Litvinenko’s widow plans legal challenge to get Boris Johnson to publish Russia report

Litvinenko’s widow plans legal challenge to get Boris Johnson to publish Russia report

The widow of murdered Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko is planning to challenge Boris Johnson’s decision to delay a report on Russian interference in UK politics.

Marina Litvinenko, whose husband was poisoned with a radioactive isotope in 2006, said there was a “profound public interest” in publishing the document before the general election on 12 December.

She is now considering taking legal action if the prime minister does not respond to a letter calling for the immediate disclosure of the report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

“A response is now expected by 4pm on 19 November 2019,” her lawyer Elena Tsirlina said in a statement.

A crowdfunding appeal by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has already raised more than £35,000 towards the costs of a judicial review.

“It is paramount the British public has access to information about potential Russian interference in our politics before we go to the polls,” the TBIJ said on its CrowdJustice page.

“If the report is not released before the election, the public will not be able to cast their vote in full knowledge of who may have influenced it.”

Mr Johnson has claimed there was no evidence of Russian influence and denied there was anything unusual in the delay before publication of the ISC report.

However Dominic Grieve, the chair of the ISC, has accused the prime minister of “sitting on” it until after the election.

The committee of senior MPs and peers completed its inquiry in March and is understood to have received the green light for publication from security agencies.

It heard evidence behind closed doors from the agencies, as well as from witnesses including Bill Browder, a critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and ex-spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the dossier containing allegations of links between Russia and Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Last year, after the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was poisoned with a novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, Ms Litvinenko called on the Conservative Party to pay back donations from Russian oligarchs.

She accused then-prime minister Theresa May of breaking a promise to prevent a repeat of her husband’s murder, adding: “You need to be very careful who you are friends with.”

A public inquiry in 2016 concluded that two Russians, including a former KBG bodyguard, carried out the murder of Mr Litvinenko in an operation probably ordered by the Russian president. Moscow has denied the allegations.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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