonium-210 - the deadly radioactive material
used to murder the former KGB man.
And despite a huge police investigation, the teapot wasn't found so
it was STILL IN USE at the posh hotel in Mayfair until December 10
- six weeks after the poisoning. Even then it had "off the chart"
Health officials are bracing themselves for hundreds of calls from
guests who may have been served tea at the Millennium, though
last night the Health Protection Agency tried to downplay the
blunder, saying there was no risk to public health.
A branch of the Japanese restaurant chain Itsu, originally thought to
be the scene of the poisoning, has now been ruled out. Detectives
are now convinced Mr Litvinenko was poisoned after his tea was
laced with Polonium- 210 when he met fellow former KGB men
Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitri Kovtun at the hotel on November 1. He
died 22 days later.
It has also emerged that Mr Lugovoi has been named as the prime
suspect for the poisoning by anti-terror police in a file passed
Crown Prosecution Service - a claim he strenuously denied
yesterday. Mr Lugovoi, now back in Russia, said: "This is all lies,
provocation and government propaganda by the United Kingdom.
They are trying to make up for their poor hand.
"I have not received any official statements. However, if it
am ready to protect my reputation in any court. There's an
investigation going on in Russia about an attempt to kill me and
Dmitri Kovtun and I'm co-operating with Russian police about this."
Mr Lugovoi, 41, once a KGB bodyguard, appeared to leave a trail of
Polonium-210 at offices and hotels around London. Traces were
also found on board an aircraft that he travelled on. Despite the
evidence against him, he is likely to escape prosecution because
the Russians will not extradite him. Natalia Fyodorova of the
Russian Prosecutor General's office, said: "A Russian citizen cannot
be extradited to another country under the Russian constitution."
British detectives went to Moscow to interview Mr Lugovoi and Mr
Kovtun in December, but were only allowed to sit in on questioning
by Russian officials.
Officers say Mr Lugovoi has not fully co-operated and want to quiz
him again. But Scotland Yard has been told this will only be allowed
if a Russian team visit London to interview more than 100 people.
Top of their witness list is exiled Russian oligarch Boris
a good friend of Mr Litvinenko.
ANYONE concerned they may have come into contact with Polonium-210
should call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.