UK & World News
Litvinenko Killing: 'UK Tries To Block Truth'
Lawyers for the family of murdered former spy Alexander Litvinenko have accused the British Government of trying to block the truth over the killing in order to protect trade with Russia.
Ben Emmerson QC, representing Mr Litvinenko's widow Marina, warned the coroner he should not allow the inquest into the death to be "bogged down" by the "Government's attempt to keep a lid on the truth".
Mr Litvinenko, a former KGB spy who it is claimed was also working for MI6, died in 2006 after being poisoned with a radioactive substance in London.
The UK authorities believe the Russian state was behind the killing, but no one has so far been brought to justice.
The British Government is applying for a Public Interest Immunity certificate, preventing key details from being heard at the forthcoming inquest.
Mr Litvinenko's family believe the UK Government is trying to stop embarrassing revelations about the spy's links to MI6 from being aired in public.
Mr Emmerson also cited a recent trade visit Prime Minister David Cameron had made to Moscow - a trip which the QC said had secured £215m worth of business but no movement on the Litvinenko case.
Mr Emmerson said he believed the "UK and Russian Governments were trying to manipulate the inquest".
He told the coroner the case has "all the hallmarks of a situation which is shaping up to be a stain on British justice".
He said there should be no suggestion London and Moscow were conspiring together to close the inquest down.
Mr Emmerson also revealed the British Government had repeatedly refused to fund Mrs Litvinenko's legal costs for the inquest.
Coroner Sir Robert Owen intervened to say he believed it was of the utmost importance that Mrs Litvinenko be properly represented at the inquest.